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As a teen, I remember when nobody understood me. I felt alone, unpopular, and never thought talking about it with anyone would help. My escape often came in the form of watching movies. But over the years, I discovered through movies that people do feel like me sometimes. Other people feel alone, unpopular, misunderstood. 

Here is a list of movies that helped me through some of the rougher times in my life, and I hope they help you through yours as well. I also had some help from teens who recommended some additional titles below. What movies would you add?

And hey, you’re not alone. People do understand. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. We’re not all that different after all.

Note: Some titles may be rated R. Most will be available through the Charles County Public Library, but some may need to be special ordered through our MARINA service as an inter-library loan. But they’re totally worth it!

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Coming in hot, this is quite possibly one of the best teen angst films of all time. Written and directed by the quintessential teen movie director of the 80s, John Hughes, five high school students from various social backgrounds are sentenced to an all day detention one Saturday. As they bicker and rant about how their lives are different, they soon learn that they have more in common than they thought.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

I actually watched this movie every day for a whole summer. A group of students in a college preparatory school for boys are all destined to follow the career paths their families have laid out for them, until their new English teacher inspires them to think for themselves.

Angus (1995)

This is the first teen angst movie that made me misty-eyed. An overweight high school student who is in love with a football cheerleader is bullied by her boyfriend. Funny, poignant, and you can’t help but love Angus and his best friend.

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Two ambitious girls, despite their parents’ wishes, have their hearts set on careers in professional soccer.

Mean Girls (2004)

A lonely high school student falls into a popular clique of girls, who call themselves the Plastics, at the cost of her other friendships, and things get even worse when she falls in love with the boyfriends of one of the Plastics.

ATL (2006)

As four friends prepare for life after high school, different challenges bring about turning points in each of their lives. The dramas unfold and resolve at their local roller skating rink, Cascade.

Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother. This one is really funny, if inappropriate at times, and even more uncomfortable at other times.

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018)

A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected romance when the most popular girl in high school and the biggest loser must come together to win over their crushes.

Eighth Grade (2018)

Written and directed by comedy prodigy Bo Burnham, Kayla struggles through her last week of eighth grade before starting high school. Socially awkward, shy, but you’re going to root for her.

The Hate U Give (2018)

Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

Love Simon (2018)

Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

Tall Girl (2019)

Jodi, the tallest girl in her high school, has always felt uncomfortable in her own skin. But after years of slouching, being made fun of, and avoiding attention at all costs, Jodi finally decides to find the confidence to stand tall.

Booksmart (2019)

On the eve of their high-school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night. Just the opening scene when they dance outside of their car before school was a great moment.

The Half of It (2020)

When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn’t expect to become his friend – or fall for his crush.

Dear Evan Hansen (2021)

If you haven’t heard the song “You Will Be Found,” stop right now and Google it. The YouTube video is even better. This musical, based on a broadway show, is about a high school senior with social anxiety who is mistaken to be the best friend of a fellow high school student who committed suicide.

Moxie (2021)

Inspired by her mom’s rebellious past and a confident new friend, a shy 16-year-old publishes an anonymous zine calling out sexism at her school. Based on a book by Jennifer Mathieu.