In Bruges

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The 60 Best Black Comedies, Ranked By Tomatometer

Let’s say you’re the type to laugh while handling the darkest subject matters: Murder, doomsday, blackmail, and maybe even a lil’ tasty cannibalism. If so, twisted friend, you sure have arrived at the right spot to get your gallows guffaws: The 60 Best Dark Comedies, Ranked by Tomatometer!

All this dark material ranges in variation of glib macabre glee, different styles that we’ll touch upon in our selection of the best-reviewed funny black comedies. Most common are movies about murder and the subsequent covering-up, especially when the corpses have a habit of popping up at the most inconvenient times. Think Best Picture-winning Parasite, Fargo, Burn After Reading, and Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry.

Another style of the black comedy movie: Mining jokes out of political fallout when millions of lives are at stake, as seen in Dr. Strangelove, In the Loop, and The Producers. Or how about movies that get you on the serial killer’s side, like being on the ride for The Voices or Monsieur Verdoux. They twist you around enough to make you feel amusingly guilty hoping they’ll get away with it all.

The emergence of the black comedy movie seemed to come around in the 1940s, when filmmaking had evolved enough to artistically interpret real-world horrors (e.g. World War II) with mordant humor, as seen in To Be or Not to Be and Arsenic and Old Lace. Of course, how would they have known their groundbreaking path through the dark side would eventually come to the taboo of cannibalism, as seen in appetizing films like Delicatessen and Eating Raoul? And lest you assume we’re not in touch with our more subtle side when it comes to comedy of the damned, we’ve included philosophical destroyers Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?, Carnage, and the brilliant Withnail and I.

Major players in the realm of dark comedies include status quo-defecating John Waters (Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos), Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Todd Solondz (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse), and the devilish Danny DeVito (The War of the Roses, Ruthless People). Our final stipulation for their movies and everything else on the list is that each had to be rated Fresh, and have at least 20 reviews, to ensure enough critics have shared in the gleeful discomfort.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad (feel free to keep adding more) world out there these days: Grab life by the ruffled lapel and throw it into the wood chipper with The 60 Best Black Comedies, Ranked!

#60

Adam's Apples (2005)
70%

#60
Adjusted Score: 70659%
Critics Consensus: Good and evil collide with interesting results in Adam's Apples, a dark Biblical allegory that's alternatively funny and shocking.
Synopsis: Following a stint in jail, Adam (Ulrich Thomsen), a former neo-Nazi, is temporarily assigned to live in a religious enclave.... [More]
Directed By: Anders Thomas Jensen

#59

Carnage (2011)
70%

#59
Adjusted Score: 77675%
Critics Consensus: It isn't as compelling on the screen as it was on the stage, but Carnage makes up for its flaws with Polanski's smooth direction and assured performances from Winslet and Foster.
Synopsis: When some roughhousing between two 11-year-old boys named Zachary and Ethan erupts into real violence, Ethan loses two teeth. Zachary's... [More]
Directed By: Roman Polanski

#58

The Ref (1994)
73%

#58
Adjusted Score: 75092%
Critics Consensus: Undeniably uneven and too dark for some, The Ref nonetheless boasts strong turns from Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey, as well as a sharply funny script.
Synopsis: Bickering spouses (Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey) annoy the cat burglar (Denis Leary) who takes them hostage in their Connecticut home.... [More]
Directed By: Ted Demme

#57

The Voices (2014)
75%

#57
Adjusted Score: 77527%
Critics Consensus: The Voices gives Ryan Reynolds an opportunity to deliver a highlight-reel performance -- and offers an off-kilter treat for fans of black comedies.
Synopsis: A mentally unhinged factory worker (Ryan Reynolds) must decide whether to listen to his talking cat and become a killer,... [More]
Directed By: Marjane Satrapi

#56

Better Off Dead (1985)
77%

#56
Adjusted Score: 76030%
Critics Consensus: Better Off Dead is an anarchic mix of black humor and surreal comedy, anchored by John Cusack's winsome, charming performance.
Synopsis: Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is a teen with a peculiar family and a bizarre fixation with his girlfriend, Beth (Amanda... [More]
Directed By: Savage Steve Holland

