The Best Teen Movies from the 90s and 2000s

 

 

If you were born between the years of 1995 and 2001, you’re probably aware of the cinematic gold that came out that era in the form of teen movies. Truly, the 90s and early 2000s were instrumental in defining what it meant to be a teenager at the time. Teen movies totally glamorized puberty and high school. We all aspired to have Regina George’s hair, and Isis’ choreographic techniques, and they were pretty innovative at the time, in terms of social relations. So let me give you all the nostalgia and education, with my ultimate 90s and 2000s teen movie watchlist.

Aquamarine

Remember that mermaid movie with Emma Roberts, Jojo and Sara Paxton? Aquamarine was the bubbly summer rom com that made us all want stick on starfish earrings and find a sweet guy like Raymond. But aside from that, it also demonstrated the importance of female friendship. Sure it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test — after all, the major plot was Aquamarine trying to win over Raymond — however, it was one of the few teen movies where the girl didn’t end up with the guy, as both Raymond and Aqua recognize that they should get to know each other more.

Bring It On

I never wanted to join my high school cheerleading squad until watching this movie. Bring It On was one of the most nuanced movies to come out in the 2000s. Not only was it a bad-ass film about girls working as a team, but it also demonstrated racial tension and competition in a very human way. It talked about bigger issues than boys and lip gloss; it talked about white women taking dance moves from black women and calling it their own. Thankfully, we see that behaviour being unlearned as Torrance reestablishes the Toros, and truly brings it to the cheer competition. Overall, what Bring It On depicted was far more unique than pitting women against each other. The appreciation and admiration that Isis and Torrance have for one another as competitors set an important tone for teen movies.

Mean Girls

I mean, duh. Despite this film debuting in 2004, it has withstood the test of time. The quotable nature of Mean Girls alone is enough to cement this as the quintessential teen movie, and still manages to be relevant with today's audience.

She's The Man

Perhaps the most unique romcom on this list, Amanda Bynes showed off her acting chops by playing her character Violet, and posing as her twin brother Sebastian to join the guys soccer team, and prove her misogynistic ex-boyfriend wrong. Of course things don't go exactly as planned, and hilarity ensues, but what's really unique about this movie is their exploration of gender identity and commentary of the sexes. When Viola takes on Sebastian’s persona she’s finally able to act like herself without being criticized for being “too masculine.”By presenting as a man, Viola ultimately gives herself the duality she desired, and is free from the patriarchal standards she was being oppressed by. Plus, she proves that she can play soccer just as well as an guy. Also, we stan Channing Tatum’s rejection of toxic masculinity. Who would've thought tampons would make great plugs for nosebleed?

Twilight

Before you say anything, watch this wine drunk with your friends at 1 a.m. from a satirical lense, and appreciate Kristen Stewart for giving an amazing performance with the hot garbage script they handed her. I’m not going to try and defend Twilight; it’s not a feminist masterpiece by any means. However, it ushered in the teenage film to book adaptation phenomenon that devoured the later half of the 2000s, and that’s pretty monumental in my books.

The Princess Diaries

Anne Hathaway? Check! Living in a firehouse with her artist mother? Check! Finds out she's a princess? Check! Julie Andrews is her grandmother, AND the queen? CHECK! If you didn't love this movie you're lying. In an ode to all the nerdy girls, The Princess Diaries showed us that anyone can be a princess, and while a makeover is fun, Mia is memorable for her being genuine and kind, rather than being reduced to her appearance. Mia was unapologetically herself, regardless of what her peers thought of her; she was always a gem, the Queen just polished her up.

And there you have it, my ultimate 90s and 2000s teen movie watchlist