A List of the Best Coming of Age Films You MUST Watch

2017 was a year of coming-of-age films. After Moonlight won last years Academy Award for Best Picture, two critically-acclaimed films Lady Bird and Call Me by Your Name are widely loved by audiences all over the world and have received numerous awards and nominations during the award season. If I were to make a list of my favorite films of 2017, Im pretty sure that both of them are going to make it into the top 3 (btw, the third one would be Coco, I think). Dont know why, but Ive watched a lot of coming-of-age movies in recent years and found many of them relatable and touching, in a very personal way. So, I really want to share with you my thoughts on this type of films and some of the films that I like.


The genre of coming-of-age usually tells the stories of people maturing from adolescence to adulthood and having experiences that teach them important life lessons. Us college students are on the cusp of adulthood. We leave home for our dreams, for work and college. We are trying to be ready to step into society and become responsible adults, but at the same time we often question ourselves with our uncertainties over feelings, identities, the future etc. Being someone who has just turned 20, I love how I am able to see myself in these coming-of-age films and that they make me look back on what Ive been through over my teenage years that were not so long ago but seem a million light-years away.


Perhaps deep down, we are all looking for ourselves in films we watch, especially as college students watching coming-of age films. Sometimes how much we like a certain film depends not entirely on its subjective quality but more importantly on how well it reflects the lives and experiences of our own. However, it is the reminiscence that makes the coming-of-age films so intriguing and moving.


Call Me by Your Name is no doubt my favorite film of 2017. I havent been feeling so strongly about one particular film for a long while but this one just came in and took my breath away. It is about love, first love and pure love. It is so beautifully made that every frame is simply a piece of art on its own. It is a stunning work in all standards: the cinemagraphy and screenplay are amazing, the scores are as beautiful and heartbreaking as they can be, and the performance of Timothee Chalamat is phenomenal. It is a film that can make you feel. It reminds you of the tenderness and desire as well as the pain and sorrow when you opened your heart to someone else for the first time, the experience that changes your life and perception of love forever.

I am especially impressed by the universality of the emotions of love and being loved that Call Me by Your Name is able to deliver. Many of my friends of different genders, sexual orientations and cultural backgrounds have watched this film and for some reasons we all end up being deeply moved by it. The monologue of the protagonists father by the end is really the climax of the film and the grow up point in my opinion:

“…if there is a pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, dont be brutal with it. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new.

Lady Bird is another stunning coming-of-age film in 2017. It is just so much like myself. All those arguments with parents, college applications, teenage rebellion, wishes of leaving home as soon as possible, dramas between friends, people whom you shouldve not fallen forDont they all sound amazingly familiar? I guess Lady Bird is not the life of Christine Lady Bird alone, it is also the director Greta Gerwigs, mine and ours. Being far away from home and parents during most time of the year really puts me in a good position of watching this film. Too often we only realize that we should cherish something or some period in life when we don't have them anymore.

Boyhood is perhaps the most special film Ive ever seen, yes I said the most. The director Richard Linklater made the entire 2-hour film in a 12-year span. He followed the lives of the actors and actresses, watching them grow up or grow old and developing the story around them. Watching Boyhood is not like watching a film but like watching the lives of the real people. There isn't a typical storyline in the film, only time and authenticity. This film is not as dramatic as the previous two and is kind of slow in pace, but when you watch to the end you would shocked by the power of time. It is time that makes you grow, grants you strength, and yet takes things away from you at the same time.

Cinema Paradiso and Dead Poets Society are what brought me into this genre in the first place. Guess most of us have seen these classics at some point growing up with family or at school and thats exactly what happened to me. I remember having these films played on our classrooms big screen during lunch break in middle school and high school (guess teachers dont know Cinema Paradiso is actually R-rated). Its a little exaggerated to say that they changed my visions for the future as a teenager but they definitely influenced me to think more about the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. These classics are so timeless that now, years after I first watched them, Im still able to find the passion and longs every time I go back to them and Im sure they will continue to inspire generations and generations of people.

(btw, take some time to appreciate the young Ethan Hawke before he grows into the father in Boyhood)