Written and directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 90s-era LA who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop.
He’s struggling with his family, including his co-dependent single mom and his abusive older brother, and at school, where his richer friends seem to overlook him. When Stevie befriends a crew of skateboarders, he learns some tough lessons about class, race, and privilege.
Below you’ll find some coming of age movies like Mid90s which teach some equally tough life lessons. All of them are worthy of adding to your bucket list.
1. Eighth Grade (2018)
Directed by YouTube star Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade follows quiet, socially anxious Kayla (Elsie Fisher) as she navigates her last couple of weeks of middle school, the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year before she begins high school.
2. Thirteen (2003)
Released in 2003, Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen is a riveting movie offering a glimpse into urban adolescence in 2003. The film follows the main character, Tracy who is a thirteen year old seventh grader trying to find herself in the midst of her parents divorce. Thirteen reflects on the themes of coming of age as well as the culture of the early 2000s.
It uses elements of realism through its dialogues and careful characterization. Thirteen humanizes teenage girls who are usually portrayed in films as either two-dimensional bimbos or crazy dream girls in favor of the male gaze.
RELATED: 35 Movies like Thirteen That Everyone Needs To Watch
3. Booksmart (2019)
Booksmart is a sweet coming of age film about two best friends in their last few days of high school. Amy and Molly rule the school inside their heads. They get excellent grades and Molly is convinced they are the only ones who got into really good universities because they spent their time studying and not doing frivolous things like going to parties.
However, on the eve of their high school graduation they realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined to never fall short of their peers, the girls set out on a mission to cram four years of fun into one night.
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Socially awkward teen Charlie is a wallflower, always watching life from the sidelines, until two charismatic students become his mentors. Free-spirited Sam and her stepbrother Patrick play a key role in assisting Charlie discover the joys of friendship, first love, music and more, while a teacher sparks Charlie’s dreams of becoming a writer. Towards the end of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie’s new pals graduate and prepare to leave for college, Charlie’s inner sadness threatens to shatter his newfound confidence.
5. Fish Tank (2009)
Fish Tank depicts the life of Mia Williams, a volatile and socially isolated 15-year-old girl who is hurtling toward a lifetime of misery. She lives on an East London council estate with her single mother, Joanne, and younger sister, Tyler. Mia has an altercation with her best friend and her relations with her verbally abusive mother and sister aren’t good.
She is expelled from school and is awaiting admission to a referrals unit and spends her days aimlessly. She starts an awkward friendship with Joanne’s cunning boyfriend, Connor, who embolden her one interest, dancing.
6. Foxfire (1996)
Foxfire is a 1996 American teen drama film directed by Annette Haywood-Carter. Based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, it examines the coming of age of four high school girls who form an unlikely bond after beating up a teacher who has sexually harassed them. They build a solid friendship but their wild ways begin to get out of control.
7. Speak (2004)
Speak is a coming-of-age teen drama film based on the award-winning 1999 novel of the same name by Laurie Halse Anderson. In the film, Melinda Sordino is forced into the worst year of her life. Her best friend, Rachel Bruin turns against her with all other of Melinda’s fellow students looking away. Everyone refused to take a single glance at Melinda only because of one stupid end-of-summer party.
8. Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird is an American drama and comedy film directed by Greta Gerwig. The main character Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom, a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father loses his job.
Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.
9. Donnie Darko (2001)
Written and directed by Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko is set in the late 80s in which a depressed teenager sleep walks and in doing so escapes an accident which would’ve killed him. And just when you think things couldn’t get any weirder, an evil rabbit visits that same teenager later in the film to let him know that the world will end in just over 28 days because that accident he narrowly escaped should’ve killed him. Make sense? No? Watch the movie.
10. Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Set in the changing world of the late 1960s, Girl, Interrupted is the searing true story of Susanna Kaysen, a young woman who finds herself at a renowned mental institution for troubled young women, where she must choose between the world of people who belong on the inside like the seductive and dangerous Lisa or the often difficult world of reality on the outside.
Girl, Interrupted is a powerful and compelling examination of mental illness which has aged extremely well and still resonates with modern audiences.
11. Kids (1995)
Kids is an American coming-of-age film that divided critics when it was released in 1995. The film follows the literal exploits of Telly and his best friend Casper, teenage skateboarders living in NYC which was critically acclaimed, though the film’s powerful and candid portrayal of teenage sexuality and drug abuse made it controversial.
12. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
The Edge of Seventeen is a poignant and hilarious look at what it’s like to be a teenager today. Growing up is hard, and life is no easier for Nadine, who is already at peak awkwardness when her best friend Krista begins dating her all-star brother Darian.
All at once, Nadine feels more alone than ever. With the help of her reluctant sounding-board, she soon discovers that what feels like the end of the world may just be the beginning of growing up.
13. White Oleander (2002)
White Oleander is a harrowing, coming-of-age story based on the best selling novel by Janet Fitch. Twelve-year-old Astrid shares an idyllic life with her mother Ingrid, a beautiful and free-spirited artist. When her mom is suddenly sent to prison for life for committing a crime of passion, Astrid is set adrift in the world.
Alone to struggle to become her own person, she goes through foster home after foster home experiencing forbidden love, religion, near-death experiences, drugs, starvation and how it feels to be loved.
14. Boyhood (2014)
Filmed over 12 years with the same cast comes this story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen. It charts the rocky terrain of childhood and is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past. Boyhood is a portrait of a divorced couple trying to raise their young son. The story follows the boy for twelve years, from first grade at age 6 through 12th grade at age 17-18, and examines his relationship with his parents as he grows.
