Good High School Movies
This list of goo high school movies features films ranging from 1950’s social commentaries to modern star-studded romantic comedies and include early screen appearances by actors like Tom Cruise, Christian Slater, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Sydney Poitier. Featuring powerful stories, memorable dialogue and charming performances, these films capture the angst and obstacles of the high school years and have gone on to become indelible classics.
“Blackboard Jungle” A good high school movie from the 1950’s, this harsh social commentary about a white teacher in an inner city school features an early performance from acclaimed actor Sydney Poitier as class rebel Gregory Miller. The film also features a fine performance from Anne Francis and “M*A*S*H” star Jamie Farr in his screen debut.
“10 Things I Hate About You” The breakout film for actors Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, this romantic comedy about teenagers vying for love in a Seattle high school was loosely based on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Featuring a great ensemble cast including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Krumholtz, the film also stars comedian Larry Miller as cynical father, Walter Stratford.
“Better Off Dead” A good high school movie from the 1980’s, this farce is one of John Cusack’s funniest early films and features a great comedic performance by character actor Curtis Armstrong. Odd performances by veteran actors Kim Darby and David Ogden Stiers as Cusack’s bewildered parents highlight this absurd 1985 comedy.
“Risky Business” Arguably Tom Cruise’s most memorable early film, this fast-paced comedy about a high school student whose life becomes complicated by a beautiful escort named Lana launched Cruise to superstardom. The film features excellent dialogue by writer-directo Paul Brickman and a great, albeit uncharacteristic performance by Joe Pantoliano as Lana’s ruthless pimp, Guido.
“Heathers” A smart black comedy from director Michael Lehmann, “Heathers” has inspired a musical as well as a planned television series and stars Christian Slater and Winona Ryder as two outcasts who must navigate their way through a high school ruled by a trend-setting clique of girls named Heather.
“The Outsiders” A modern day classic about two warring high school cliques in the 1960’s, “The Outsiders” was based on the 1967 novel of the same name by then eighteen-year-old writer S.E. Hinton. Showcasing early performances from an ensemble cast that includes Patrick Swyaze, Emilio Esteves, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane and Matt Dillon, the film was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.
“Flirting” A good high school movie to come out of Australia, this film about a high school boy growing up in 1965 holds the distinction of being Thandie Newton’s debut film as well as being a young Nicole Kidman’s last Australian film before her move to Hollywood. Excellent performances by Noah Taylor and a very young Naomi Watts highlight this 1991 Australian gem.
“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” Another good high school movie from the 1980’s, this classic about the love lives of a group of students in a California high school was written by award-winning writer-director Cameron Crowe. The second screen appearance of Sean Penn, this 1982 film also featured early appearances by big name actors like Nicholas Cage, Eric Stoltz, Forest Whitaker and Anthony Edwards.
“Angus” A good high school movie from the early 1990’s, this story about an overweight outcast who falls for the popular girl of his high school was the screen debut for “Dawson’s Creek” star James Van Der Beek. An incredible soundtrack of early 90’s rock as well as excellent performances by Kathy Bates and George C. Scott highlight this 1995 coming-of-age comedy.
“Brick” A hardboiled detective story set in a modern day high school, “Brick” delivers a career-defining performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan Frye, a loner who attempts to solve the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Featuring a femme fatale, a cape wearing drug lord and fast-talking characters reminiscent of a Dashiell Hammett novel, “Brick” is highlighted by a brilliant cast including Richard Roundtree and Lukas Haas.