We Ranked Them: The Best High School Movies of All Time

High school movies are a favorite genre for many people. For the millennials, these movies remind them of a time when they were young with nostalgia and some pleasant memories. Gen Z, on the other hand, gets to enjoy a more relatable story of their everyday life experiences.

James Dean / Efren Ramirez and Jon Heder / Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ethan Embry / Emma Stone
Source: Moviestilldb

But like all movie genres, there’ve been some high school movies that have just been so good. Here, we rank the top 50, with one honorable mention to make it 51! If you’ve not seen any of them, we recommend you add them to your watchlist ASAP! Lights, camera, action!

51. Just One of the Guys (1985)

This 1985 film, like the 2006 Amanda Bynes film She’s the Man, tackles the injustice of sexism for young women in a mimic of Shakespeare’s gender-bending play Twelfth Night. Terri (Joyce Hyser) is convinced that her professors are unfairly criticizing her because she’s a girl. What does she do?

Joyce Hyser, William Zabka, Clayton Rohner, Billy Jayne, and Steven Basil
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Sony Pictures

She disguises herself as a boy. The film is one of the few 80s teen films directed by a woman (Lisa Gottlieb). It also serves as a subversive alternative to the boy-focused films of the era. The movie made almost $90 million worldwide on a $5 million budget.

50. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004)

Although this 2004 comedy isn’t close to the ingenuity of Mean Girls, it’s a fun companion to a night of Lindsay Lohan bingeing. Lola (Lohan) is a new student at school who befriends the straight-edged Ella (Alison Pill) and annoys the popular girl Carla (Megan Fox) by grabbing the lead in the school play.

Lindsau Lohan performs on stage.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Walt Disney Pictures

But Lola is also a compulsive liar, and her deception eventually catches up with her. Hilary Duff was originally offered the role of Lola but Lohan got the role when Duff pulled out. The film did well at the box office, garnering $29 million domestically and $33 million worldwide.

49. Lady Bird (2017)

If you haven’t seen this one, what are you doing?! Greta Gerwig’s five-time Oscar nominee stars Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird, an anxious senior at a Catholic high school in California who wants nothing more than to get away and attend college on the East Coast.

Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstine.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: A24

As her relationship with her mother deteriorates, she abandons her best friend (Beanie Feldstein) to hang out with the popular kids. The 2017 coming-of-age film expertly tackles issues like college applications, friend friction, and crushes in a delightfully honest way. Fun fact: The initial working title was Mothers and Daughters.

48. Hairspray (2007)

Another one that rightfully takes its place on this list is Hairspray. Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) is a plus-size kid who skips school to apply for a local television dance show that some of her friends are also part of. We love this movie because it addresses pressing societal concerns.

The cast of Hairspray pose for a picture.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: New Line Cinema

These include body positivity and inclusion. Set in Baltimore in 1962, it also deals with racial discrimination and integration. Hairspray made its North American premiere in 3,121 theaters, the most of any modern movie musical. The movie also stars Zac Efron and made $27.5 million on its first weekend!

47. Jawbreaker (1999)

Definitely one to watch! This 1999 dark comedy ushered in a new-age subgenre of popular girls doing bad stuff, including the murderous beauty queens of Drop Dead Gorgeous and the bank-robbing cheerleaders of Sugar and Spice from 2001. This classic follows three cruel girls, perhaps the most cunning bunch.

Rose McGowan, Julie Benz, and Judy Greer walk down the hallway.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: TriStar Pictures

They try to cover up the death of their fourth member due to a prank gone wrong. When Fern Mayo (Judy Greer), a shy, uncomfortable classmate, learns the truth, the three buy her silence by enabling her to join their clique. We heard a TV series is being developed.

46. Cooley High (1975)

If you’ve always undermined movies made in the 70s and 80s, you’re missing out. Cooley High is a 1975 film that addressed the lifestyle of Black kids in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project long before director John Singleton’s landmark story of South-Central L.A. youths Boyz n the Hood.

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Corin Rogers, and Glynn Turman
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: American International Pictures

Seniors at Edwin G. Cooley Vocational High School skip class, hang out with their crushes, and go to parties, just like in the other realistic teen stories we love. However, things go bad when one of the characters, who has just obtained a college scholarship, is a victim of violence.

