Top 10 Films: Coming of Age

Top 10 Coming of Age Films


Growing up is a tough thing.  No matter what age you are, you always are ignorant about something, and must learn to better yourself.   When it comes to the ideas of ‘growing up’ in films; there is a sense of deep connection, one that boils down on a personal level.  Within that feeling; you get to see the struggles a character(s) must do to eventually come out with a better idea and look and life.  This brings me to the point of this Top 10 list.

Coming-of-age films are some of the most endearing tales.  The reason they stand the test of time is the ideals that correlate within them.  As a child, teenager or even an adult, coming into your ‘own’ crosses races, nationalities, genders and age.  There is something that you can find relatable in these stories that reflect something within your life at some time.  When you feel that ‘connection’; you find that it is a story that goes beyond to become something where you feel the character(s) struggle through yourself.    A truly great coming-of-age film breaks generations and adds an everlasting feeling to the subtleness of the story and characters.  As subjected to previous statements I have said before; there might be some films not on this list because they are on other for genre reasons.  With that being said, here are the films that are my Top 10 Coming of Age films.


adventureland10. Adventureland – Tales that begin with the settings of ‘summer’ are ones that draw the utmost power of a coming-of-age film. Here, we follow a college graduate who begins working at a local amusement park. What we come to find (at the heart of the story) is a struggle of this young man to find ‘purpose’ in his life.  The greatness comes in the form of the ‘subtlety’ of these characters, and how the director grabs a whimsical feel in that subtleness.   Grounding it within the summer, a college graduate and in an amusement park, it creates a place familiar and riveting.  That familiar sense is what creates that timeless sensation and the reason why this film cracks my top 10.



garden state9. Garden State – a Tale of lost, turns into one of life; this is a film that pulls at your strings on an emotional level within character growth. Through Zach Braff (Who wrote and directed the film as well) there is a gradual sense of growth within his character. The lost of his mother creates a vacuum, where he must realize truths and possibly fill that hollowness with someone that can show the true meaning of life.  This is a dark tale overall, but one that creates proof of light in the most dire of situations.  The irony adds layers in the characters, creating a film that is small in stature, but big in meaning.



life8. Life of Pi – A different kind of coming-of-age film; it’s one that focuses on the journey intertwining with faith. Stranding out a sea, we follow the trials and tribulations of a boy named ‘Pi’. We watch as he fights through all the delusions and perils to find the strength to continue living, all while dealing with a Bengal Tiger.  The imagery breaks the ideas of meaning needing to be dialogue driven.  With a film focused on the relationship of a tiger and boy; we see something deeper within their visual interactions with themselves and certain situations.  Their convictions are tested, as their struggles to believe in life and still have faith in a high power are constantly pushed to the limits.  The story is mesmerizing because of the simplicity of the acts.   As you can find in my review, you will see why the raw vigor gives a complexion that anyone who has been tested with their faith can believe in.  That bleeding of grandeur on a character scale creates a tale that endears forever on.


mud7. Mud – Deemed an ‘American Classic Tale’; this is a film that shows the struggles of one boy trying to find his place in this world, while also paralleling a man’s journey on the run from a murder he committed in the act of love. Within a twisting of fates, the boy learns the possibilities of life through this criminal, as well as him finding humanity’s worth within the boy. That tale might be familiar, but because of the setting (Louisiana) and the raw storytelling, it’s captivating on so many levels.  As mentioned in my review, the characters are masking their flaws, creating true depth within their conversations, interactions and scenes.  The riveting pulse pulls you in, and never let’s goes.  You will find reason to believe in love and life again within this film.



dazed and confused6. Dazed and Confused – On the surface, this looks like another ‘run of the mill’ high school film. What actually happened was a deeper character driven tale that has become a classic among coming-of-age stories. Starting from a generic premise (A look at high school students of their last day of school in 1976); the film trails into the complexion of the colorful cast looking for something more within their current and future lives.  You have every kind of archetype used in any kind of high school story; but here we see how the director masks the archetype with a deeper ‘purpose’ for them within the film.    Richard Linklater (director) captures the essence of growing up within high school; breaking the clichés and adding a ‘mirror’ of innocence, fragility and struggle that anyone can relate to.  What we see is a mixture of teenagers trying to have fun while also trying to find the difference from what’s right against what truly feels right.  That sensation creates a story that grows on you, creating a ‘fine wine’ like; with greater appeal with multiple viewings.


