These High School Movies Will Make You Feel So Nostalgic

·16 min read
Photo credit: Everett Collection and Netflix
Photo credit: Everett Collection and Netflix


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Ah, high school. Between first loves, football games, super-close friendships, and the whole concept of figuring out who you are, there’s enough drama to keep things interesting — even if you didn’t go to Euphoria High. And even if your high school days are long behind you, there’s something kinda nostalgic about watching a dramatic coming-of-age movie about kids who are still figuring it all out. Or maybe a raunchy high school comedy à la Superbad or Booksmart is more your speed. Whichever vibe you prefer, we’ve rounded up the best high school movies you can watch now.

Some high school movies feel almost like fantasy. Like, where were all these handsome guys with chiseled jawlines when I was in high school? And, um, I would have also loved to find out that I was the Princess of Genovia like Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries. But I digress. Other high school movies are more realistic, meaning they will *definitely* remind you of some of your most cringe-worthy teenage moments, but hey, we all have to stay humble somehow.

These are the 60 best high school movies to make you feel like a teen again (but only for a couple hours, so chill out). Good news: If you're not actually a teen anymore, you're allowed to enjoy a glass of wine with these movies.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

This classic just might make you want to call out sick, spring your best friends from school despite a suspicious vice principal, "borrow" a Ferrari, and spend the day treating yourself to museums and lavish meals. Extra credit if you end up performing in a parade before the day is over.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower



This tender movie based on the book of the same name follows Charlie, a socially awkward high school freshman struggling with his mental health after the suicide of his best friend. He meets two charismatic high school seniors who take him under their wing and teach him about friendship, love, heartbreak, and how to stop watching life from the sidelines. Get the tissues ready.

Licorice Pizza

Watch this one before the Oscars. This movie follows Gary Valentine, a precocious high school student/child actor who becomes enamored with Alana, an aimless 25-year-old working for a school photographer when they meet. It follows them through the next few years, as they start businesses together, become close friends, fight, make up, and live through the ups and downs of the early 1970s.

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She's the Man

Based very loosely on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, this 2006 movie follows Viola, who disguises herself as her twin brother to attend his elite boarding school in his place. Naturally, shenanigans ensue.

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17 Again

Two words: Zac Efron! This follows Mike, a 37-year-old whose life is kinda falling apart. One night, he's miraculously transformed back into his 17-year-old self and given the opportunity to relive his glory days as a high school basketball player.

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The Half of It

The Half of It follows Ellie Chu, a bookish teenager who agrees to write a love letter to her classmate Aster on behalf of a jock-ish classmate, Paul. Paul and Ellie get close, but tensions arise as Ellie develops romantic feelings for Aster.

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Banana Split

This messy, relatable movie about heartbreak and friendship is definitely worth a watch. April and Nick break up near the end of their senior year of high school. He starts dating a girl named Clara shortly after, and April is devastated. But then, she and Clara realize they have more in common (besides Nick) and become close friends. It's surprisingly sweet, and reminds you of all the drama of high school relationships.

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Sierra Burgess Is A Loser

Smart but unpopular high school student Sierra starts texting with a cute guy, only to realize he thinks he's texting another person, and that person just happens to be Sierra's popular mean-girl classmate Veronica. Awkward! Sierra offers to tutor Veronica in exchange for help with texting him, but of course, things don't go according to plan.

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The Kissing Booth

Elle and Lee have been best friends since birth, but they have a few rules for their friendship, including one that says Lee's older brother Noah is *very* off-limits. But when Noah and Elle kiss as part of their school fundraiser, it kicks off a romance that definitely breaks the rules. If you like this one, good news: There's a Kissing Booth 2 and a Kissing Booth 3 available to stream on Netflix.

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Moxie

Fed up with the constant sexism at her school, from boys ranking girls on their body parts (um, EWW) to administrators who don't do anything about reported harassment, a shy 16-year-old decides to make a change. Inspired by her mom's rebellious past, she publishes an anonymous zine calling out the sexism.

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The Prom

Talk about an all-star cast. I mean, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, AND Kerry Washington?? Amazing. It revolves around a high school in small-town Indiana, where the PTA has decided to cancel prom rather than let a lesbian student bring her girlfriend to the dance. A group of struggling Broadway actors hears about this, and they head to Indiana to show their support (and give their careers a nice little publicity boost).

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Tall Girl

High school is awkward enough already, but when you're a young woman over six feet tall, it sure doesn't make things easier. Jodi is the eponymous tall girl, who starts to fall for a handsome Swedish exchange student.

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Juno

This quirky movie about a pregnant high school student gave us so much, like hamburger phones and the reintroduction of the word "homeskillet." Plus Michael Cera being adorably awkward in gold shorts.

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Say Anything

This 1989 movie about an end-of-high-school romance is seriously so sweet. It follows Lloyd, a kind underachiever, and Diane, the class valedictorian. They begin to fall for each other, despite their differences and the objections of Diane's father. If nothing else, you've gotta see the iconic "In Your Eyes" boombox scene.