#55

Used Cars (1980)
77%

#55
Adjusted Score: 77894%
Critics Consensus: Robert Zemeckis' pitch-black satire of American culture doesn't always hit the mark, but it's got enough manic comic energy to warrant a spin.
Synopsis: Rudy Russo (Kurt Russell) is an unscrupulous car salesman who aspires to become a politician. In the meantime, however, Rudy... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#54

Freeway (1996)
76%

#54
Adjusted Score: 77981%
Critics Consensus: A modern update on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway is an audacious black comedy with a star-making performance from the young Reese Witherspoon.
Synopsis: Following the arrest of her mother, Ramona (Amanda Plummer), young Vanessa Lutz (Reese Witherspoon) decides to go in search of... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Bright

#53

Bad Santa (2003)
78%

#53
Adjusted Score: 86205%
Critics Consensus: A gloriously rude and gleefully offensive black comedy, Bad Santa isn't for everyone, but grinches will find it uproariously funny.
Synopsis: In this dark comedy, the crotchety Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) and his partner (Tony Cox) reunite once a... [More]
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 87672%
Critics Consensus: With Burn After Reading, the Coen Brothers have crafted another clever comedy/thriller with an outlandish plot and memorable characters.
Synopsis: When a disc containing memoirs of a former CIA analyst (John Malkovich) falls into the hands of Linda Litzke (Frances... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

#51

Catch-22 (1970)
80%

#51
Adjusted Score: 82471%
Critics Consensus: Catch-22 takes entertainingly chaotic aim at the insanity of armed conflict, supported by a terrific cast and smart, funny work from Buck Henry and Mike Nichols.
Synopsis: This scathing war satire follows Capt. John Yossarian (Alan Arkin), a pilot stationed in the Mediterranean who flies bombing missions... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#50

Killer Joe (2011)
80%

#50
Adjusted Score: 86356%
Critics Consensus: Violent, darkly comic, and full of strong performances, Killer Joe proves William Friedkin hasn't lost his touch, even if the plot may be too lurid for some.
Synopsis: A cop (Matthew McConaughey) who moonlights as a hit man agrees to kill the hated mother of a desperate drug... [More]
Directed By: William Friedkin

#49

Pink Flamingos (1972)
83%

#49
Adjusted Score: 86489%
Critics Consensus: Uproarious and appalling, Pink Flamingos is transgressive camp that proves as entertaining as it does shocking.
Synopsis: A bizarre fat woman (Divine) and her misfit family compete with a Baltimore couple (David Lochary, Mink Stole) to be... [More]
Directed By: John Waters

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 86164%
Critics Consensus: A high-concept high school reunion movie with an adroitly cast John Cusack and armed with a script of incisive wit.
Synopsis: After assassin Martin Blank (John Cusack) has trouble focusing on his work, resulting in a failed assignment, he returns to... [More]
Directed By: George Armitage

#47

Happiness (1998)
83%

#47
Adjusted Score: 83865%
Critics Consensus: Happiness is far from a cheerful viewing experience, but its grimly humorous script and fearless performances produce a perversely moving search for humanity within everyday depravity.
Synopsis: This dark ensemble-comedy is centered on the three Jordan sisters. Joy (Jane Adams) moves through lackluster jobs with no sense... [More]
Directed By: Todd Solondz

#46

T2 Trainspotting (2017)
81%

#46
Adjusted Score: 100333%
Critics Consensus: T2 Trainspotting adds an intoxicating, emotionally resonant postscript to its classic predecessor, even without fully recapturing the original's fresh, subversive thrill.
Synopsis: First there was an opportunity, then there was a betrayal. Twenty years later, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 91653%
Critics Consensus: Seven Psychopaths delivers sly cinematic commentary while serving up a heaping helping of sharp dialogue and gleeful violence.
Synopsis: Boozy writer Marty (Colin Farrell) is a man in search of a screenplay. He has a catchy title but no... [More]
Directed By: Martin McDonagh