Preserved in the National Film Registry

We just couldn’t resist. This movie is a classic that you should add to your watchlist ASAP. Written by Eric Monte and directed by Michael Schultz, it was a box office hit. It was made on a $750,000 budget and grossed $13 million at the domestic box office.

A still from Cooley High
Source: YouTube

This ranks it in the top 30 highest-grossing films of 1975. Cooley High was dubbed a “classic of black cinema” by NPR in a 40th-anniversary retrospective in 2015. The Library of Congress chose the film for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry in 2021 because it was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

45. Rushmore (1998)

Anyone who’s seen Napoleon Dynamite will probably call it the quirkiest high school comedy. But this Wes Anderson movie from 1998 could give Napoleon a run for his money. Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) thinks he’s a genius, but he’s actually the worst student at Rushmore Academy.

Jason Schwartzman writes on a blackboard
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Touchstone Pictures

And things couldn’t get worse when he starts crushing on a teacher (Olivia Williams). Max gets expelled and he needs to figure out where he belongs in the world. Fun fact: Anderson revealed Max’s character is a semi-autobiography of himself. If you like 60s bands, you’ll enjoy this classic even more.

44. School Ties (1992)

This undervalued gem, often overshadowed by fellow 1950s-set elite prep school film Dead Poets Society, follows a scholarship football player who hides his Jewish origin from his anti-Semitic colleagues but is eventually implicated in a cheating scandal. This movie has a talented list of young male stars from the 1990s.

Football players are huddled before the game.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Paramount Pictures

Ben Affleck, Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Cole Hauser, and Chris O’Donnell star in the movie. Sadly, the theme is unfortunately still relevant today, but the movie also emphasizes crucial lessons about discrimination and acceptance. Although the film initially got mixed reviews, we rate this one highly.

43. Varsity Blues (1999)

James Van Der Beek plays Mox, a popular student and reticent football player at war with his football-obsessed father and his dictatorial coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight) in this 1999 high school sports film. Mox becomes the new quarterback after a career-ending injury to another player (Paul Walker).

Paul Walker and James Van Der Beek in a still from the film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Paramount Pictures

This was due to Kilmer’s strange tactics. We admit that the melodrama can be a bit extreme (Mox shouting to his dad, “I don’t want [dramatic pause] your life!”), the movie still reminds us of what happens when you put too much pressure on young athletes.

42. Fame (1980)

Unless you were a super-talented actress, singer, or dancer (better yet, all three) attending New York City’s High School of Performing Arts, this isn’t your regular high school. Apart from the usual academic and parental drama, these urban teenagers face the pressure of honing their art.

The cast of Fame breaksout into dance.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: MGM

In addition to that, there’s dealing with drugs, coming out, unwanted pregnancy, and the murky underbelly of show business, as this 1980 film takes viewers through the cast’s four high school years. As a bonus, we get to see the kids perform vibrant musical routines, showcasing their talents.

41. Lucas (1986)

Have you ever been rejected by your crush? We don’t think any movie has ever expressed the pain of rejection better than this 1986 classic. The movie stars the late Corey Haim as a shy nerd that builds a sweet bond with Maggie (Kerri Green).

Kerri Green and Charlie Sheen
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: 20TH Century Fox

But he’s trapped in the friend zone. He joins the high school football team in a desperate attempt to capture her attention, despite being regularly attacked by jocks with near-tragic repercussions. We don’t want to drop spoilers, but we expect you’re adding this to your watchlist already!

40. Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)

Even though most of this arguably derivative 1998 film takes place at a high school graduation celebration rather than at school, it’s nevertheless a delightful ride with far less misogyny than many other teen films. The characters (the usual prom queen, jock, geek, sensitive man, and outcast) learn about life.

Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ethan Embry are at a party.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Co;umbia Pictures

They also learn about each other, and what they want from their futures through linked narratives. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Seth Green, and Lauren Ambrose star in the movie. It made a total domestic gross of $25,605,015, more than double its production cost.

39. Pretty in Pink (1986)

Back to some happy-go-lucky John Hughes movies: In this 1986 movie about class divisions at a suburban Chicago high school, 80s darling Molly Ringwald reprises her role as Hughes’ muse. Andie (Ringwald) is from the wrong side of the tracks, as is her buddy Duckie (Jon Cryer), who is secretly in love with her.

