A disclaimer 

It has to be said that when this topic originally came up at one of our editorial staff meetings, the movie The Breakfast Club was thrown around a lot, and we’ve considered it common knowledge – please, see this as my way of explaining why it didn’t get more space in the guide. But as a courtesy to anyone still not familiar with this college movie classic, I’d strongly recommend you to give it a watch. Not only has it set the standard for coming-of-age movies, it also has a lot to teach us even today despite being shot in 1985. 

Now, this is by no means an extensive or a completely objective list – but where on Earth could such a thing be found, right? As I was brainstorming it, I noticed that the movies coming to my mind could vaguely fit into two categories: the almost strictly study-inspirational ones and the ones that are set in high school or college but prefer to use it as a background for their story. And that is how we will be tackling the list today. 

What, like it’s hard? 

Legally Blonde (2001)

That’s right, we’ll start from your good old Legally Blonde, as there can be no way to go wrong here. It’s a film with a strong female lead who gets into Harvard Law School because she just wants to get her boyfriend back – can you imagine doing that? This fact alone is inspiration enough, but Elle Woods (portrayed by the wonderful Reese Witherspoon) shines her brilliant smile on everyone and everything around her making it almost impossible not to join in. Every cloud has a silver lining and every moody autumnal day has an Elle Woods to bring an end to it. 

Candy Jar (2018)

Next on the list is one of the better recent Netflix releases, Candy Jar, that focuses on the lives of two debaters, Lona and Bennet. We’ll have to admit, this one is more of a teenage movie, set in high school and attenuating the pressure of getting into a good college more than anything else. Yet by not following certain cliches and presenting a weirdly relatable story, it brings you to contemplating the reasons behind your studies – which is always a good thing to keep in mind. 

The Art of Getting By (2011)

Finally, in this category we have The Art of Getting By, starring none other than Freddie Highmore along with Emma Roberts. It opens by pushing the question of “why bother” to the extreme – you live alone, you die alone, life’s unfair and no one actually loves anyone. Where could it possibly go from here? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out but I’ll tell you one thing – at the darkest times, it has always led me to believe nothing is impossible if you are one with yourself. 

Feeling infinite 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Mentioning a modern classic once again, I’ll open this part of the list with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, as much a coming-of-age story as a how-to on getting the best out of each moment. It is about being yourself even if you don’t know yet what it means exactly; about the pains of trying to fit in; about the dreams that you have to keep dreaming; about the life that goes on, bringing you moments to fill up an infinity with.  

Easy A (2010)

On a much lighter note, here is a story homaging the legendary Breakfast Club along with other John Hughes’ films. Easy A is a wonderfully shot teen comedy starring Emma Stone that revolves around the calamities caused by rumors and lies – and how those can or cannot be used to your advantage. Bursts of laughter, some new sassy retorts and comments in your vocabulary and a worrying appreciation for Pocketful of Sunshine is guaranteed. 

Lady Bird (2017)

As an amateur Greta Gerwig fan, I cannot help but end this list on Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut. Filled with complex characters observed at their most vulnerable, this is an ode to Sacramento, a coming-of-age story, a tale of a complicated mother-daughter relationship, a window into the seemingly different and yet oh so relatable world. It will bring you to tears, it will make you laugh, and it will most certainly lead you to watch everything else created by Greta, the hope for all cinephiles that she is. 

And if you want to get more movie inspiration, you can always head over here to check out our other articles on the topic.