Greatest High School Movies
The greates high school movies run the gamut of teenage emotion and encompass the pressures as well as the joys faced by teens during the four years that define who they will become. These movies have helped generations of teens define themselves while providing comfort and support in the relatable characters depicted in the works of legendary filmmakers like Cameron Crowe and John Hughes, whose films deservedly make up the bulk of this list.
“Some Kind of Wonderful” A classic from writer-director John Hughes, this film is one of his lesser known high school charmers and features exceptional early performances from a talented cast including Eric Stoltz, Lea Thompson, and Mary Stewart Masterson as well as an excellent early performance by character actor Elias Koteas as tough outsider, Duncan.
“Saved!” One of the greatest high school movies, “Saved!” is a biting satire featuring an incredible performance by Jenna Malone as a pregnant teenager trying to get by in a closed-minded Christian high school. The highlights of the film are undoubtedly Macaulay Culkin’s portrayal of wheelchair-bound Roland and Eva Amurri as his volatile rebel girlfriend, Cassandra .
“The Breakfast Club” One of writer-director John Hughes’ best films, this movie about a group of students who bond over Saturday detention is quite possibly the greatest high school movie ever made and stars a talented group of young actors including Molly Ringwald, Emilio Esteves, and an exceptional Judd Nelson as unkempt rebel, John Bender.
“Sixteen Candles” Another seminal favorite of John Hughes fans, “Sixteen Candles” is one of his best and possibly one of the greatest high school movies about what it means to be ignored. Molly Ringwald is at her best in this film, the first of her collaborations with Hughes.
“Rushmore” Indie filmmaker Wes Anderson’s immortal ode to prep schools won a number of Independent Spirit Awards when it debuted in 1999. The film established Anderson’s formidable film career and launched the career of actor Jason Schwartzman. Comedy veteran Bill Murray’s turn as Herman Blume is a must see.
“Back to the Future” One of the greatest high school movies of all time, this film about time travel and the Butterfly Effect gone awry has gone on to become a cult classic. The film led to two sequels and proved a major hit for director Robert Zemeckis and actor Michael J. Fox.
“Pretty in Pink” Arguably one of the greatest high school movies every produced by legendary filmmaker John Hughes, “Pretty in Pink” showcased actors Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer at their finest as two outcasts attempting to navigate their ways through a Midwestern high school where image is everything. Of note are exceptional performances by Andrew McCarthy and a young James Spader as the self-absorbed snob, Steff.
“Say Anything…” One of writer-director Cameron Crowe’s best films, this movie about a loner who falls in love with a girl from the other side of the tracks was an early film for actor John Cusack that helped shape his career. A can’t miss performance by actress Lili Taylor highlights this sentimental story.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” The film that launched the career of actor Matthew Broderick, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is an unmistakable classic from writer-director John Hughes and chronicles the titular character and his exploits around the city of Chicago with his girlfriend and hapless best friend Cameron, played to perfection by the talented Alan Ruck.
“Rebel Without a Cause” No list of great high school films would be complete without this 1955 classic about a rebellious loner who witnesses tragedy and love when he moved to a new town. The quintessential James Dean film, “Rebel Without a Cause” gave a voice to teenagers in the 1950’s and proved to be Dean’s best and most memorable film.