18. Juno (2007)
Offbeat high school student Juno MacGuff (played by the poignant and fun Ellen Page) learns she is pregnant in the first scenes of this quirky teen flick. Instead of an abortion, she seeks out to birth the child and hand it off to the perfect adoptive parents.
Filled with a sweet and unforgettable soundtrack, it’s the well rounded supporting cast that makes this film go round. The king of awkward Michael Cera plays the geeky Father while Jennifer Garner readies herself for Motherhood when Juno selects her as the future parent. Her husband (a passive Jason Bateman) isn’t sure if this is what he wants.
A lesson on maturity and keeping your cool amongst rumors and judgment – Juno is arguably one of the definitive characters of the twenty-first century. The film’s effect on popularizing teen pregnancy is also noticeable though certainly unintentional.
19. Persepolis (2007)
Based on a comic – Persepolis is the type of film you don’t see every day for a plethora of reasons. First of all the animation is in stark black and white which evidentially gives the story its color and character.
Next, it’s set in Iran and follows a girl named Marjane grow up in the mixture of war, strife, and a breaking family. When she moves to Austria, racism, homophobia, and classic teenage struggles are what Marjane faces.
Beautiful, on point, and clever in its use of eighties pop culture references, Persepolis is a great new perspective for North American audiences. There are different values mixed in with relatable interests. No matter where we are – we are all human and we all grow up.
20. Superbad (2007)
A canvas for dirty humor and penis drawings – Superbad arrived in the year where Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen rose as kings of the comedy world.
Apparently Seth and his writing partner even started this script when they were barely even teenagers. Years later, some heart and cultural updating were added and the script was shot (with Seth in a different role since he had grown too old to play a high school student).
We follow Michael Cera and Jonah Hill trying to get laid and buy booze for a party before the end of school. That’s it… that’s the plot. What makes it stand out is for its mixture of laugh out loud potty humor with heart. Beyond the escapades are two nervous boys, worried about the future of their friendship when they graduate and go to separate schools.
21. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
What if you’re coming of age story won you a million bucks on a popular game show? That’s the set up for the little indie film that took the world by storm in 2008.
Slumdog Millionaire was a Danny Boyle directed drama headed for a direct to video release when it got picked up on the festival circuit. With irresistible Bollywood dance sequences and the spicy flavor of India, Jamal is a young man simply answering questions right on this quiz show because he’s experienced so much.
Gangs, lost loves, slums, traveling – this boy has seen it all (which the show’s producers refuse to believe). Told in flashbacks, we are treated to the coming of age story memory by memory as all the hardship and struggle eventually pay off for our love struck hero.
22. Let The Right One In (2008)
Could we peg the cheesy eighties teen film The Lost Boys as the origin of good looking vampires in regular society movies? If not, Twilight surely pounded that stake into our hearts. Luckily the Swedish film Let The Right One In took the genre and turned it on its head.
We follow a bullied young boy looking for love and retribution until he meets a peculiar girl on a snowy night. She’s a vampire and feasts on the blood of those who wronged her (or were in the wrong place at the wrong time). Their friendship grows and a beautiful young relationship blooms as they seek out vengeance.
It’s just the glooming fact that she kills and drinks blood that might stand in the way of their true happiness. Dark and gory – horror fans should look no further for a coming of age vampire gem; this is it!
23. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Based on Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book, people were expecting a wild tale of a bad boy turned good through lovable party monsters on an island.
While the book’s themes run a little deeper – the adaptation could have easily gone in that direction. Luckily Spike Jonze took the role of director and steered the film into a wonderful life altering story of growth, change, and maturity. The animation style is like a painting – sunsets and mighty forests all around.
Touching on many different thoughts from grief, sadness, guilt, and dark unspoken feelings children have – the only word for this movie is beautiful. Plus, the crowning performance next to Tony Soprano is given by the hugely missed James Gandolfini.
24. Adventureland (2009)
Jesse Eisenberg needs money to go to journalism school and has no other choice but to get a job as a games host at a down and out amusement park (although he much rather run the rides). There, he makes friends with nerdy teens, has romances with pretty girls, and finds himself embarking on a rocky but necessary relationship with a never better Kristen Stewart. Oh, and it’s set in the eighties and has a killer soundtrack!
Adventureland is unexpectedly dark and slow which is what seemingly makes the film stand out. It does not possess a laugh a minute style, (although Bill Hadar and Kristen Wiig will constantly put a smile of your face) but simply lets the characters lives go where they need to – screwing up relationships and dreaming of better jobs. While it seemingly sucks now – the experience and friends they make will influence their life forever.
25. An Education (2009)
Introducing us to the wonderful Carey Mulligan, we get a glimpse of London in the early sixties when morals were being challenged and woman’s rights were banging at the door. Mulligan plays Jenny, a young hardworking student at the top of her class. When she meets an older man who woos her with art, music, and supposedly high class – she ditches everything the once held dear to be a part of that world.
Of course her Father played by the always perfectly uptight Alfred Molina has a thing or two to say about that. Subtle in exploring how far we’ve come in woman’s rights and views of relationships, the film is pretty to look at, but Mulligan’s performance leaves us with an example of the fine line one must walk for the balance fun and hard work.