Sometimes you just want to regress back to high school where the drama is intense, but the stakes are often lower than they are in the adult world. Thank god for teen movies, then. The teen movie has become a genre unto itself, and we've searched through Amazon Prime to find the best offerings on that streaming service. There's a nice mix of everything from dumb comedies to intense tearjerkers. Start streaming.
Maybe An Education isn't your typical "teen movie," but it's a movie about being a teen, which is maybe even better. In Carey Mulligan's breakout role she plays Jenny, an impressionable and ambitious young girl who is swept up into a glamorous world when she's courted by an older man, played by Peter Sarsgaard. Director Lone Scherfig captures the allure of this mysterious world that entrances Jenny before she pulls away the curtain to reveal the seedy reality of a grown man preying on a teen and the emotional trauma that comes with that.
Yes, Election is a movie about high school, but it's also probably one of the best movies ever about American politics. Alexander Payne's masterpiece based on the Tom Perrotta novels centers on a vicious race for student body president, featuring Reese Witherspoon in a career-defining role as overachiever Tracy Flick. As much about teen angst as it is about the ways in which the threat of a powerful woman drives men of all ages mad, Election remains ever relevant more than two decades later
New World Pictures
The darkest of dark teen comedies is a cult classic for a reason. Winona Ryder plays Veronica Sawyer, a quasi member of her high school's most feared clique, the Heathers, who rule with nastiness. When Veronica meets the new student, the alluring bad boy J.D. (Christian Slater), well, to paraphrase Daniel Waters' endlessly quotable script: Her teen angst starts developing a body count. Heathers is meaner than most teen movies, and it benefits from how ruthless it is. Ultimately, it's the story of a girl learning to stand on her own, but the gruesome ride is what gets her there.
The House Bunny (2008)
Technically, The House Bunny takes place in college, but it has the energy of a teen flick. Anna Faris proves why she should have been a bigger movie star as Shelley Darlingson, a Playboy Bunny who gets kicked out of the Mansion when she turns 30. Desperate for another community, she stumbles into a sorority house full of misfits. The joy of The House Bunny is largely in Faris' delightful performance, which combines practiced ditz with weirdo energy.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is a teen movie in a time capsule. It's a high school romance by way of the mid-aughts New York indie rock scene, but don't let the nostalgia fool you. The movie, directed by Peter Sollett with a screenplay from Hustlers director Lorene Scafaria, is still extremely charming, thanks to the off-the-walls chemistry between Kat Dennings and Michael Cera. It also remains extremely funny all the way through, mostly because of the breakout performance from Ari Graynor as Norah's very drunk friend.
Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
When it comes to parody movies, Not Another Teen Movie is not at the Scary Movie levels of excellence, but it's better than most, largely thanks to its great cast, including a pre-Captain America Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, and Ron Lester essentially reprising his role from Varsity Blues to... make fun of Varsity Blues. Evans really is the all-star here as the smarmy jock, and it's the gender-flipped whipped cream sequence that will keep you rewatching again and again.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
Desiree Akhavan uses understated direction to adapt Emily M. Danforth's novel about a teen in the 1990s, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, who is sent to a gay conversion facility after being caught having sex with another girl. Akhavan doesn't shy away from the horrors of her setting, but she is more interested in the bonds formed between the queer kids at the center of her story than the evil surrounding them. It's both an indictment of religious fundamentalism and a celebration of the connections that can arise in extreme circumstances.
Selah and the Spades (2019)
Tayarisha Poe's incredibly stylish directorial debut is a heightened look at a high school hierarchy. In her fictional boarding school, the halls are ruled by factions of the student body. The titular Selah runs the Spades, who are like drug dealers but more elite. Lovie Simone is captivating as Selah, who is worried about who is going to take over once she graduates, all the while dealing with encroaching animosity from the other leaders. It's got an eerie sensibility that echoes The Secret History, but with the highly welcome appearance of a young Black girl at its center.