Which coming-of-age movie holds the throne?

Devon Greene, editor-in-chief

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First, let’s define coming-of-age. My preferred definition comes from the Cambridge dictionary, which defines it as the time when someone matures emotionally, or in some other way.

One of the most iconic coming of age movies of our generation is “Superbad.” “Superbad“ came out in 2007 and instantly captured the eye of high school students across the nation. Over the hour and 53 minute runtime, Seth (portrayed by Jonah Hill), Evan (portrayed by Michael Cera) and Fogell (portrayed by Chirstopher Mintz- Plasse) captivated audiences with their awkward interactions and nerdy tendencies. “Superbad” has become one of the most quotable movies for an entire generation of young adults as they can recite the script almost line for line. The scene that sticks out most in my memory, and I’m sure many others, is the McLovin scene where Fogell is trying to use his fake ID to buy alcohol. Even though this is probably the favorite comedy of many people in my age group, this isn’t my pick for the best coming-of-age movie. In fact, my pick just came out this year and I have been completely enthralled with it since it was released.

“Booksmart” was released this May to widespread applause from critics across the nation. It currently holds a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes compared to Superbad’s 87 percent. “Booksmart” was the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde and she completely knocked it out of the park. The film feels fresh in a sub-genre that is difficult to come up with original ideas and hits the mark on just about everything it is trying to do. It is about two lifelong friends who have been working very hard to get into prestigious colleges so they missed out on all the partying in high school. However, one of the lead characters, Molly (portrayed by Beanie Feldstein, who just happens to be Hill’s sister) finds out that all the students who have been partying have gotten into prestigious colleges as well. Molly and Amy (portrayed by Kaitlyn Dever) then decide to go out and attend the final party of their high school careers before they graduate. From there on, it’s pretty similar to “Superbad.” Molly and Amy get into weird interactions on their way to get to a party. Where I think this movie excels past “Superbad” is it’s more serious, emotional storyline. Multiple characters in this movie find out who they are and who they want to be and we see it before our very eyes. Also, the soundtrack and the cinematography is absolutely outstanding. The scene where Amy hops in the pool with “Slip Away” by Perfume Genius playing is captivating and perfect. I can talk about what makes “Booksmart” great all day, but I think it’s probably time to talk about “Lady Bird.”

“Lady Bird” was released in 2017 and is also a very highly acclaimed film as it holds a 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. This is a shift in the tone compared to the first two films. “Lady Bird” is a far more serious and realistic coming-of-age movie where Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (portrayed by Saoirse Ronan) feuds with her mother as she finds herself and tries to separate herself from her status as a person who lives on “the wrong side of the tracks.” This film’s claim to fame is the actors in it. Ronan puts together one of the greatest performances in recent memory as she consistently tugs on the viewers’ heart strings. A scene that first comes to mind is when Lady Bird is trying on a dress for her school dance and she asks her mother if she likes her and doesn’t receive the answer she expects. That scene is great, but the one that will live on forever is the “give me a number” scene where the conflict between Lady Bird and her mother comes to a head. Ronan and Laurie Metcalf put together a three minute stretch that made me forget to breathe while simultaneously making me weep profusely.

The last one that I really want to take a deep dive into is 2016’s “Moonlight.” “Moonlight” currently holds a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and pulled off what many thought was impossible at the Academy Awards. “Moonlight” won three Oscars at the 89th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (won by Mahershala Ali). What was so shocking about Moonlight’s win was the fact that we had never seen a movie like this win such important awards before. “Moonlight” is about a young black man and his life while trying to figure out his identity and sexuality. Just a year before, the Oscars were the subject of a campaign titled “#OscarSoWhite” and with one of the most popular films of the year La La Land ripe for the picking, it seemed like a movie with a black, gay character as the lead had no chance at winning. But then it did. I cannot relate to this movie directly, but I can see its importance to the LGBTQ+ community and the black community. This film showed that anything is possible at the Oscars and showed that representation in film is being appreciated. As far as the coming-of-age story goes, I think it was relatable to many in the LGBTQ+ and black community and it deserves all the accolades it received.

Other brilliant coming-of-age movies that I’d feel sick leaving off are “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Stand By Me” and “IT.” There are plenty that I’ve left off, but it’s obvious to me that “Booksmart” stands above the rest and nobody can convince me otherwise.

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