John Cryer, Molly Ringwals and Andrew McCarthy pose together.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Paramount Pictures

When rich boy Blane (Andrew McCarthy) shows interest in her, she is unsure whether to trust him, especially after his buddies laugh at her, including possibly the best actor ever at playing an 80s-era jerk, James Spader. The plot isn’t particularly original, but it’s filled with a warmth that we don’t often see from Hughes.

38. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Hughes was clearly one of the greatest American filmmakers. So, to have two (or more?) of his movies on this list is deserved. This 1987 film written by Hughes is practically the same as Pretty in Pink, but with the gender roles reversed and a different ending.

Eric Stoltz, Lea Thompson, and Mary Stuart Masterson pose together.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Paramount Pictures

If you believe Andie should have wound up with Duckie, you’ll enjoy this film, starring Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson as poor-side-of-town friends Keith and Watts. Watts discovers she’s in love with Keith after he asks out rich classmate Amanda (Lea Thompson). A good addition to a binge-watching night!

37. Scream (1996)

Scream, one of the first self-aware teen horror films, was released in 1996 and satirizes the genre with wit and a decent amount of blood. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), whose mother was murdered a year earlier, is among the pupils of a California high school being stalked by a killer.

Drew Barrymore screams while talking on the phone.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Lionsgate Entertainment

Heads up, Sidney’s tight escape in the school restroom and the murder of the school principal (Henry Winkler) are particularly terrifying scenes. Scream was initially developed by an aspiring writer, Kevin Williamson, under the title Scary Movie. Well, it is scary but still a great watch!

36. Heathers (1989)

This chilling 1989 satire on high school life doesn’t get much grimmer than this. Veronica (Winona Ryder) and her new bad-boy boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater) begin a revenge-killing spree against the nasty girls in her clique, all of whom happen to be named Heather. They then disguise the murders as suicides.

Winona Ryder, Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, and Kim Walker pose together.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: New World Pictures

Heathers initially flopped at the box office, but it has since gained renown for its daring and unsettling portrayal of teen bullying and brutality. Several actors and actresses even turned down the movie due to the grim theme. Justine Bateman and Jennifer Connelly were early contenders for Veronica’s role.

35. Better Off Dead (1985)

This 1985 dark comedy is on the opposite end of the dramatic range of suicide-themed films. After his girlfriend dumps him, teen Lane Meyer (John Cusack) tries—and constantly fails—to commit suicide, but then falls for a French foreign exchange student. The quirky humor undoubtedly skirts the line between offensive and bizarre.

John Cusack and Diane Franklin sit ontop of a carhood.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bros

Admittedly, it’s unlikely to be produced today but has become a cult classic that fans either love or hate. Cusack disliked the film for personal reasons and even walked out of a viewing, later confronting director Steve Holland and declaring Better Off Dead “was the worst thing I have ever seen.”

34. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

This uplifting 2012 film explores several sensitive issues including despair, suicide, sexual abuse, and homophobia, as well as typical teen bullying, makeout sessions, and casual drug usage. However, the performances, which include Logan Lerman from Percy Jackson and Emma Watson offer this coming-of-age story depth, sensitivity, and maturity.

Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller pose for a photo.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Summit Entertainment

From what we hear, director Stephen Chbosky blended fictitious and personal experiences into the novel, which took four months to write and a year to draft the script. Chbosky refused to sell the film’s rights unless the studio agreed to let him adapt and direct it. And they did.

33. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

Take a moment and imagine if you had the chance to relive high school. What would you do differently? That’s the dilemma here. Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) got married and pregnant shortly after high school graduation in 1960 in this “what if?” 1986 Francis Ford Coppola fantasy.

Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage are dancing.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: TriStar Pictures

She faints while at her reunion 25 years later, amid a divorce, and when she wakes up, she’s 17 again and has time-traveled back to high school. Will she dump her boyfriend (Nicolas Cage) while she still has the chance? Another one to add to the growing watchlist!

32. Booksmart (2019)

Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut follows two bookworm best friends (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) on their last day of high school. When they learn that the hard-partying girls also got into the best colleges, they resolve to go crazy and make up for the lost time.

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in a scene from the film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: United Artists

There’s sex and drugs, but there’s also wit and emotion in this film. Booksmart made $22.7 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $2.2 million in other regions, for a total of $24.9 million globally. Dan the Automator composed the score.