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 86326%
Critics Consensus: The Brand New Testament takes a surreal, subversive, and funny look at Biblical themes through a modern -- and refreshingly original -- lens.
Synopsis: God is discovered living in Brussels with his daughter.... [More]
Directed By: Jaco Van Dormael

#43

Men & Chicken (2015)
84%

#43
Adjusted Score: 86962%
Critics Consensus: Men & Chicken's bizarre setup only skims the surface of a challenging, well-acted comedy with a warm heart to match its grotesque visuals and dark themes.
Synopsis: Two outcast brothers get to know their biological family and discover the horrible truth about themselves and their relatives.... [More]
Directed By: Anders Thomas Jensen

#42

Four Lions (2009)
83%

#42
Adjusted Score: 87275%
Critics Consensus: Its premise suggests brazenly tasteless humor, but Four Lions is actually a smart, pitch-black comedy that carries the unmistakable ring of truth.
Synopsis: A group of young Muslim men living in Sheffield decide to wage jihad, and they hatch an inept plan to... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Morris

#41

Harold and Maude (1971)
86%

#41
Adjusted Score: 89691%
Critics Consensus: Hal Ashby's comedy is too dark and twisted for some, and occasionally oversteps its bounds, but there's no denying the film's warm humor and big heart.
Synopsis: Cult classic pairs Cort as a dead-pan disillusioned 20-year-old obsessed with suicide and a loveable Gordon as a fun-loving 80-year-old... [More]
Directed By: Hal Ashby

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 93062%
Critics Consensus: The Art of Self-Defense grapples compellingly with modern American masculinity -- and serves as an outstanding calling card for writer-director Riley Stearns.
Synopsis: After getting attacked on the street, Casey enlists in a local dojo that's led by a charismatic and mysterious sensei.... [More]
Directed By: Riley Stearns

#39

In Bruges (2008)
84%

#39
Adjusted Score: 91507%
Critics Consensus: Featuring witty dialogue and deft performances, In Bruges is an effective mix of dark comedy and crime thriller elements.
Synopsis: After a particularly difficult job, hit men Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) head to Belgium to hide out... [More]
Directed By: Martin McDonagh

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: 85837%
Critics Consensus: The War of the Roses is a black comedy made even funnier by hanging onto its caustic convictions -- and further distinguished by Danny DeVito's stylish direction.
Synopsis: After 17 years of marriage, Barbara (Kathleen Turner) and Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) want out. The trouble is, neither one... [More]
Directed By: Danny DeVito

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 92852%
Critics Consensus: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.
Synopsis: Two-bit crook Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) stumbles into an audition for a mystery film while on the run from... [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

#36

Game Night (2018)
85%

#36
Adjusted Score: 99843%
Critics Consensus: With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise -- and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists -- Game Night might be more fun than the real thing.
Synopsis: Max and Annie's weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max's brother Brooks arranges a murder mystery party... [More]

#35

Eating Raoul (1982)
86%

#35
Adjusted Score: 81965%
Critics Consensus: Eating Raoul serves up its spectacularly lurid tale with a healthy heaping of pitch-black humor and anarchic vigor.
Synopsis: The absurd Blands (Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov) lure swingers home to be conked by a skillet, robbed and removed by... [More]
Directed By: Paul Bartel

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 89440%
Critics Consensus: In Order of Disappearance's black comedy doesn't always hit its targets, but on the whole, it still adds up to a sly, entertaining revenge thriller.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Hans Petter Moland

#33

Ingrid Goes West (2017)
85%

#33
Adjusted Score: 99833%
Critics Consensus: Led by strong performances from Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, Ingrid Goes West delivers smart, topical humor underlined by timely social observations.
Synopsis: Following the death of her mother and a series of self-inflicted setbacks, young Ingrid Thorburn escapes a humdrum existence by... [More]
Directed By: Matt Spicer

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 85466%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Writer and notorious marriage detractor Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) falls for girl-next-door Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane), and they tie the... [More]
Directed By: Frank Capra

