By Matt P.
In honor of Oscar season, I’m providing top ten lists inspired by the eight movies nominated for best picture this year. My list of the top ten coming-of-age movies is inspired by Richard Linklater’s, Boyhood. Boyhood follows the life of young Mason from age six to eighteen. As most people know, Linklater shot this entire film using the same actors, in real time, over the course of twelve years. Although no movie on my list mirrors that technique, each film has one or more characters who experiences some of life’s little surprises and challenges. Some lessons are learned over multiple years and sometimes it only takes an extended weekend. You might just be reminded of your own upbringing, but I hope not because most of these are pretty dark.
10. Riding in Cars with Boys (2001)
Chick flick? Maybe. It’s only number ten because I’m a goddamn man! Riding in Cars with Boys tells the true story of Beverly D’Onofrio, a small town girl who gets pregnant at age fifteen. Skank for sure. You get to see Beverly and her son grow up simultaneously and Steve Zahn is a knockout as the drug-addicted baby-daddy. A hint to pregnant teens – become a published writer. It makes everything easier. The world needs more Steve Zahn too.
9. This is England (2006)
Okay so if you’re a troubled youth without direction, supervision, and friends, DO NOT join a gang of skinheads. They might seem nice and cool but they’re not! Shaun had to learn that the hard way in this gritty film based on the director’s life. What starts as an innocent group of misfits becomes dangerous when one aggressive and influential racist shows up. I think everyone can recall a time in their youth when childish antics went too far. Kids…am I right?
8. A Bronx Tale (1993)
Whoopi doo. Another gangster movie with De Niro. What? He’s a bus driver? That’s weird. A Bronx Tale tells the story of a young Bronx kid as he grows up under the influences of both his humble father and the neighborhood kingpin. It’s not easy to turn away from cool shit like money, gambling, and chicks, just because boring dad says not to. If it was me…suck it dad, I’m a gangster now. Oops, but what if you fall in love with a beautiful African princess from the wrong part of town in the 1960’s?
7. Antwone Fisher (2002)
Written, directed by, and starring Antwone Fisher (Chappelle’s Show anyone?). The people who refuse help are always the ones who need it most. That’s a thing people say. Those words definitely sum up Antwone Fisher, a violent navy man who is forced to see a psychiatrist after yet another outburst. Now that I think of it, it’s basically a black Good Will Hunting only Antwone isn’t as smart. Seriously, this movie brings me to tears every time.
6. A River Runs Through It (1992)
I often think 90’s Brad Pitt was too good looking for film. Even as a straight male I find his looks distracting. Luckily, this movie would hold up even without Pitt’s chin, which was chiseled by the Gods. The genius of this movie comes from its simplicity. A River Runs Through It tells the story a small Montana family and the unique relationship between brothers, Norman and Paul. I promise you, the cinematography alone automatically makes this movie worth a viewing.
5. The Last Picture Show (1971)
I once met a girl who had sixteen kids in her high school graduating class. On top of that, she said she’d known most of them since kindergarten. Imaging that! Everyone probably knows everything about one another, has dated one another, and you’re forced to be friends with one another. The Last Picture Show will magically whisk you away to that setting, in fact, it ups the ante a little. You’re also in a poor, dying, Texas town in the 1950’s. I wouldn’t want to live through it, but watching it is quite entertaining. And a young Cybill Shepherd (cat noise).
4. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
In case you couldn’t tell from the title, this movie is in Spanish. Watching a sexy senorita bang a couple of young Mexicans has never been less satisfying (in a good way). In Y Tu Mama Tambien, two best friends find out, through their attraction towards an older woman, that they may not be such great friends after all. This movie examines the power woman can have over men, and the sad fact that most casino high school friendships fade away. De nada.
3. Almost Famous (2000)
This movie really hit close to home for me. I too had an older, rebellious sister with an insane music collection. Almost Famous is basically a documentary on my life…minus the concert tour and Rolling Stones…and the 70’s. Well, I wish it was my life. You want a coming-of-age movie? Watch a fifteen year old high school senior go on the ride of his life with an up and coming rock band in the 70’s. Throw in young-hot Kate Hudson, a bitchin’ Elton John sing-along, and you’re good to go.
2. Stand by Me (1986)
Nothing says growing up like going on a multi-day hike looking for a dead body. Like most great movies, Stand by Me will make you laugh, cry, and reflect. If you can’t relate to at least one character in this movie then you’re not human. It really shows how much kids absorb and how quickly they can become a product of their household environment, for better or worse. Teaser: The number one pick also involves kids seeing a dead body.
1. Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Maybe I’m late to the party on this, but it wasn’t until I made this list that I realized the true significance of an early scene in Boyz n the Hood. Within the first ten minutes of the movie a group of four young boys take a quick little walk to a nearby neighborhood to view the decaying corpse of a slain gang member. Sound familiar? It should because that’s a shortened version of my number two pick. Damn that just speaks volumes. That’s pretty much the director saying Stand by Me is pussy shit and this is the fucking ghetto! Not only is it easy to find a dead body, it’s no big deal either. In case you weren’t sure, I’m a white male (very rare in the movie writing game, I know). So I can’t say for sure, but I believe this movie takes an extremely honest and hard look at life in the ghettos of Southern California. You better grow up fast there because a lot the residents don’t grow up at all. Ice Cube also showed the world he could act.
There you have it, the Top Ten Coming-of-Age Movies. Disagree with some of my picks? Feel free to leave comments. Want to give me god-like praise? Feel even freer to leave comments.
About the author
Matt P. is a podcaster, improviser, and film lover. He resides in Chicago, Illinois and by day he works as an accountant dreaming of a better life. By night, he co-hosts the Matt & Andrew Vs Society Podcast. Find it on iTunes. Matt has also studied improvisation and comedy writing at The Second City and Improv Olympics in Chicago.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.