31. Superbad (2007)

High school boys are always vowing to lose their virginity. It’s something we’ve seen over the years. This is the topic of Superbad, a highly successful 2007 movie produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by Seth Rogan. It stars Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. Beanie Feldstein, Hill’s sister, also appeared in Booksmart.

Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in a scene from the film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Sony Pictures

Some of you might find the raunchy antics and overboard sight gags a bit too much. But it’s almost impossible not to laugh at the nerdy McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). What are you waiting for? Another one to watch if you haven’t already.

30. House Party (1990)

The majority of high school movies focus on largely white suburbanites, yet this revolutionary 1990 comedy depicts Black kids going through similar high school experiences. We get to see the fight with bullies in the school cafeteria as well as sneaking out to go to a party.

Martin Lawrence and Paul Anthony.
Source: Pinterest

All of this is heightened by exciting hip-hop tracks and the charming leading duo Kid ‘n Play. It also featured Paul Anthony, Bow-Legged Lou, B-Fine from Full Force, and Robin Harris (who unfortunately died of a heart attack nine days after House Party was released).

29. Election (1999)

Reese Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick, a driven high school student who has a vicious determination to win the election for class president before she goes to law school. In this brilliant and sarcastic 1999 satire of the electoral process, her teacher rival (Ferris Bueller’s Matthew Broderick) learns about it.

Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon share a conversation.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Paramount Pictures

Then he enters his own candidate. In 2011, a rough workprint of the film’s original conclusion was discovered in a box of VHS cassettes at a yard sale. Election failed to meet expectations at the box office, grossing only $17.2 million against a budget of $8.5-25 million.

28. Stand and Deliver (1988)

This 1988 film is a classic example of the “teacher changes students’ lives” theme. Edward James Olmos was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of a real-life East L.A. math teacher who inspires a group of inner-city teenagers to take the AP Calculus exam in their final year.

A photo of Edward James Olmos and Lou Diamond Phillips
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bros.

The students enjoy remarkable results. It is based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, a high school mathematics teacher. The movie is ranked #86 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Cheers list from 2006. And it comfortably sits at #28 on our list!

27. Easy A (2010)

This 2010 rendition of The Scarlet Letter demonstrates that high school life isn’t all that uncommon from puritanical times: It’s all too simple to be labeled for what you may (or may not) have done. A rumor emerges that Olive (Emma Stone) slept with a college guy.

Emma Stone walks down the school hallways.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Sony Pictures

Instead of debunking the rumor, she embraces her new popularity by encouraging geeky classmates to claim she had sex with them in exchange for gift cards and other favors. Olive must find a way to come clean when her scheme backfires and she is offered money for actual sex.

26. Love, Simon (2018)

This insightful 2018 comedy received plaudits not only for its sweet portrayal of coming out but also for being the first mainstream teen rom-com to feature a gay protagonist. A third student finds out that Simon (Nick Robinson) emailed another closeted gay youngster at his school and threatens to expose him.

Katherine Langford and Nick Robinson share a lunch at school.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright:20th Century Fox

We know it explores familiar ground in terms of teen blackmail, relentless gossip, and friend/crush tension, but it ushered in a new era in the teen genre and spawned a Hulu spinoff series, Love, Victor. Bleachers, Normani, and Khalid are among the artists featured on the film’s soundtrack.

25. Bring It On (2000)

This 2000 cheerleading film offers depth. When Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) is named captain of her high school’s prestigious squad, she discovers their routines have been stolen from the East Compton Clovers. She tries to come up with their own creative routine in time for Nationals.

The cast of bring it on performs a cheer.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Universal Studios

At the same time, she also tries to make amends with the Clovers. The majority of the film’s sequences were shot in various locales and high schools in San Diego County, as well as at San Diego State University. The film used local high school cheer squads as extras.

24. Grease (1978)

While some have said Grease is inappropriate for a high school theatrical production, the 1978 film adaptation is a classic for adults. Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) is a naïve teen exchange student who is sucked in by the Pink Ladies, a wild girl gang who hangs out with the greaser T-Birds.

Olivia Newton John and John Travolta pose together.
Source: Getty Images

The gang is led by Sandy’s love interest, Danny (John Travolta). Should she abandon her rigid traditions (and, some argue, her own identity and self-worth) to be with Danny? Yes, it has its shortcomings, but fans are helplessly in love with the nostalgic high school musical.

23. Carrie (1976)

As this iconic 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel demonstrates, high school can be pure horror. Outcast Carrie (Sissy Spacek) possesses telekinetic powers, and when the physical and emotional abuse from her mother and classmates becomes too much, she exacts her deadly payback at the school prom.

Sissy Spacek gets crownd as prom queen.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: MGM

It’s a terrifying reminder of the trauma that bullying can cause, as well as the long-term effects that parents may have on their kids. Fun fact: Carrie was Stephen King’s first novel to be made into a feature film. Carrie was a box-office success, grossing $33.8 million.

22. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

In this edgy 2016 film, an Asian boy (Canadian Hayden Szeto) is cast as a potential love interest. It’s forbidden for your bestie and older brother to date, but that’s what happens to high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), placing pressure on both her family and her friendship with her bestie.

Hailee Steinfeld talks to her teacher, Woody Harrelson.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: STX Entertainment

Instead, she leans on her connection with Szeto, a nerdy classmate, and a kind teacher (Woody Harrelson). The film gracefully discusses tough issues like insecurities, suicidal thoughts, feeling like an outcast, and so on. It’s also significant for being written and directed by a woman (Kelly Fremon Craig).

21. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Imagine what would happen if the whole school read your diary. This Netflix hit burst into our screens in 2018 and generated a 2021 sequel and a third forthcoming feature based on Jenny Han’s YA book series. Lara Jean (Lana Condor), a high school student, penned secret letters to five former crushes.

Lana Condor and Noah Centineo shake hands in a still from the film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Netflix

She never intended to send them, but when they are accidentally mailed, she is forced to face them about her true feelings. The diversity with a female Asian-American lead character and a female writer and director is commendable, but the film received some criticism for not including any Asian-American boys among her crushes.

20. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

This portrayal of moral decadence among American youth, featuring James Dean in his iconic red jacket, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo, was one of the first of the genre when it was released in 1955. Its assessment of the generational divide between parents and teens was groundbreaking—and heartbreaking to viewers.

James Dean as Jim Stark.
Source: Getty Images

Dean, the new kid at school, gets into a dangerous gang while falling for Judy, the wild child (Wood). The last scene at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is classic teen melodrama at its best. Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, and Nicholas Ray were nominated for Academy Awards.

19. She’s All That (1999)

In this 1999 movie, popular guy Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) pretends to fall in love (and you got it right), then actually falls in love with artsy geek Laney (Rachel Leigh Cook) for real. There are some familiar faces here, including Gabriel Union, Usher, and the late Paul Walker.

A poster of Freddie Prinze Jr and Rachael Leigh Cook.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Miramax Films

“Kiss Me” was the main theme song. And after the movie experienced a huge box office success, it climbed to No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list and stayed in the Top 10 for 16 consecutive weeks. In fact, the movie was released as “Kiss Me” in Italy.

18. High School Musical (2006)

Parents looking for a fun flick to watch with the kids need look no further than this 2006 Disney film starring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens as star-crossed lovers from different high school cliques. One is the new girl challenging the reigning drama queen; the other is the school basketball star.

Troy and Gabriella sing together on New Years Eve.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Buena Vista Televition

With catchy songs and Disney-esque messaging, the flick reminds us that “We’re All in This Together.” Here’s a fun fact: High School Musical was the first feature-length video released by the iTunes Store in mid-March 2006. It’s a good watch that deserves its place on this list.

17. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

In this 1999 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, the late, great Heath Ledger co-stars alongside Julia Stiles. Bianca can’t date until her elder sister, Kat (Stiles), a clever, angry feminist, does, so Patrick (Ledger) accepts a bribe to romance her. But—surprise!—things don’t go as planned.

Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles share a moment in the film.
Source: Getty Images

The couple ends up falling in love. The film remains relevant and amusing while undercutting misogyny. Keep an eye out for the spectacular end-credits scene, featuring Letters to Cleo performing “I Want You to Want Me” from the roof of the castle-like high school overlooking Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.

16. Dazed and Confused (1993)

This 1993 film depicts high school teenagers traveling around in cars, learning how to deal with their futures, hosting a kegger in the woods, and smoking weed. It’s set on the last day of school in 1976 Texas. The cast features Jason London, Parker Posey, and Ben Affleck.