moonrise5. Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson is a god among indie films. The one thing to make note about his tales are the originality of them.  They always stand out because of the ‘quirkiness’ of the characters and the colorful stature of the story settings.  This film is one that stands out as one of his best.  The reason being (as mentioned in my review) is because of the colorful cast of characters; as well as the deeply heartfelt sensation you find in the young leads.  The story focuses on a boy and girl; trying to find their own purpose as they run away from their New England town.   A simple tale of sorts is added depth through the whimsical dialogue, quirky situations and the overall thematic presences of growth, life and love.  The themes are vibrant through each and every one of the cast members, as they learn ‘meaningful’ reasons through the kids’ unorthodox decision.


perks4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – This is a very recent released film; but one that has grown on me since the first time I have watched it. There is a lot to be said, and if you want a complete detail, you can read my review.  In short, this is tale that shows you why being ‘different’ isn’t the same as being ‘bad’; showing how the most endearing of human flaws must be tackled ‘together’.  The reason this film is high on my list is because of the endearment of the situation.  It gives us a look into the life of teenage angst, peril and struggle on a poignant level.  That window into this kind of life is brought upon through realism; giving strength to the ‘coming-of-age’ tale from beginning to end.  ‘We are infinity’ will sting you in the most happiest of ways in the end.



stand by me3. Stand By Me – If there is one coming-of-age film that stands the test of times (for many), it is this 1986 classic. The situation is simple, but the meaning behind it is where the worth comes out. The journey to find the ‘missing boy’ is one that could have been influenced through a detective outlook; but the journey itself creates an allure of friendship.  It is a very genuine aspect of what it means to stand stronger beyond any trials and tribulations that you may face.  Each of the boys comes to find what it means to be ‘real’ friends; as well as what it means to be ‘real’ to themselves.  Not much more needs to be explained, but a recommendation to watch this if you haven.  This is one of the quintessential coming-of-age tales in film history.



the sandlot2. The Sandlot – If there was one film that gets stronger with age (no pun intended); this is a film that creates so much fun, passion and loveable excitement in why you enjoy your life as a child. The Sandlot (as with Stand By Me) is a coming-of-age film that so many deem as a true game changer and a classic. With being the ‘new kid’ in town, the young lad is taken under the wings of a young baseball fan and his team.  What we get from this general premise is a ‘colorful’ cast that goes about their small town on adventures of pure fun.  What makes this film a classic across ages is even with the film focus on a group of kids in their adolescent age; it is the ideal of friendship, fun and being together that create a complexion of realism for anyone of any age.  You see yourself as being one of the ‘kids on the sandlot’, playing sports, eating ice cream and having fun at the local pool in the summer.  The ideals of friendship, bonding and growing up are something everyone knows true to their heart.  What makes this such an endearing tale; making a fictional story feeling more like memories from your childhood.


Almost Famous1. Almost Famous – This is my number one coming-of-age film. Another film built on a simple premise; we follow a boy who tags along with a rock band on the road to write a story for The Rolling Stone. As generic as it may seem, this becomes a tale that shows the intricacies of the real meaning in ‘growing up’. You see a boy (who wants to become a writer). Chronicling not only a ‘bands’ tour; but the flaws that each of those people in the bus (including him) to deal with on a personal level.  Even his mother (who isn’t with him) is dealing with the same complex issues.  Set in the 1970s, you get a real facade of humanistic perspective filled with raw meaningful purpose and excitement.  There is a genuine feeling of hope, love, disgust and epiphanies found throughout the running time of this film.  You watch as even as you get older; you still are trying to reach some sort of ultimate ‘dream’.  Through the wits and charm of the characters and conversational script, you find that growth in each and every form in this film.  It is one that anyone can or will have dealt with in their lifetime.  From the relationships we have with friends, parents, colleagues and lovers; you see it all in the rawest form.  Through the complexion of the story’s setting; it breaks generations and creates a window where the subtleness is everlasting.  This is why Almost Famous is my number 1 coming of age film.

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