Graduation season is upon us, with high school and college students ending their senior year and ready to make their mark in the real world. All the hard work has paid off, and this is their last hurrah before entering college or starting their career. But before the graduation ceremonies begin, take some time to watch some of the best coming-of-age movies of 2023. Check out this list of 20+ of the best graduation movies in 2023 to celebrate high school graduation (or college).
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Best Graduation Movies 2023
Legally Blonde (2001)
Plot: Elle Woods has it all. She wants nothing more than to be Mrs. Warner Huntington III. But there is one thing stopping him from proposing: She is too blond. Elle rallies all of her resources and gets into Harvard Law School, determined to win him back.
Star Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Davis
The Graduate (1967)
Plot: Benjamin Braddock has just finished college and, back at his parents’ house, he’s trying to avoid the one question everyone keeps asking: What does he want to do with his life? An unexpected diversion crops up when he is seduced by Mrs. Robinson, a bored housewife and friend of his parents. But what begins as a fun tryst turns complicated when Benjamin falls for the one woman Mrs. Robinson demanded he stay away from, her daughter, Elaine.
Star Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
Plot: Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high school peers. But on the eve of graduation, the best friends suddenly realize that they may have missed out on the special moments of their teenage years. Determined to make up for lost time, the girls decide to cram four years of not-to-be missed fun into one night — a chaotic adventure that no amount of book smarts could prepare them for.
Star Cast: Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Diana Silvers
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Plot: This coming-of-age film follows the mayhem of group of rowdy teenagers in Austin, Texas, celebrating the last day of high school in 1976. The graduating class heads for a popular pool hall and joins an impromptu keg party, however star football player Randall “Pink” Floyd has promised to focus on the championship game and abstain from partying. Meanwhile, the incoming freshmen try to avoid being hazed by the seniors, most notably the sadistic bully Fred O’Bannion.
Star Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jason London, Ben Affleck
Back To School (1986)
Plot: Thornton Melon is concerned that his son Jason is unsure whether to go to college, so the uneducated self-made millionaire encourages him by signing up as a student as well. As Jason tries to establish himself among his peers and make the diving team, Thornton falls for a pretty professor and gets others do his schoolwork for him. When the suspicious dean finds out, Thornton needs to show he can get by on his own.
Star Cast: Rodney Dangerfield, Keith Gordon, Sally Kellerman, Paxton Whitehead
Ghost World (2001)
Plot: The story of neo-cool Enid and Rebecca who, faced with graduation from high school, take a hard look at the world they wryly observe and decide what they really want. When Enid takes an interest in the offbeat Seymour and Rebecca focuses her attention on their mutual romantic fixation Josh, the girls’ friendship is forever changed.
Star Cast: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro
Plot: A high school musical about teens in love in the 1950s. It’s California 1958 and greaser Danny Zuko and Australian Sandy Olsson are in love. They spend time at the beach, and when they go back to school, what neither of them knows is that they both now attend Rydell High. Danny’s the leader of the T-Birds, a group of black leather jacket-wearing greasers while Sandy hangs with the Pink Ladies, a group of pink-wearing girls led by Rizzo. When they clash at Rydell’s first pep rally, Danny isn’t the same Danny from the beach. They try to be like each other so they can be together.
Star Cast: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
Sixteen Candles (1984)
Plot: With the occasion all but overshadowed by her sister’s upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha faces her 16th birthday with typical adolescent dread. Samantha pines for studly older boy Jake, but worries that her chastity will be a turnoff for the popular senior. Meanwhile, Samantha must constantly rebuff the affections of nerdy Ted, the only boy in the school, unfortunately, who seems to take an interest in her.
Star Cast: Molly Ringwald, Michael Schoeffling, Anthony Michael Hall
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Plot: The film follows new student Cameron who is smitten with Bianca and, in order to get around her father’s strict rules on dating, attempts to get bad boy Patrick to date Bianca’s antisocial sister, Kat. The film is named after a poem Kat writes about her romance with Patrick.
Star Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles
American Pie (1999)
Plot: A riotous and raunchy exploration of the most eagerly anticipated — and most humiliating — rite of adulthood, known as losing one’s virginity. In this hilarious lesson in life, love and libido, a group of teenagers, fed up with their well-deserved reputations as sexual no-hitters, decide to take action.
