Top Ten High School Films

With 21 Jump Street hitting theatres this weekend I felt like taking a look back at some of my favourite High School themed films.

Now this is a massive genre of cinema and a lot of films which are amazing which didn’t make it into my list for no reason other than these are very personal choices. Feel free to throw out the ones I missed we can talk about them in the comments and have some fun (in other words, let’s not get nasty about omissions). So here we go:

10. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) (dir. Gil Junger)

…or what I like to call; when High School met Shakespeare. I’m not a William Shakespeare fan. As the complete opposite of a literary geek I quite loathed anything by the great writer. So when this movie came out and it got me to see that he really does make good stories, when you get a chance to sift through all the outdated English, then it stuck with me. I know that this movie barely rises a level above much other romantic comedies, but somehow it worked in a way that makes me remember it well and assure that I have to spend most of my next ninety minutes or so everytime I accidentally see it on TV.

9. Juno (2007) (dir. Jason Reitman)

…or what I like to call: when High School students were just a little too sarcastic for me not to love them. This film is one that I guess hasn’t aged well. It’s the first of the films where I noticed the trend of it being cool to praise it while no one else had seen it, and then the moment it hit a yet to be defined level of popular then it became about exploding flaws way out of proportion and just hating it. Sadly though I never got to the stage of hate and I still do enjoy every unbelievably  moment of this girl being way too smart for her age (or good).

8. Scream (1996) (dir. Wes Craven)

…or what I like to call: when High School decided to go psychotic. I fell in love with this film instantly. It was the first movie that I got the idea of being self referential and how a movie can be a entry while winking at the traps of said genre and still be fantastic. And it has one of the best opening scenes of all time.

7. Back to the Future (1985) (dir. Robert Zemeckis)

…or what I like to call: teenagers are timeless. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the time travel to forget that it’s all about a teenage geek getting to hook up with the hottie across the way. The only catch is that McFly/Calvin Klein is really doing it to make sure his mom and dad get together and he doesn’t create a time paradox.

6. To Sir, With Love (1967) (dir. James Clavell)

…or what I like to call: a teacher making a difference. Sidney Poitier is the man who’s held a camera so focused that it has scientifically proven to require lens changes every minute. I love this movie for so many reasons, but the highest of them all is that Poitier is so fantastic as that inspirational teacher that we love to applaud when we do get them in movies.

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  • Jenny B

    It’s great to see ‘Election’ on your list.  ‘Heathers’ is a great high school satire.

  • Andrew Robinson

     Heathers is actually one I’ve yet to see and have been meaning to watch recently… sad.

  • Steven Flores

    For me, it’s Brick and Rushmore.  The former for its dark, noir film where I had a moment of elation when JGG beat up the jock kid.  That scene is for every misfit who felt out of place in school and always hated the popular kids. 

  • Andrew Robinson

    ohhh… I so loved that scene. But for me the scene I love most has to be when he’s propositioning the Pin with his services. The dialogue (for most of the movie) just rings an awesome bell for me.

  • Simon Phillip Brown

    Scream over Superbad -_-

  • Andrew Robinson

    In their own genres they defeat each other, but I at the end of the day will always choose to watch Scream over Superbad 90% of the time.

  • Dan

    Great list. One of my all time favourites remains The Breakfast Club so I think it would have to top my list. I also love Dazed and Confused.

  • Tucker

    “Election” was the BOMB! Made me laugh hard! Election reminded me of just how much importance is placed on high school life by “certain” people.

    I wish I could simply relegate the importance placed upon high school life as “stupid”, but at this moment, I just won’t.

    It’s just 5 – 7 years for most people, but when you are a kid, you think:
    1) It is ALL your life is ever going to be!
    2) These are the only years that will EVER matter.3) ANY failure here will haunt you for the rest of your life.4) You can choose to shine brightly, or DIE!! Election brilliantly disclosed the shallow, fearful, overreacting, rebellious nature of most teenagers lives in a very comedic light. I guess high school is a time when people’s personalities and emotions are still in a high state of flux, and this is why it makes those times important. 

  • Will Malone

    An interesting list with a couple of surprises, most notably from Grease and Scream, which I don’t think I really considered High School films before.  For me I probably would have found room for Risky Business, Ferris Buellers Day Off and/or Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but then again you can’t have the whole list dominated by the 80s.

    Now that you have seen Heathers, would it make the list?