Best coming-of-age movies for women, ranked

The coming-of-age film is a classic genre in the world of cinema, except for one glaring problem: the male gaze. In 2021, of the 51 highest-grossing films released that year, only seven of the films were directed by women, and of this group, only three of the women were of color (Chloe Zhao, Liesl Tommy and Nia DaCosta). Due to the lack of women involved in the artistic and technical processes of creating a film, the script and the story are filtered through the lens through which men view youth. This has led to unrealistic portrayals of what it means to grow up as a young woman and a dissociation of how girls view themselves from on-screen characters.

Coming-of-age films relied on sexist portrayals of girls, but a new wave of filmmaking – often led by directors, producers and writers who are women – has struggled with the notions created by their predecessors. This is, however, with criticism. Directors like Sofia Coppola, known for working with very feminine styles, have been criticized for being supposedly superficial. This critique in itself may be rooted in sexism. Regardless, progress has been made in accurately depicting women’s coming-of-age stories. These are the best coming of age movies ranked.

Related: 5 Iconic Films You Didn’t Know Were Written By Women

8 Thirteen

Two girls stand close to each other;  they are teenagers.
Fox projector pictures

To come up dusk director Catherine Hardwicke made her directorial debut Thirteen in 2003, with Holly Hunter, Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed. Thirteen-year-old Tacy (Wood) is the daughter of a divorced alcoholic (Hunter) and juggles her perfect image with the life she leads at home. She befriends Evie (Reed), a popular girl at her school who encourages Tracy to adopt dangerous and reckless new habits. As their escapades escalate and reach a new level, it leads to devastating decisions.

7 Premature

The man leans on the girl's shoulder as he sits in the New York subway.
IFC Films

Premature is a hidden gem, a film that was buried under the blockbusters of 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ayanna (Zora Howard) is a 17 year old girl from Harlem. During summer vacation, she meets an older man named Isaiah (Joshua Boone), a record producer, and there’s instant chemistry between the two of them. Ayanna dreams of becoming a writer and going to college, but as she begins a romance with Isaiah, those hopes and relationships begin to fluctuate. Between adulthood and childhood, Ayanna’s struggle is common, especially as a young black woman.

6 virgins who committed suicide

Paramount Pictures

Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut dates back to 1999 with virgins who committed suicide, an adaptation of the literary novel of the same name. It centers on the Lisbon sisters, five young women who live in suburban Detroit with religious and strict parents who forbid them to live like their classmates. Neighborhood boys romance and sexualize girls, creating fantasies with their mysterious, off-limits appeal, but at the same time, these sisters just want to be like other girls. While the cast is star-studded, it establishes the working relationship between Coppola and actor Kristen Dunst.

5 Youth

Four girls stand arm in arm under blue lighting.

French movie Youth was directed and written by Céline Sciamma, who would later direct the film Portrait of a lady on fire. This film stars actress Karidja Touré as Marieme, a 16-year-old Franco-African teenager living in the suburbs of Paris. Her neighborhood is poor and her mother works long hours, leaving Marieme to struggle at school and at home. This leads him to befriend a group of girls who encourage him to steal, fight, and live a life filled with drugs, dancing, and booze. Youth is the story of a young woman who reclaims a future she never suspected, even if it means turning her back on what she already knows.

4 The edge of seventeen

The girl is sitting slumped at the desk.
Sony Pictures International

Before taking on the role of Kate Bishop in Hawk Eyeone of Hailee Steinfeld’s best roles was in The edge of seventeen. She plays Nadine, a 17-year-old girl who feels estranged from her family, especially her brother, after her father’s sudden death. After discovering her best friend in bed with her brother, Nadine begins to spiral and lead a classmate (Hayden Szeto) who has a desperate crush on her. a dramatic comedy, The edge of seventeen offers a sincere and relevant view of growth and loss.

Related: Best Film Adaptations Of Books Written By Women

3 Hummingbird House

The teacher is sitting as she watches her student drinking tea.

epiphany movies

that of Kim Bora Hummingbird House may have a very Korean background, but its general themes touch on a comprehensive understanding of coming of age. It’s 1994 and the main character, Eun-hee, lives in Seoul with her family. She has a secret boyfriend, enjoys spending time with her best friend, and has after-school tutoring sessions in Mandarin Chinese. But at the same time, she faces the difficulty of growing up: a tragedy strikes, her health deteriorates, friendly and romantic breakups are looming on the horizon.

2 The diary of a teenager

The girl is sitting between two adults, they are all sitting in front of bright floral wallpaper.
Sony Pictures Classics

2015 The diary of a teenager was based on a graphic novel, which, in turn, was based on the author’s own life. And therein lies perhaps the charm of this film: it refuses to pass judgment on the main character, 15-year-old Minnie (Bel Powley). Minnie has decided that she wants to find out about her sexuality before it’s too late, and so she becomes sexually active. She sleeps with her mother’s boyfriend, which leads to a rabbit hole that forces Minnie to grow up and contemplate what will make her truly happy.

1 lady bird

Girl and boy are holding hands in front of a blue American style house.

lady bird, directed by Greta Gerwig, has become an icon of the coming-of-age story of women in film. Christine or Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) wants to escape the boring city of Sacramento for the East Coast, where she thinks the culture will be. She rebels against her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and the rules imposed on her by the Catholic school she attends, and, at the same time, dives into two romances with a theater geek (Lucas Hedges) and a bad boy. who pretends to read philosophy. (Timothee Chalamet). lady bird is a tender story that offers so much love and devotion to its female characters.

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