Ranking the best female coming-of-age stories of the past 15 years
Bringing a new interpretation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic coming-of-age story to screens, PBS miniseries Little Women made nearly every (little and not so little) woman feel hopelessly nostalgic. The cast included Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love), Maya Hawke (Stranger Things), Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies), and Willa Fitzgerald (Freak Show) depicting the charismatic women of the March family.
In honor of this fresh take on one of the greatest female coming-of-age stories ever made, we’ve ranked ten of our own favorite female coming-of-age depictions on screen from the past 15 years, sure to make you feel hopelessly nostalgic for your own adolescence.
10. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
Kelly Fremon Craig’s feature debut balances abrasive comedy with sensitive emotional beats as a high schooler (Hailee Steinfeld) struggles to comprehend the sharp and often confusing edges of her adolescence.
9. Anne with an E (2017 – )
The Netflix Originals series based on L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novels follows young orphan Anne (Amybeth McNulty) as she navigates the various obstacles and delights of her new life on Prince Edward Island.
8. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairytale is entrenched in the dual horrors of fascism and fantasy but at its heart is the story of a young girl (Ivana Baquero) trying to make sense of her life and struggling to grow up within a terrifying world.
7. Juno (2007)
Smartass teenager Juno (Ellen Page) is forced to reckon with her lack of life experience and wisdom when she unexpectedly becomes pregnant. Diablo Cody’s script is smart and sweet with sharp edges that slowly unfurl the harsh revelations of growing up.
6. The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
Boisterous and bawdy, Marielle Heller’s lush examination of 15-year-old Minnie’s (Bel Powley) sexual awakening is limitless for its lack of inhibition and honesty. Set in 1970’s San Francisco with a cast including Alexander Skarsgård (Straw Dogs) & Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), the movie spotlights that coming of age isn’t easy but it can be great fun.
5. Gilmore Girls (2000 – 2007)
Though Amy Sherman-Palladino’s screwball series featured an ensemble cast, at its heart is the story of a single mom (Lauren Graham) watching her daughter (Alexis Bledel) coming of age while reckoning with the mistakes of her own adolescence. The original run of the show is funny, emotional, and offers a satisfying portrait of complex and flawed young women in the grip of major changes.
4. Girlhood (2014)
Though the movie can be devastating, Céline Sciamma’s Paris set coming-of-age story about a girl gang in a rough neighborhood explores the complexity of being a girl and the challenges of becoming a woman with pathos and tenderness.
3. Persepolis (2007)
Based on Marjane Satrapi’s critically acclaimed graphic novel, Persepolis follows a rebel rousing and outspoken Iranian girl (Chiara Mastroianni) as she grows up during the Islamic Revolution. Providing a much needed fresh take on the coming-of-age story, the film is about as punk rock as they get with a rarely seen female perspective at the heart of it.
2. Pariah (2011)
A masterful exploration of teenage sexual expression, Dee Rees’s powerful drama is raw but restrained, following Alike (Adepero Oduye) as she risks friendship, family, and the first stings of true heartbreak in her quest for acceptance and liberation.
1. Lady Bird (2017)
Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated comedy explores the turbulent changes of a teenage girl’s (Saoirse Ronan) inner and outer world with joy, heartbreak, hilarity, and vulnerability. It’s painfully real and sorely relatable.