Wiley Wiggins and Rory Cochrane in a still from the movie.
Photo by Gramercy Pictures/Getty Images

Matthew McConaughey is also among the cast, and he even delivers his now-famous line, “Alright, alright, alright!” The film also features a funky soundtrack from the 1970s. The film is credited by the Rotten Tomatoes editorial team for “putting Austin, Texas, on the map.” We’ll admit that’s quite the honor!

15. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

We can’t believe this 1982 teen favorite, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, and Phoebe Cates, is nearly 40 years old—and it’s still as authentic, primal, and raunchy as it was then. While it has its share of laughter, it also deals with serious issues such as losing virginity.

Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh work as waitresses.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Universal Studios

It also touches on stuff like abortion and being caught in a compromising situation by your crush. Cameron Crowe, who wrote the screenplay based on his 1981 book Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story went undercover at Clairemont High School in San Diego and wrote about his experiences.

14. Clueless (1995)

Some who’ve watched this will argue it deserves a higher rank. Maybe. But it surely deserves its place on any high school movie list. This mid-1990s adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma by writer/director Amy Heckerling made Alicia Silverstone a star and introduced audiences to a new teen lingo.

Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash walk down the school hallways.
Photo by Paramount Pictures/Getty Images

Cher (Silverstone), a wealthy, pampered Beverly Hills high schooler, matchmakes her friends and teachers, often with funny results—but will she find love for herself? In a sea of teen boy movies that had come before, Clueless had fantastic couture and a strong, if flawed, young female protagonist.

13. Risky Business (1983)

No mincing words, this is a must-watch. You’ll agree the first thing that comes to mind from this Tom Cruise classic is the iconic socks-and-underwear moment. It’s been parodied a million times, but it’s still hilarious. Risky Business is nominally a high school movie, yes.

Tom Cruise flashes his dashing smile.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bros.

But some viewers may be unaware that it is somewhat racy. The film’s R rating is justified, given that it contains explicit scenes. While his parents are abroad, Cruise’s character, Joel, opens a teen brothel at home. Materialism, loss of innocence, and capitalism are among the issues explored in the film.

12. American Graffiti (1973)

Although American Graffiti was released in 1973, it is set in the year 1962. Ron Howard starred in this just before Richie took Happy Days by storm. George Lucas directed and co-wrote American Graffiti, which is essentially the last fling for teenagers on the verge of adulthood.

Ron Howard drives his car.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Universal Studios

Steve, the former class president, is off to college, but Laurie, the head cheerleader, is still in high school. This film was the first of a series of “one night in the life of a teen” films, featuring everything from a sock hop in the school gym to car cruising.

11. Friday Night Lights (2004)

Friday Night Lights is based on the book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger. The plot revolves around the Permian High Panthers, a high school football team from Odessa, Texas, in 1988. Football movies like this did exceptionally well in the 2000s.

A poster for Friday Night Lights
Source: YouTube

That’s because they united people around the spirit of teamwork. More serious than Varsity Blues, this film explores racism, class, abuse, and alcoholism while focusing on America’s infatuation with high school football. Bissinger’s book was made into a television series of the same name in 2006, which aired through 2011.

10. Sixteen Candles (1984)

Unsurprisingly, there are multiple John Hughes films on our list. This was the first of many of his 80s teen comedy classics and one of his best works overall. Molly Ringwald plays a teen who, despite it being her 16th birthday, feels invisible, especially to her crush, Jake Ryan.

Michael Schoeffling and Molly Ringwald share a cake.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Universal Pictures

In light of #MeToo and the ongoing teardown of rape culture, numerous scenes in this film are completely out of date by today’s consent standards, which Ringwald has discussed. But, for many 1980s kids, the film still has a special place in their hearts, and we can see why.

9. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Honestly, we think this is the quirkiest high school film ever. The titular Idaho teenager (Jon Heder) and his similarly uncomfortable classmates, Deb (Tina Majorino) and Mexican transfer student Pedro (Efren Ramirez), compete for class president in this 2004 indie film. The strangely funny film struck a real chord with fans.

Efren Ramirez and Jon Heder pramore Vote For Pedro.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Fox Searchlight Pictures

No wonder it was a smash hit. The film has gained a cult following and was ranked 14th on Bravo’s list of the 100 funniest movies. Although it was made on a shoestring budget of $400,000, it had grossed nearly $45 million less than a year after its premiere.