#31

Female Trouble (1975)
89%

#31
Adjusted Score: 90878%
Critics Consensus: Director John Waters' affection for camp brings texture to societal transgression in Female Trouble, a brazenly subversive dive into celebrity and mayhem.
Synopsis: An obese woman (Divine) gives birth to an obnoxious child and embarks upon a bizarre and violent life of crime.... [More]
Directed By: John Waters

#30

Cheap Thrills (2013)
88%

#30
Adjusted Score: 91802%
Critics Consensus: Gleefully nasty and darkly hilarious, Cheap Thrills lives down to its title in the best possible way.
Synopsis: A series of escalating bets pits recently reunited friends against each other.... [More]
Directed By: E.L. Katz

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 92598%
Critics Consensus: World's Greatest Dad is a risky, deadpan, dark comedy that effectively explores the nature of posthumous cults of celebrity.
Synopsis: When the son of high school English teacher Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) accidentally kills himself, Clayton writes a fake suicide... [More]
Directed By: Bobcat Goldthwait

#28

The Lobster (2015)
87%

#28
Adjusted Score: 103165%
Critics Consensus: As strange as it is thrillingly ambitious, The Lobster is definitely an acquired taste -- but for viewers with the fortitude to crack through Yorgos Lanthimos' offbeat sensibilities, it should prove a savory cinematic treat.
Synopsis: In a dystopian society, single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of... [More]
Directed By: Yorgos Lanthimos

#27

After Hours (1985)
91%

#27
Adjusted Score: 95165%
Critics Consensus: Bursting with frantic energy and tinged with black humor, After Hours is a masterful -- and often overlooked -- detour in Martin Scorsese's filmography.
Synopsis: In a Manhattan cafe, word processor Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) meets and talks literature with Marcy (Rosanna Arquette). Later that... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#26

Delicatessen (1991)
89%

#26
Adjusted Score: 92717%
Critics Consensus: Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet deftly combines horror, sci-fi, and humor in Delicatessen, a morbid comedy set in a visually ravishing futuristic dystopia.
Synopsis: Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) is a butcher who owns a run-down apartment building in post-apocalyptic France. The building is in constant... [More]

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 94923%
Critics Consensus: An outstanding sophomore feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse sees writer-director Todd Solondz mining suburban teen angst for black, biting comedy.
Synopsis: Middle-school student Dawn Weiner (Heather Matarazzo) faces degradation at school -- where she is teased constantly -- and at home.... [More]
Directed By: Todd Solondz

#24

The Producers (1968)
90%

#24
Adjusted Score: 98131%
Critics Consensus: A hilarious satire of the business side of Hollywood, The Producers is one of Mel Brooks' finest, as well as funniest films, featuring standout performances by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel.
Synopsis: Down and out producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), who was once the toast of Broadway, trades sexual favors with old... [More]
Directed By: Mel Brooks

#23

A Serious Man (2009)
89%

#23
Adjusted Score: 98165%
Critics Consensus: Blending dark humor with profoundly personal themes, the Coen brothers deliver what might be their most mature -- if not their best -- film to date.
Synopsis: Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a physics professor at a 1960s university, but his life is coming apart at the... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

#22
Adjusted Score: 122113%
Critics Consensus: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deftly balances black comedy against searing drama -- and draws unforgettable performances from its veteran cast along the way.
Synopsis: After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter's murder case, Mildred Hayes makes a bold move, painting three... [More]
Directed By: Martin McDonagh

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 89888%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a local man's corpse appears on a nearby hillside, no one is quite sure what happened to him. Many... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

#20

Polyester (1981)
93%

#20
Adjusted Score: 94520%
Critics Consensus: As proudly tacky as its titular fabric, Polyester finds writer-director John Waters moving ever so slightly into the mainstream without losing any of his subversive charm.
Synopsis: A frustrated housewife, Francine Fishpaw (Divine), tries to maintain her sanity while taking care of her dysfunctional household. Elmer (David... [More]
Directed By: John Waters

