Here are the best modern coming-of-age classics, from 'Bottoms' to Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women'

  • "Bottoms," starring Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott, is a hilarious new take on high school drama.

  • "Bottoms" joins the ranks of other recent coming-of-age films that have become instant classics.

  • Here are the 11 best recent coming-of-age films, all released within the past 20 years.

While most people may associate coming-of-age movies with John Hughes' classics like "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink," or '90s blockbusters like "Clueless," "She's All That," or "10 Things I Hate About You," there have been plenty of films released in the past 20 years that are destined to become classics in the genre as well.

Here are 11 films that we think deserve the title of modern coming-of-age classic.


"Bottoms" (2023)

Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott in "Bottoms."
Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott in "Bottoms."MGM Studios/Orion Pictures

Starring Ayo Edebiri (of "The Bear" fame) and Rachel Sennott, the hilariously raunchy teen comedy follows two queer outcasts who hatch a scheme to meet hot girls by starting a fight club at their high school.

Edebiri and Sennott are a joy to watch together. And with its punchy script, hilarious gags, and talented cast (Marshawn Lynch plays an amazingly out-of-touch teacher), "Bottoms" is destined to become a new coming-of-age classic.

"Booksmart" (2019)

Booksmart United Artists
Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in "Booksmart."United Artists

Olivia Wilde's directorial debut follows two precocious high schoolers determined to have some fun, no matter the cost, before they head off to college.

Much like "Bottoms," the magic of "Booksmart" comes in part from the chemistry between its two leads, Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. Anyone who was an overachiever in high school will definitely feel seen by this film, which blends slapstick comedy with an emotional message about friendship.

"Little Women" (2019)

Jo and Laurie proposal Little Women 2019 Greta Gerwig Sony
Jo and Laurie (played by Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet) in "Little Women."Sony

Don't come for me, but Greta Gerwig's adaptation of "Little Women" might just be my favorite.

By drawing on author Louisa May Alcott's life, in addition to the novel Alcott wrote, Gerwig paints a nuanced portrait of four sisters coming of age in the 1860s that still manages to feel urgently relevant. Plus, watching Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet together is a genuine treat.

"Eighth Grade" (2018)

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Elsie Fisher in "Eighth Grade."A24

In "Eighth Grade," a quiet teen tries to find her confidence while navigating a changing relationship with her father and a newfound curiosity about sex.

Few films have captured the anxiety that comes with growing up around social media like Bo Burnham's "Eighth Grade." Featuring a standout performance by lead Elsie Fisher, the film is a poignant look at young adulthood in the age of Instagram.

"Lady Bird" (2017)

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Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein in "Lady Bird."A24

Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird" — which follows a brash, confident teenager in her last year of Catholic school in the '90s — has given us many amazing moments: Beanie Feldstein shouting "It's the titular role," Timothée Chalamet as a '90s teenage dirtbag, Feldstein and star Saoirse Ronan crying in the car to Dave Matthews Band's "Crash into You." But perhaps the film's most special quality is the way it captures the tension inherent in the teenage years, when you're trying desperately to make a name for yourself without knowing quite yet who you are.

"Moonlight" (2016)

"Moonlight" won best picture at the 2016 Oscars.A24

"Moonlight" won best picture at the Oscars in 2017 over "La La Land," which was mistakenly announced at first, and is an arresting exploration of Black masculinity and vulnerability. With heartbreaking performances by Trevante Rhodes and André Holland, Barry Jenkins' film is a singularly moving coming-of-age film.

"Mistress America" (2015)

Lola Kirke and Greta Gerwig in "Mistress America."
Lola Kirke and Greta Gerwig in "Mistress America."Fox Searchlight Pictures

Lola Kirke plays Tracy, a college freshman who's just moved to New York, in this screwball comedy directed by Noah Baumbach. As always, it's a joy to watch Gerwig on screen (she plays Tracy's effortlessly cool and slightly unhinged stepsister Brooke), and anyone who's ever moved to a big city in search of themselves will likely relate to Tracy.

"Perks of Being a Wallflower" (2012)

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Emma Watson and Logan Lerman in "Perks of Being a Wallflower."Summit Entertainment

Based on the best-selling novel, "Perks of Being a Wallflower" follows a lonely high schooler, Charlie (Logan Lerman) as he struggles to find his way following the death of his best friend. The film is a faithful adaptation of the book, and its exploration of trauma, romantic relationships, and identity made it an instant classic for those growing up in the early 2010s.

"Moonrise Kingdom" (2012)

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Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in "Moonrise Kingdom."Themendienst Kino AP Images

"Moonrise Kingdom" follows two troubled, lovesick teens as they escape their overbearing family and difficult scout troupe, respectively, and embark on an adventure.

The tender romance between Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman) makes "Moonrise Kingdom" one of Wes Anderson's most emotional films. Like the director's other works, "Moonrise Kingdom" also features painstakingly constructed sets, gorgeous costumes, deadpan humor, and a star-studded supporting cast.

"Easy A" (2010)

Emma Stone in "Easy A."
Emma Stone in "Easy A."Screen Gems

In "Easy A," Olive (Emma Stone) unwittingly creates a reputation for herself as a sexually-promiscuous teen. But instead of fighting it, she begins to lean into her new bad-girl persona — at least for a little while.

While Olive's efforts to revamp her reputation are the focus of the film, the real standout moments come from scenes involving Olive's parents, played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. The comedy as a whole is hilarious and heartwarming, but Tucci and Clarkson really take the cake with their performances.

"Mean Girls" (2004)

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Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert, and Rachel McAdams in "Mean Girls."Paramount Pictures

"Mean Girls" follows new girl at school Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) as she falls into a clique of ultra-popular girls and slowly finds herself becoming one of them.

The film redefined the teen movie genre, gave us endlessly-quotable lines of dialogue, and furthered the star power of Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, and Rachel McAdams. What more needs to be said about the coming-of-age movie to end all coming-of-age movies?

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