8. American Pie (1999)

Of course, we couldn’t leave this off the list. In this teen sex comedy, a group of high school students forms a pact to lose their virginity before graduation. Although the female protagonists are more empowered than their 1980s counterparts, several scenes belong in the 20th century.

Jason Biggs stands next to the apple pie in his kitchen.
Photo by Universal/Getty Images

The film was a box-office success, and three sequels were released: American Pie 2 (2001), American Wedding (2003), and American Reunion (2012). Turns out, people like watching this movie at home because it has grossed more than $109 million worldwide in home video rentals. We wonder why…

7. Juno

Juno was one of the best gifts of 2007. It chronicles the experience of Juno, a teen who is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. Her parents support her when she decides to get acquainted with Mark and Vanessa, an affluent couple hoping to adopt a child.

Elliot Page and Michael Cera in a still from the film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: 20th Century Fox

Juno and Mark become friends via music, but Mark begins to act strangely and leaves Vanessa. We’d love to go on, but for the sake of those who haven’t seen it, this is as far as we’ll go! But what are you waiting for? This one should definitely be on your watchlist.

6. Remember the Titans (2000)

This inspirational 2000 high school football film based on a true story isn’t only about winning the big game, it also tackles the more difficult subject of race at a newly integrated Virginia high school in 1971. The team hires a new Black coach, Herman Boone (Denzel Washington).

Coach Boon played by Demzel runs his players through training.
Source: Getty Images

And he is entrusted with not just leading the team to victory, but also with overcoming racism among the players, community, school board, and even referees. Due to the PG rating, the subtleties of the subject are minimized, but it’s an excellent starting place for discussing the topic with younger audiences.

5. The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club needs no introduction, and if you haven’t watched it, now it is the time. It’s a pop-culture institution that was created by an unusual group of kids serving Saturday school detention. The R-rated movie from the 1980s is one of Hughes’ most well-known works.

The cast of The Breakfast Club sit in the library.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Universal Studios

Allison, Brian, John, Andrew, and Claire, a fantastic cast of characters, band together against the school principal who is watching them. It is regarded as one of Hughes’ most memorable and recognized works by critics. The five major actors in the film were dubbed the “Brat Pack” by the media.

4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Are you tired of the Hughes movies yet? Here’s one last one. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of the most iconic films of all time. Bueller is played by Matthew Broderick, a Chicago kid who knows how to get himself out of school.

A photo of Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, and Alan Ruck.
Photo by Paramount/Getty Images

Ferris has a full day off with Jennifer Grey as his snoopy sister, Jeanie, and Alan Ruck and Mia Sara as his hooky buddies. Ferris may be on the run from Principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), but he can still jump on a float singing “Twist and Shout” by Ira Newborn.

3. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society is one of Robin Williams’ finest roles. Williams portrays John Keating, a teacher at the elite Welton Academy. Keating is one of the most brilliant teachers featured in a film, inspiring his students to seize the day and revolt against the status quo using classic poetry.

Robbin Williams talks to his students in the film.
Photo by Touchstone Pictures/Getty Images

The film also deals with a student’s suicide, which serves as a terrible reminder of Williams’ real-life death. One thing many don’t know is Liam Neeson was originally cast in the role of John Keating before Peter Weir took over the directing duties from Jeff Kanew. A truly inspiring one!

2. Back to the Future (1985)

Michael J. Fox created a powerful trilogy of Back to the Future films, but most fans prefer the first to the rest, when Marty McFly takes a wild voyage back to 1955 in Doc Brown’s DeLorean. We promise not to ruin it by going into details. Pinky swear!

 still of Michael J. Fox.
Photo by Universal/Getty Images

No matter what era you attended high school, it’s impossible not to be enthralled by this 80s classic. The 17-year-old 80s teen gains a whole new perspective on high school from this cinematic excellence. Fans can read more about the trilogy and purchase merchandise on the film’s website.

1. Love and Basketball (2000)

And taking the number one spot despite the vicious competition is Love and Basketball! This 2000 movie tells the story of two childhood sweethearts brought together by their love for the sport. It follows their growth from youth to high school and beyond, and both are the stars of their school’s basketball teams.

A poster for the film.
Source: Pinterest

Each played college basketball at USC and now plays in a professional league. Join us as we watch (for the thousandth time) what happens when Quincy and Monica figure out how to combine their dreams with their love. What are you waiting for? Time to watch some movies!