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T3: Teen Movies

John suggested I do it, so here’s a list of what I would say are the best movies that capture the lives of teenagers better than any other. I definitely had a hard time choosing the order of the films to on this list seeing as though a lot of these films hold a special place in my heart, I pretty much would’ve been ok with any of the top five being number one but whatever here it goes…..

10. Juno (2007)
One of my favorite films of last year, Juno somehow makes the controversial subject of teen pregnancy into a very warmhearted but also very sharply funny film. It’s more of a film about a teenager being thrown into a very adult situation than about high school, but it still gives a very enjoyable and honest look at growing up in a small town in this day and age.

9. Say Anything (1989)
Cameron Crowe shows us once again his natural gift for capturing the way young people talk and act with his directorial debut. I found the father-daughter relationship to be fairly unique, as well as the love story between straight-A student Diane (Ione Skye) and underachiever Lloyd (John Cusack). Plus you gotta love the fact that it takes place in Seattle.

8. The Last Picture Show (1971)

A low-key, but notheless compelling drama from Peter Bogdonavich that gives a very authentic feeling look at what it was like to grow up in 1950’s Texas. Like many of the films on this list, The Last Picture show features some very strong performances from several future stars as well as a number of veteran actors, two of which (Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman) won oscars for their supporting performances.

7. Rushmore (1998)
A charming little story about Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a private school student with endless ambitions. This unorthadox representation of teenage life might be Wes Anderson’s crowning achievement, and I believe is the first movie to make it on to more than one T3.
6. Superbad (2007)
I don’t know why I said it would barely make the list, it’s easily the funniest movie on this list, and probably the best high school movie of the decade so far. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera are a team made in comedy heaven, and their hilarious dialogue rings very true to the way teenage boys talk and gives us plenty hilarious lines worth quoting over and over again.

5. Dazed and Confused (1993)
An early triumph for director Richard Linklater, has a very groovy laid back feel to it with a rockin’ soundtrack and some likeable performances from a number of future stars. More than any other high school movie, Dazed and Confused focuses on the sheer boredom of being a teenager rather than the pressures of it.

4. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Probably the first motion picture made about the youth for the youth to strike such a chord with American audiences. James Dean’s portrayal of delinquent Jim Stark is simply iconic on every level, and his death only further cemented him as the face of the rebellious side of 1950’s teenage America.

3. The Breakfast Club (1985)
Easily the most memorable and compelling of John Hughes’ long run as the king of high school comedies in the 1980’s. By having teenagers serve detention on a Saturday, it very simply but effectively shows the way people from different cliques can clash, and also learn to get along forced to be together. Although none of the movie takes place during a day of high school, and pretty much completely takes place in a school library, it captures the darker side of teenage life like no other film had done before or has done since.
2. American Graffiti (1973)
Before George Lucas decided to basically dedicate his life to one franchise, he turned out this fantastic ode to diners, rock n’ roll, and cruisin’ all night long. American Graffiti jump started the careers of a number of young actors as well as launched the fifties nostalgia boom of the 1970’s that would inspire a number of hit TV shows and films. American Graffiti perfectly captures the moment in one’s life between teenage life and adulthood just at the time when the nation was about to go through some major changes itself.
1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
I don’t know if I’d necessarily say this is the absolute best or even my favorite movie on the list, but I don’t think any other film captures so effortlessly every aspect of being a teenager. Fast Times tackles everything from underage sex, clueless teachers, and school sports to abortion and dead end jobs. Fast Times is filled with a number of memorable scenes and characters including the most beloved of all teen movie stoners, Jeff Spicoli. Yet it also has the distinct feeling of being an authentic account of growing up in 1980’s Southern California.
Honorable Mentions: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, American Pie, Election, Napoleon Dynamite

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