15. The King of Staten Island (2020)
Directed by Judd Apatow, The King of Staten Island is a comedy-drama that follows the life of a 24-year-old man named Scott, who still lives with his mother and is struggling to find his purpose in life after his father’s death. Scottg dreams of becoming a tattoo artist and dealing with his emotional issues, but is constantly held back by his tendency to self-sabotage.
The King of Staten Island was famously the biggest film of comedian Pete Davidson’s at the time of writing this and featuring other big name actors and comedians such as Bill Burr, Marisa Tomei, Pauline Chalamet and Maude Apatow. Throughout the movie there are themes of grief, family, and growing up which are explored in detail.
16. Project X (2012)
Directed by Nima Nouorizadeh, Project X is a comedy film about three high school seniors who throw a birthday party for a friend, hoping to increase their social status. However, the party quickly gets out of hand as more and more people arrive, causing destruction and chaos in the neighborhood.
The film follows the trio as they try to keep the party going while trying desperately not to get caught for causing absolute teen mayhem. Which is quite ironic when the most well known song on the soundtrack is entitled “Pursuit of Happiness.”
17. Lords of Dogtown (2005)
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, Lords of Dogtown is based on the true story of the birth of skateboarding in Venice, California during the 1970s. The film focuses on the lives of a group of young skateboarders, known as the “Z-Boys,” who change the sport forever with their innovative and dangerous tricks. The film explores themes of friendship, rebellion, and the rise of a cultural phenomenon.
Lords of Dogtown was written by Stacy Peralta and famously featured Heath Ledger, John Robinson, Tony Alva, Victor Rasuk and Nikki Reed. Old school skaters have praised the film for raising awareness of their sub-culture. The soundtrack is a mish-mash of musical styles with artists like Jimi Hendrix, Rise Against, Nazareth, T. Rex and Rod Stewart appearing on it.
18. Dope (2015)
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa, Dope is a comedy-drama film that follows the story of Malcolm, a geeky and socially awkward high school student in a rough neighborhood in L.A. In a bizarre sequence of events, Malcolm and his friends are drawn into a dangerous world of drugs and violence involving a local drug dealer. If you’re looking for a film with equal parts of coming of age, friendship, and identity themes – then Dope is definitely up your alley.
19. Hot Summer Nights (2017)
Directed by Elijah Bynum, Hot Summer Nights is a 2017 coming-of-age film set in the summer of 1991 in Cape Cod. The film follows the story of Daniel, a shy and awkward teenager who begins to come out of his shell after meeting a mysterious older girl and getting involved in the local drug trade.
Themes of self-discovery, first love, and consequences are expertly explored thanks to the acting talents of Timothee Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe and Emory Cohen.
20. The Florida Project (2017)
Directed by Sean Baker, The Florida Project is a coming-of-age drama that focuses on the lives of a group of young children living in a budget motel near Disney World in Florida. The film follows the adventures of 6-year-old girl, Moonee and her friends, as they play and explore their surroundings, while their parents struggle with poverty, homelessness, and their own bulls**t.
The Florida Project explores themes like childhood, poverty, and just how sinister the American Dream can be towards those on the receiving end of it.
21. Minding the Gap (2018)
Directed by Bing Liu, Minding the Gap is a 2018 documentary film that explores the lives of three young men in Rockford, Illinois as they navigate adulthood and come to terms with their past traumas. Unlike other films on this list, this documentary follows the innate personal journeys of the director and two of his childhood friends as they confront issues of race, class, and abuse.
Minding the Gap explores themes like masculinity, identity and healing through the lens of skateboarding and other teen subcultures.
22. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Directed by Richard Linklater, Dazed and Confused is a 1993 coming-of-age film from the early 1990s which is set in a small Texas town on the last day of school in the year 1976. The movie follows a group of high school students as they engage in the kind of shenanigans you’d expect for a movie based in the 70s: sex, drugs, alcohol and rock ‘n’ roll.
Dazed and Confused is famous for its well known cast with actors like Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich and Ben Affleck making up just some of the main cast. You’d be hard pressed to find all of those four in a movie together again. Maybe if Linklater gave them a call?
23. Superbad (2007)
Directed by Greg Mottola, Superbad is a comedy film about two best friends, Seth and Evan (two absolute losers), who are about to graduate high school and desperately want to lose their virginity before heading off to college.
What follows is a hilarious ensemble of bizarre adventures as they try to secure alcohol for a party in an effort to impress a pair of girls and make the most of their final days of adolescence. There isn’t a movie on this list which captures the awkwardness of adolescence and just how hilarious it can be more than Superbad!
RELATED: The 21 Funniest Jonah Hill Quotes from Superbad
24. Moonlight (2016)
Directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight is a drama that tells the story of a young man named Chiron, who grows up in Miami in the 1980s and 1990s in difficult circumstances. The film is divided into three acts, each chronicling a different stage in Chiron’s life, and examines his struggle with his sexuality, identity, and relationships with his drug-addicted mother and the drug dealer who serves as a father figure.
With an all African-American cast, Moonlight explores themes of race, sexuality, masculinity, and growing up in poverty. It was based on the unpublished semi-autobiographical play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s life.
25. Sweet Dreams (1985)
Directed by Karel Reisz, Sweet Dreams is a biographical drama that tells the life story of country music star Patsy Cline. It follows traces Cline’s rise to fame, her tumultuous personal life, and her untimely death at the ripe young age of 30.
As expected, Sweet Dreams explores themes of passion, ambition, and the price of success in the music industry. It also features all her major hits including “Crazy” and “Walkin’ After Midnight.”
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