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 90268%
Critics Consensus: The Firemen's Ball is an uproarious comedy of incompetence, mining laughs and sharp satire from an allegory that is amusing and distressing in equal measure.
Synopsis: In Milos Forman's satire on Communism set in a small Czechoslovakian town in the 1960s, the local firemen decide to... [More]
Directed By: Milos Forman

#18

Trainspotting (1996)
90%

#18
Adjusted Score: 94272%
Critics Consensus: A brutal, often times funny, other times terrifying portrayal of drug addiction in Edinburgh. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth viewing as a realistic and entertaining reminder of the horrors of drug use.
Synopsis: Heroin addict Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) stumbles through bad ideas and sobriety attempts with his unreliable friends -- Sick Boy... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#17
Adjusted Score: 106365%
Critics Consensus: A thrilling leap forward for director Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman is an ambitious technical showcase powered by a layered story and outstanding performances from Michael Keaton and Edward Norton.
Synopsis: Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life... [More]

#16

Heathers (1989)
93%

#16
Adjusted Score: 96137%
Critics Consensus: Dark, cynical, and subversive, Heathers gently applies a chainsaw to the conventions of the high school movie -- changing the game for teen comedies to follow.
Synopsis: Veronica (Winona Ryder) is part of the most popular clique at her high school, but she disapproves of the other... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lehmann

#15

Fargo (1996)
94%

#15
Adjusted Score: 100383%
Critics Consensus: Violent, quirky, and darkly funny, Fargo delivers an original crime story and a wonderful performance by McDormand.
Synopsis: "Fargo" is a reality-based crime drama set in Minnesota in 1987. Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is a car salesman... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

#14

Withnail and I (1987)
92%

#14
Adjusted Score: 91700%
Critics Consensus: Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann prove irresistibly hilarious as two misanthropic slackers in Withnail and I, a biting examination of artists living on the fringes of prosperity and good taste.
Synopsis: Two out-of-work actors -- the anxious, luckless Marwood (Paul McGann) and his acerbic, alcoholic friend, Withnail (Richard E. Grant) --... [More]
Directed By: Bruce Robinson

#13

Ruthless People (1986)
93%

#13
Adjusted Score: 96673%
Critics Consensus: It's sometimes crude and tasteless, but Ruthless People wrings acid-soaked laughs out of its dark premise and gleefully misanthropic characters.
Synopsis: Sam Stone (Danny DeVito) hates his wife, Barbara (Bette Midler), so much that he wants her dead. He's ecstatic when... [More]

#12

In the Loop (2009)
94%

#12
Adjusted Score: 100024%
Critics Consensus: In the Loop is an uncommonly funny political satire that blends Dr. Strangelove with Spinal Tap for the Iraq war era.
Synopsis: During an interview, British Cabinet Minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) delivers an off-the-cuff remark that war in the Middle East... [More]
Directed By: Armando Iannucci

#11
Adjusted Score: 100157%
Critics Consensus: Led by a volcanic performance from Elizabeth Taylor, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a scathing adaptation of the Edward Albee play that serves as a brilliant calling card for debuting director Mike Nichols.
Synopsis: History professor George (Richard Burton) and his boozy wife, Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), return late one Saturday night from a cocktail... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 109390%
Critics Consensus: The Death of Stalin finds director/co-writer Arnando Iannucci in riotous form, bringing his scabrous political humor to bear on a chapter in history with painfully timely parallels.
Synopsis: When tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin dies in 1953, his parasitic cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to become... [More]
Directed By: Armando Iannucci

#9

Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
97%

#9
Adjusted Score: 97718%
Critics Consensus: Charles Chaplin adds an undercurrent of malice to his comedic persona in Monsieur Verdoux, an unsettling satire that subverts the tramp's image to perversely amusing effect.
Synopsis: Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin) is a dapper Parisian family man who loses his job as a bank clerk. In order... [More]
Directed By: Charles Chaplin

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 101664%
Critics Consensus: A complex and timely satire with as much darkness as slapstick, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be delicately balances humor and ethics.
Synopsis: Acting couple Joseph (Jack Benny) and Maria Tura (Carole Lombard) are managing a theatrical troupe when the Nazis invade Poland.... [More]
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch

