Tag Archives: high school

Movies to watch before you graduate high school

By Angelica Moreno

I recently came to the realization that once I graduate high school, I will not relate to movies that surround themselves around a high school plot. Yes, you can watch Superbad in your late 20s or whatever but you won’t be able to say, “Oh yeah; I’m in high school just like them.” Only now can you watch these movies before it’s too late to semi relate to them. (I also recommended when to watch them because every movie has a place and time.)

Girl-Centered Movies

The Edge of Seventeen, dir. Kelly Fremon (Hulu premium subscription): Protagonist Nadine’s brother decides to date her best friend; and although that’s a common trope in movies, they make good use of it. It drives the plot of Nadine (Haliee Steinfeld) having no friends or social life because of that relationship. 

When to watch: the year you’re seventeen years of age, or when you “feel” like you have no friends.


Easy A, dir. Will Gluck: Olive, played by Emma Stone, is a nobody, ghost, does not exist to her peers around her at school and an acquaintance begs her to fix his reputation by pretending to sleep with him. People finally notice her and now like the hypothetical bad reputation she’s created for herself. 

When to watch: Junior to senior year, or before you want to do something to make yourself “popular.”


Ladybird, dir. Greta Gerwig (Netflix): Ladybird, played by Saoirse Ronan, is a teen girl whose life you get to experience with her. She doesn’t have the biggest presence in school or feels like she lives in the right house but she is just a teenager living her life. She has big dreams for her future and nothing too big happens, but everything that does happen is just enough. Her love-hate relationship with her mom was finally something that felt real in any movie I’ve seen and her first boyfriend is my favorite character, played by Lucas Hedges (an under-appreciated actor!)

When to watch: Senior year (I’m thinking winter break).


The To-Do List, dir. Maggie Carey (Hulu premium subscription, Amazon Prime: premium subscription, Showtime): Brandy Clark, played by Aubrey Plaza, is a straight-A student who didn’t do anything promiscuous all of her high school career but when she’s graduated, the tables have turned. She decides to “to-do” everything she missed out on, the summer before going to college.

When to watch: The weekend after graduation. 


Boy-Centered Movies

The New Guy, dir. Ed Decter (Hulu premium subscription, Amazon Prime: premium subscription, Starz): Self explanatory. It’s so bad it’s good. Okay that’s harsh but some moments feel so cringe-worthy that they are enough to make you laugh from second-hand embarrassment. It felt like an off brand Disney movie.

When to watch: Any time in high school.


Charlie Bartlett, dir. Jon Poll (Pluto TV, Tubi, Amazon Prime): Charlie, played by the late Anton Yelchin, is a privileged private school white boy who desperately wants to be liked. He gets kicked out of every private school he goes to for doing something “cool” to make people like him, like making fake I.D’s for everyone and now he’s forced to go to public school for the first time. He becomes the public school’s psychiatrist and is able to help the kids while also building bonds with everyone.

When to watch: Any time in high school.


17 Again, dir. Burr Steers (Netflix): You’re watching the wrong Zac Efron movie if you’re not watching this one. Mike O’Donnell (Efron) wishes he were “17 again” and his wish comes true while everyone in his life stays the same age. Mike needs to realize why he chose to stay with his pregnant girlfriend at 17 rather than become a pro basketball player because the burden and regret of not choosing his dreams derive from thinking he chose the wrong life.

When to watch: Summer before senior year.


Rushmore (1998), dir. Wes Anderson: Max Fisher, played by Jason Schwartzman, is a pretentious, passionate, creative boy who has the privilege of a private school’s fine arts department budget. He fails every common, core subject class, but excels at after school extracurricular activities–most of which he started himself. It’s a story-like movie that is quirky and enjoyable.

When to watch: On an uneventful Wednesday night.


Donnie Darko, dir. Richard Kelly (Tubi, Pluto TV, Amazon Prime): Young Jake Gylennhal struck the landing with this one and every movie after; he always makes a movie better. You don’t know whether Donnie is crazy, eccentric, or advantaged to the average person. A demonic rabbit tells him the world is going to end in 28 days and I think Donnie believes it. It felt like it was in the same universe as American Beauty.

When to watch: Any time in high school.


The Dynamic Duo

Back to the Future (1985) dir. Robert Zemeckis (Amazon Prime and Netflix): A must see ‘80’s classic. You need to understand every Marty McFly and Doc Brown reference future media might bring you. It’s actually not self-explanatory because most of the movie is Marty, played by Michael J. Fox, going to the past, which then changes his dad’s future for the better.