Star Cast: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Tara Reid
Plot: Two inseparable best friends navigate the last weeks of high school and are invited to a gigantic house party. Together with their nerdy friend, they spend a long day trying to score enough alcohol to supply the party and inebriate two girls in order to kick-start their sex lives before they go off to college. Their quest is complicated after one of them falls in with two inept cops who are determined to show him a good time.
Star Cast: Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Micheal Cera, Emma Stone
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Plot: Five high school students from different walks of life endure a Saturday detention under a power-hungry principal. The disparate group includes rebel John, princess Claire, outcast Allison, brainy Brian and Andrew, the jock. Each has a chance to tell his or her story, making the others see them a little differently — and when the day ends, they question whether school will ever be the same.
Star Cast: Paul Gleason, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
Plot: School’s out, and an entire graduating class — from football stars and cool girls to complete nerds — gathers at a wealthy classmate’s home for a party. There, the artistic Preston hopes to move in on Amanda, the beauty he has admired from afar for years. Dorky William schemes to pay back meathead Mike for years of bullying, and would-be rapper Kenny gets locked in a room with snarky Denise.
Star Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Charlie Korsmo, Peter Facinelli, Seth Green, Lauren Ambrose
American Graffiti (1973)
Plot: On the last day of summer vacation in 1962, friends Curt, Steve, Terry and John cruise the streets of small-town California while a mysterious disc jockey spins classic rock’n’roll tunes. It’s the last night before their grown-up lives begin, and Steve’s high-school sweetheart, a hot-to-trot blonde, a bratty adolescent and a disappearing angel in a Thunderbird provide all the excitement they can handle. Before Star Wars, George Lucas directed this coming of age story.
Star Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Ronny Howard, Charles Martin Smith, Paul Le Mat, Wolfman Jack
I Love You, Beth Cooper (2009)
Plot: Nerdy teenager Denis Cooverman harbors a secret crush on Beth Cooper, the hottest girl in high school. During his graduation speech, Denis lets the cat out of the bag and declares his love for Beth, who, instead of dissing Denis, shows up at his house later that day and promises to show him the time of his life.
Star Cast: Paul Rust, Hayden Panettiere
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Plot: Ferris Bueller has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one last duck-out before graduation, Ferris calls in sick, “borrows” a Ferrari, and embarks on a one-day journey through the streets of Chicago. On Ferris’ trail is high school principal Rooney, determined to catch him in the act.
Star Cast: Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara
Lady Bird (2017)
Plot: A nurse works tirelessly to keep her family afloat after her husband loses his job. She also maintains a turbulent bond with a teenage daughter who is just like her: loving, strong-willed and deeply opinionated.
Star Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet, Laurie Metcalf
Reality Bites (1994)
Plot: After college, Lelaina films a documentary about herself and friends as they flounder in their attempts to forge relationships and begin careers. Vickie works retail, has an endless string of one-night stands and awaits the results of her HIV test. Sammy tries to come out to his parents. Lelaina gets involved with yuppie Michael while maintaining a love-hate relationship with Troy, who’s undergoing an existential crisis.
Star Cast: Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, Ben Stiller, Ethan Hawke
The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)
Plot: During summer break, Lizzie McGuire and her closest pals head off on a school-sponsored journey to Rome. Before long she makes the acquaintance of Paolo Valisari, a local music sensation whose duet partner looks almost exactly like Lizzie. Since Paolo and his collaborator recently feuded, Lizzie agrees to stand in for the girl at a massive concert and pretend to sing while a recording plays. But when things don’t go as planned, she must rely on her own vocal chops.
Star Cast: Hilary Duff, Yani Gellman
Billy Madison (1995)
Plot: Man-child Billy Madison has been a spoiled rich kid all his life, and spends his days drinking and partying. When his father, hotel magnate Brian, becomes fed up with his son’s irresponsible ways, he issues an ultimatum. Since Billy passed all his schooling thanks to his father’s influence and bribes, he must retake and pass every grade in 24 weeks. Otherwise, the family business will be turned over to Brian’s conniving associate, Eric.
Star Cast: Adam Sandler, Darren McGavin, Bradley Whitford, Bridgette Wilson
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
Plot: Danger once again surrounds Bella, as a string of mysterious killings terrorizes Seattle and a malicious vampire continues her infernal quest for revenge. Amid the tumult, Bella must choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob, knowing that her decision may ignite the long-simmering feud between vampire and werewolf.
Star Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick