Graduation is on the horizon. I know that’s hard to take in, that you assumed college would never end and your entire life would be eating cafeteria food and playing Edward 40-Hands with your friends on Twin-XL mattresses. But finals will happen, you will graduate, and then you will be not-so-gently pushed into the cold night to fend for yourself or move back in with your parents. I’ve compiled some nostalgic movies of college and high school graduates so you can hold on for as long as humanly possible.
1. Legally Blonde
Of course, Elle Woods is the first person I thought of when I found out I was writing this. This movie is iconic for all the right reasons, but nothing was more satisfying than seeing Reese Witherspoon deliver the valedictorian speech at the end of the movie.
2. She’s All That
Was seeing Freddie Prinze Jr. in this movie the moment I knew I was gay? Or was that him in “I Know What You Did Last Summer”? Unclear. This movie is stupid and dated but I love it more as a time capsule to what teen movies were like in the late 90’s.
3. The To-Do List
Aubrey Plaza is a goddess. She’s one of if not THE funniest actress of our generation. R-Rated Teen movies about losing your virginity before college normally bore me to tears. But this one is different and features a killer supporting cast that made me love the movie even more.
4. Dazed and Confused
I know this is a “Last day of High School” movie but I feel like the movie works well here as a kind of marker of the end of one era, and on the cusp of something brand new and different, which is what you may be going through. Plus seeing young Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, and Milla Jovovich at the start of their respective careers is pretty cool.
5. The Graduate
This is the oldest movie on this list, but one of the best. This 1967 movie about a recent college grad who comes home and finds himself torn between a married family friend and her daughter. It’s a great old movie that has held up well in the 50 years since it was first released.
6. The Devil Wears Prada
Full Disclosure: I watch this movie A LOT. Like, every time it’s on TV. It’s comfort food for my post-grad soul. Anne Hathaway is a naive and poorly dressed journalism grad who manages to get a job as the assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep, of course), the ruthless editor-in-chief of a high-fashion magazine. The costumes are INSANE and Emily Blunt steals the movie as Miranda’s other assistant.
Another iconic late 2000’s movie, this one rocketing Jonah Hill, Emma Stone and Christopher Mintz-Plasse out of obscurity and into stardom, whether you appreciate that or not. Two best friends (Jonah Hill and Michael Cera) plan a huge booze-fueled party for one of their last nights before graduation. I saw this movie in theaters right after turning 17 and we didn’t stop quoting it for years.
Recent high school graduate Scotty finds out that his girlfriend cheated on him, and decides to backpack through Europe to find the girl that he could’ve been with this whole time. This is another movie I still find myself referencing. It works that thin line of being too stupid and too funny, in the same vein of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle and well worth the hour and a half run time.
9. Tiny Furniture
Consider this the prequel to HBO's Girls. SXSW Film Festival winning Tiny Furniture is Lena Dunham's first effort and sets the stage for the "Voice of a Generation" we've all come to know and love. Much like Girls, it is both hilarious and endearing and explores the depths of romantic humiliation and the heights of post-college confusion. Sorry, Grads. It gets worse before it gets better.
10. The Perks of Being A Wallflower
The final movie on this list is a bit of a reach. The male lead (played by Logan Lerman) is a freshman in high school at the time, with the major supporting characters (Emma Watson fresh off Harry Potter and Ezra Miller) playing seniors about to graduate. But it’s a beautiful movie about mental illness and coming out of your shell, and it does feature a graduation sequence, so I’m counting it.
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