When to watch: Any Sunday morning of high school.

Ghost World, dir. Terry Zwigoff (Hulu premium subscription, Amazon Prime: premium subscription, Starz): Your only friend is your best friend and all you do is bully people and make fun of stuff. Enid, played by Thora Birch, and Rebecca, played by Scarlett Johansson, just graduated high school and both are on job hunts to fund the apartment they want to get together. Rebecca sticks to the plan but Enid fans out into a different venture, having to take a summer class and not fully graduating, and creating a new friendship out of her bullying habits.

When to watch: Summer after graduation or any Thursday night.


The Infamous Trio 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, dir. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon: Greg, played by Thomas Mann, has no “friends” except his buddy that he hangs out with every day. Greg refers to him as a co-worker because in their free time they like to make short films about the movies they’ve watched. Greg’s mom forces him to hang out with the girl who has cancer; and even though they initially dislike each other, after forcefully hanging out for weeks on end they become friends… there’s no romance in this one (they actually just stay friends the whole time!). As the title suggests, she does die in the end (but that’s not the point so still watch it).

When to watch: Any Monday through Wednesday afternoon when you have free time.


Dope, dir. Rick Famuyiwa: Malcolm, played by Shameik Moore, is a straight-A student with perfect SAT scores and he feels like he’s ruined his life in one night. His backpack is filled with illegal substances as blackmail for dancing with someone’s girlfriend; and now, this boyfriend character dude has a reason to seek out Malcolm and beat him up.

When to watch: Any Monday after school when you have free time.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) dir. John Hughes: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Everyone loves him but his principal hates him. Ferris, played by Matthew Broderick, decides to skip school one day. Everyone in town learns he’s “sick” and campaigns for Ferris to get better soon but he’s actually out and about living his ditch day to the fullest. From a baseball game to a parade float performance, it’s just enough entertainment to take in. Cameron’s character, played by Alan Ruck, is my favorite in the movie.

When to watch: Any Saturday morning.


Superbad, dir. Greg Mottola (Netflix): “I am McLovin”

Hopefully you’ve seen it already, but if not, it’s a 2000’s must-see classic. Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and the other dude (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) are simply trying to get beer to Julie’s party (played by Emma Stone). The world is against them but it might be for good reason because it’s an awesome movie by the end.

When to watch: Any Friday night.


Group Movies 

The Virgin Suicides (1999) dir. Sofia Coppola (Pluto TV, Amazon Prime: premium subscription): The Lisbon girls live in a strict household where their rebellious nature only causes more harm than good. The boys on their block never get to be close to them but they daydream of being with the Lisbon girls, as friends, as boyfriends, as someone they would talk to. The title itself is revealing. Also, what a great soundtrack.

When to watch: On an uneventful Saturday night.


Detroit Rock City (1999), dir. Adam Rifkin (Tubi): A friend-group of four have undying love for the band Kiss. They get tickets to the upcoming Kiss concert but one of their moms finds the tickets and burns them because she thinks Kiss is against Christian values. The group still goes to the concert because nothing stands against them and their idols, even without proof of entry.

When to watch: Any Sunday night. 


Breaking Away (1979), dir. Peter Yates: Dave thinks he’s Italian and wants to be in competitive bicycle racing, dreaming of one day being in the “Tour de France.” In reality, he’s American and lives in Bloomington, Indiana. He trains every day and with the support of his friend group, his dream doesn’t die.

When to watch: On an uneventful Sunday.


TV Shows 

Freaks and Geeks, 1999 (Hulu premium subscription): Many big names who got their first big part are featured here like James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segal, and Busy Phillips. There’s a lot of small cameos from young actors who also got big. A very high school show (teens being teens doing teen things). There’s a relatable aspect you’ll attach to no matter who you are.

When to watch: Any time in high school.


Sex Education (Netflix): Finally characters who aren’t bland and have life to them as a whole person in a show about teenagers. Who knew what good writing could do for a show? A show for everyone; you can’t hate it. I’m serious–you can’t hate it.

When to watch: Junior year.


The End of the F***ing World (Netflix): James, played by Alex Lawther, thinks he’s a psychopath from not feeling emotions his whole life, and Alyssa, played by Jessica Barden, wants to live a different life (one where she doesn’t live with her weird stepdad). They make a pact to run away together to find Alyssa’s dad. Someone kills someone and the story unravels itself on two teenagers not knowing what to do but Alyssa’s confidence leads the way.

When to watch: Any time in high school.