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Napoleon Dynamite

Remember when everyone was wearing Vote for Pedro t-shirts in 2004? This movie follows a geeky high schooler as he fights with his brother, tries to impress a girl, and attempts to get his best friend elected to student government with a choreographed dance. Truly iconic.

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Dazed and Confused

This stoner comedy follows a group of teenagers in Texas as they celebrate their last day of high school in 1976. Also, this movie is where Matthew McConaughey said his iconic catchphrase for the first time: "Alright, alright, alright."

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Jennifer's Body

Now that the Megan Foxissance is here, can we agree that this campy horror flick is actually a smart feminist classic?? Megan Fox plays Jennifer, a popular cheerleader who is "actually evil, not high-school evil" after a weird encounter. Her best friend Needy might be the only person who can stop her.

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A Walk to Remember

Get the tissues ready for this heartfelt drama about two teenagers from different social groups as they fall in love. Sounds pretty basic, until you add in the fact that she has leukemia that's not responding to treatment. Mandy Moore, why did you do this to me???

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Cruel Intentions

One of Reese Witherspoon's first big roles was in this movie about wealthy step-siblings at an elite prep school in New York City. They make a bet about the new girl at school, who just happens to be the headmaster's daughter.

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Plan B

If you liked Booksmart, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this movie about a high schooler who has sex for the first time. When she finds herself in need of a Plan B pill, she and her best friend go on quite an adventure trying to obtain one.

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Easy A

Scandal-less student Olive Penderghast sheds her nobody status after making up a story about losing her virginity, which spreads around school faster than the common cold. She uses her new-found cool-girl reputation to help other misfits by pretending to hook up with them. Oh, high school.

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Mean Girls

Lindsay Lohan plays the previously-homeschooled Cady Heron as she enters the political world of public high school and its complicated social scene for the first time. I'm guessing you don't need me to tell you this, but it's one of the most iconic movies in this genre, and it pretty much launched Rachel McAdams' career.

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Sixteen Candles

A timeless John Hughes classic starring both Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall. High school sophomore Sam thinks her 16th birthday is gonna be an epic new beginning to her high school life....but then her family completely forgets it's her special day. And her crush Jake Ryan still has no idea she exists!

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The Breakfast Club

Another John Hughes classic about five students from different high school groups who are forced together for one day while they serve detention. They start out thinking they have absolutely nothing in common but soon learn there's more to each of them than their stereotyped exterior.

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Grease

If you don't already know every single lyric to every single song that John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sing in this charming (but at times, pretttttty problematic) movie, you need to stream it right freaking now. Get ready for poodle skirts and big hair galore.

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Clueless

Even if you've seen this cult-favorite rom-com 75 times, the '90s fashion and the lingo will hook you over and over again.

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Princess Diaries

Having Julie Andrews show up and inform you that she's your grandmother and you're actually a princess in line to take over the throne of a small European country sounds like a dream come true—well, for everyone except Mia Thermopolis.

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The DUFF

The DUFF is short for the cringe-worthy "Designated Ugly Fat Friend," but don't let that scare you off. The movie is the closest thing the 2010s got to a Mean Girls successor, and Mae Whitman is incredible in the lead role.

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Hairspray

If every high school had a singing, dancing, coiffed-beyond-belief Zac Efron to gaze at longingly throughout all of class, attendance would be 100%.

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Lara Jean Covey writes letters to all the boys she's ever loved in her life and then stashes the notes away in her room. But when these letters somehow get mysteriously mailed to each of her intended recipients, Lara has to deal with the hot mess that is now her love life. (Psst! This is one of those YA movies that even YA haters can't help but love.)

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Wild Child

Spoiled L.A. teen Poppy gets sent to boarding school in England after her dad decides she's gotten too out of control. This movie is super cute and pretty funny, and if nothing else, watch it so you can hear Alex Pettyfer's dreamy British accent.

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Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging

Speaking of British movies, Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging captures exactly what it's like to be a teenage girl, down to the ever-changing friendship dynamics, insecurity, and desperate desire for the hot new older kid to notice you. By the way, this one's based on the 1999 book "Angus, Thongs, and Full-Front Snogging."

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Superbad

A little raunchier than your average high school movie, this Judd Apatow comedy will make you laugh out loud no matter how many times you've seen it. Two high school boys (Jonah Hill and Michael Cera) want to live it up before they go off to college, which means, in other words, they want to party their butts off and lose their virginities.

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10 Things I Hate About You

New kid Cameron can't get a date with hottie Bianca until her anti-social older sister, Kat, has a boyfriend. So what does Cameron do? Pays bad boy Patrick to try to charm Kat, duh. The cast on this one is the very definition of stacked: I'm talking Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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High School Musical

Yes, this is the Disney film that introduced Zac Efron and his luscious locks to the world. Don’t act like you don’t still fantasize about meeting your own Troy Bolton on a New Year's Eve vacation with your family. This film—about a high school full of unrealistically talented students—will forever be a fave.

