Top 10 Coming of Age Movies of the 90s

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The coming-of-age genre is loaded with some of cinema’s best feature films. By Mike Nichol The graduation (1967) and Rob Reiner support me (1986), to Richard Linklater Childhood (2014) and Greta Gerwig lady bird (2017), there’s nothing like seeing characters grow within themselves as they explore the trials and tribulations of adolescence.



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The 1990s came alive with several coming-of-age classics. These films conveyed the coming-of-age experience through unique, original, and singular lenses, and allowed audiences to reflect on their own periods of transition. They possess the power to elicit an emotional reaction from the viewer, resonating with both nostalgic adults and young teenagers experiencing what is playing out on screen.

ten The Sandlot (1993) succeeds with humor and heart

Co-written, directed and narrated by David Mickey Evans, The Sandlot follows the story of a group of young baseball players in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California during the summer of 1962.

Using effective editing and dialogue appropriate for young people, The Sandlot succeeds with sincere humor and heart. The film captures a teenage adventure with a heartfelt sense of innocence and nostalgia to offer an uncynicistic look at the joys of childhood. For kids of the 1990s, there’s no better baseball movie.

9 October Sky (1999) is sweet and sentimental

Based on the memoirs of Homer H. Hickam Jr., October sky is directed by Joe Johnston and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern and Chris Owen. The film follows the true story of Homer (Gyllenhaal) who, after being inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, embarked on rocketry against his father’s wishes.

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October sky is a clever and inspiring coming-of-age tale. The film is imbued with a genuine respect for the value of learning – which can serve as a passport to freedom. Director Joe Johnston crafts a feel-good movie that doesn’t pander to cheap emotion, and in doing so draws several incredible performances from its main cast.

8 What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) examines altruism

Directed by Lasse Hallström, What eats Gilbert Grapefollows the story of Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp), who takes care of his obese mother (Darlene Cates) and younger brother (Leonardo DiCaprio).

What eats Gilbert Raisin portrays the lives of marginalized characters with a level of reality and authenticity. DiCaprio’s performance is huge and truly amazing, with equally enigmatic work from Depp. Director Hallström balances a bittersweet tone in the story of a dysfunctional family tale, suggesting that the real heroes in life are those who care for others with tenacity, determination and, above all, love.

seven Clueless (1995) is gently satirical and hysterical

Written and directed by Amy Heckerling, clueless is loosely based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma, suited to the modern setting of Beverly Hills. Starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy and Paul Rudd, the film follows Cher Horowitz (Silverstone), a popular high school girl who befriends a new student (Murphy) and decides to give her a makeover.

clueless effectively converts a tale of meaningless, overindulgent teenagers into a light-hearted comedy of morals and manners. Amy Heckerling navigates high school life in the ’90s with a keen eye – littered with cellphones, baggy pants and nose bandages. His attentive ear to the language of adolescents makes it a film that is as amusing as it is rich and affectionate.

6 Boyz N The Hood (1991) surrounds itself with sincerity

Written and directed by John Singleton in his feature debut, Boyz in the hood follows the life of Tre Styles, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., who is sent to live with his father (Laurence Fishburne) in South Central Los Angeles. Surrounded by the neighborhood’s burgeoning gang culture, Tre and his friends (played by Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut) are drawn into a life of crime with increasingly tragic results.

Well played, well written and well directed, Boyz N the Hood serves as a thematically rich observation of African-American culture with far more depth and compassion than many of its like-minded predecessors. The dialogue is hilarious, the story is framed as a morality tale – which is never anything short of absorbing – and the supporting characters provide much-needed power to the film’s lasting legacy.

5 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) Reworks Shakespeare

Directed by Gil Junger, 10 things i hate about you modernizes William Shakespeare’s 16th century comedy The Taming of the Shrewtold in a high school setting of the late 90s. Starring Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Larisa Oleynik, the film follows Kat Stratford (Stiles), an abrasive teenager who attracts the attention of the “bad- boy” Patrick (Ledger).

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10 things i hate about you perfectly captures a moment of teenage drama, fear and exploration. Using a surprisingly clever script, the film is enhanced by strong performances from an ensemble cast; Stiles is a good match for Ledger, who is both endearing and charming as Patrick.

4 The Virgin Suicides (1999) paints a portrait of femininity

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola in her directorial debut, virgins who committed suicide is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Jeffrey Eugenides. The film follows the lives of five teenage sisters living in an upper-middle-class suburb of Detroit in the mid-1970s.

virgins who committed suicide plays like a mature meditation on disaffected youth, wandering through its 97-minute runtime with dreamlike melancholy. Sofia Coppola directs with disarming poetic charm, making a curious and eclectic film that glimpses the troubled unknown of adolescence.

3 Rushmore (1998) is gloriously inventive

Directed and co-written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, Rushmore follows the life of an eccentric teenager (played by Jason Schwartzman in his on-screen debut), whose crush on an elementary school teacher is shared by his friendship with a wealthy industrialist (played by Bill Murray).

There is an unshakeable trust in Rushmore that gives off more than just a series of high-quality laughs; it’s a finely judged, well-executed, and amazingly directed parable that sits on the line between reality and self-delusion. Wes Anderson’s style is inimitable and incredibly charming. Nothing about his movie begs to be liked – which makes it all the more rewarding and satisfying to watch.

2 Good Will Hunting (1997) is quietly devastating

Written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and directed by Gus Van Sant, Goodwill hunting follows the story of 20-year-old janitor Will Hunting (Damon), who becomes a patient of Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), under a deferred prosecution agreement after assaulting a police officer. The film also features supporting performances from Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Stellan Skarsgård.

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Loaded with powerful performance, Goodwill hunting amounts to a deeply spiritual, inspiring, and quietly devastating drama about the life of a troubled working-class child. Not only is the film well crafted with psychological symmetries, but it also allegorizes the messiness of humanity and in doing so captures the limitless possibilities of youth. Matt Damon delivers a breakthrough performance as Will Hunting, opposite Robin Williams’ Oscar-winning turn as Sean Maguire.

1 Dazed And Confused (1993) is a shameless masterpiece

Written and directed by Richard Linklater, Dazed and confused features a cast of actors led by Jason London, with supporting performances from Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Matthew McConaughey, Renée Zellweger and Rory Cochrane. Set in the mid-1970s, the film follows different groups of teenagers during their final days of high school in Texas.

With a killer soundtrack and an accurate 1970s feel, Dazed and confused plays like a slice-of-life flashback, with wonderfully realized characters that are utterly believable. Richard Linklater stages a rich reconstruction of high school life, relying on nostalgia without getting lost in it. The film encompasses the essence and tone of an era by transcending common clichés to become a spiritual and cinematic entity. Dazed and confused is a true masterpiece and one of the greatest coming-of-age films ever made.

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