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Drive Me Crazy

Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier become the unexpected high school “It” couple of the year, as Britney Spears’ greatest hit plays in the background. What more could you want?

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Dope

Dope got rave reviews for a reason: high school senior Malcolm struggles to find the balance between being a geek, trying to be cool, getting into Harvard, and impressing a girl by going to a party that almost ruins his life. (We’ve all been there.)

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John Tucker Must Die

Just four badass girls getting the ultimate revenge on a high school playboy. Watch solely for pleasure or for personal revenge inspo.

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Bring It On

This cheerleading classic follows national high school cheer champions the Toros after Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) finds out their winning routines have actually been stolen from other teams. Cue spirit fingers.

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Never Been Kissed

Drew Barrymore goes undercover as a high school student only to fall for her new English teacher. It’s got everything: '90s fashion, high school cliques, and, of course, the prom.

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Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Cameron Crowe wrote this movie based on his actual experiences going undercover as a high school student (he was 22 at the time).

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A Cinderella Story

Hilary Duff is fabulous as ever as the school nerd who falls in love with the football star (AKA Chad Michael Murray). You can find him on Riverdale reruns, by the way, if you've been missing him.

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She's All That

It doesn't get much more quintessentially '90s teen movie than She's All That, which took all of the high school rom-com tropes (jock guy! Artsy nerdy girl! Makeover scene! Inappropriately betting on fellow human beings! PROM!) into a blender and spit out (retrospectively problematic) gold.

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Love, Simon

This coming-of-age (and coming-out) movie is worth the tears. Seventeen-year-old Simon comes to terms with his sexuality while dealing with his family, friends, and the anonymous guy he fell in love with online.

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The Hate U Give

Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) for prez, please. After witnessing a close childhood friend get shot and killed by a police officer, Starr is forced to come to terms with how racial identity affects her community...and her relationships with the teens at her super white private school.

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The Edge of Seventeen

Hailee Steinfeld’s best friend starts dating her older brother (ugh), but don’t worry—Woody Harrelson is there to help her figure it all out.

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Election

Reese Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick, a slightly unethical high school student—who could be a young Madeline Mackenzie, TBH—running for class president. Oh, and she stages a war with her history teacher, played by Matthew Broderick. Good ol’ high school politics.

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The Spectacular Now

Another high school movie about the popular jock going for the "nerdy" girl. (Is this a real thing?) Regardless, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are still cuter than cute. We stan.

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Take the Lead

God, 2000s dance movies were SUCH a time. Antonio Banderas teaches "troubled" high school kids how to succeed at ballroom dancing and so, so much more.

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Heathers

Winona Ryder plays a bad-girl-gone-good who leaves her clique of ladies literally all named Heather, and tries to stop her boyfriend from full-on MURDERING people at their high school. It’s hilariously dark, but that’s kind of the point.

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Can’t Hardly Wait

A classic story about high school seniors throwing an infamous last-day-of-school banger before going off to college. Think American Pie...but less creepy.

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Booksmart

Yet another end-of-high-school-extravaganza film, Booksmart is Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut about two academics who try to make the most of their last night before graduation.

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Lady Bird

Yes, that movie everyone’s been talking about ever since it came out in 2017. It's Greta Gerwig's directorial debut and stars not only Saoirse Ronan but also Timothée Chalamat *and* Lucas Hedges. If you haven’t seen Lady Bird yet, honestly, IDK what you’ve been doing.

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Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

In the age before Facebook ruined things, best friends and former high school "losers" Romy and Michele (Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow) attend their high school reunion ready to impress with bold-faced lies like "we invented Post-It Notes."

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Hoop Dreams

This 1994 documentary (yes, documentary) followed two teens from predominantly Black neighborhoods in Chicago who dreamed of becoming professional basketball players in the NBA. In pursuit of that dream, the boys, William Gates and Arthur Agee, commuted 90-minutes each way to Westchester, Illinois to attend a predominantly white high school with an acclaimed basketball program.

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Varsity Blues

Before there was Friday Night Lights, there was Varsity Blues, the James Van Der Beek football movie best known for Ali Larter's iconic whipped cream bikini.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tom Holland makes "awkward charm" look like a superpower as Peter Parker, and we can all just choose to believe we looked as adorable in our awkward high school moments as he does in pretty much every non-CGI moment of Homecoming.

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Charlie Bartlett

This under-the-radar teen movie follows Charlie Bartlett, a teen who struggles to fit in at his new high school—until he decides to become the school's unofficial psychiatrist.

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The Fault in Our Stars

Everyone's high school experience feels tragic from time to time—which is why it's good to watch movies like The Fault in Our Stars to put things in perspective.

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Dangerous Minds

"Creative/unconventional-but-determined teacher inspires underprivileged teens" is basically a sub-genre of high school movies, and 1995's Dangerous Minds (which stars Michelle Pfeiffer as said unconventional-but-determined teacher) is a classic if that kind of story hits your feels in a good way.

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