#7

Brazil (1985)
98%

#7
Adjusted Score: 101621%
Critics Consensus: Brazil, Terry Gilliam's visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy, filled with strange, imaginative visuals.
Synopsis: Low-level bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) escapes the monotony of his day-to-day life through a recurring daydream of himself as... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#6
Adjusted Score: 105933%
Critics Consensus: Stanley Kubrick's brilliant Cold War satire remains as funny and razor-sharp today as it was in 1964.
Synopsis: A film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button -- and it played the situation... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#5

Parasite (2019)
99%

#5
Adjusted Score: 127998%
Critics Consensus: An urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes, Parasite finds writer-director Bong Joon Ho in near-total command of his craft.
Synopsis: Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#4

Multiple Maniacs (1970)
100%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101660%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The Cavalcade of Perversion, a traveling freak-show, is a front for a band of psychotic kidnappers and murderers.... [More]
Directed By: John Waters

#3

The Ladykillers (1955)
100%

#3
Adjusted Score: 102588%
Critics Consensus: The Ladykillers is a macabre slow-burn with quirky performances of even quirkier characters.
Synopsis: Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) likes to report suspicious behavior to the police. Unaware of her reputation, the dapper thief Professor... [More]
Directed By: Alexander Mackendrick

#2

A New Leaf (1971)
94%

#2
Adjusted Score: 96274%
Critics Consensus: Elaine May is a comedic dynamo both behind and in front of the camera in this viciously funny screwball farce, with able support provided by Walter Matthau.
Synopsis: A spoiled and self-absorbed man who has squandered his inheritance, Henry Graham (Walter Matthau) is desperate to find a way... [More]
Directed By: Elaine May

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 104494%
Critics Consensus: Performed with chameleonic brio by Alec Guinness, Kind Hearts and Coronets is a triumphant farce.
Synopsis: When his mother eloped with an Italian opera singer, Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) was cut off from her aristocratic family.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Hamer

(Photo by Universal / courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved The Breakfast Club

If you’re looking for more movies like The Breakfast Club, you’ve come to the right place, princess. Or criminal. Or basket case. Or whoever you identify with from John Hughes’ timeless high school classic of disaffected youth. If you’re new to school, Hughes was the outsider king of ’80s cinema. The other movies of the era he was involved with — Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful — are nearly equal in stature to Breakfast Club.

A lot of high school movies are about partying, and there’s certainly some of those necessary classics in this guide (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused), but Breakfast Club is beloved for synthesizing the emotional and mental states of those further down the social ladder. A lot of these stories are told from male perspectives, like in broad comedies Weird Science or Better Off Dead, the fight-ready My Bodyguard or Lucas, the sincerely devastating Dead Poets Society, and the bring-on-the-’90s Pump Up the Volume.

Of course, much of the appeal of John Hughes movies is that they aren’t just boys clubs. Thanks to his groundbreaking works, high school cinema opened up for female-centric stories, including the black comedy satire Heathers and the frothy Clueless, which would lead the way into the new century for Mean Girls and The Edge of Seventeen.

The 21st century got its high school outsider poster boy with Napoleon Dynamite in 2004. As the internet became ubiquitous and we became more connected and young people more empathetic (we hope), high school movies evolved into ground zero for a new class of protagonists we wouldn’t have seen even in prior years. For proof, see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, or the LGBTQ-focused Booksmart and Love, Simon. The movies of John Hughes, who sought to save the hearts and souls of the young before they were sacrificed to society and class hierarchy, helped make these movies possible.

What would you recommend to someone who loved The Breakfast Club?

#20

Weird Science (1985)
56%

#20
Adjusted Score: 57253%
Critics Consensus: Hardly in the same league as John Hughes' other teen movies, the resolutely goofy Weird Science nonetheless gets some laughs via its ridiculous premise and enjoyable performances.
Synopsis: Teen misfits Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) design their ideal woman on a computer, and a freak... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#19

Lucas (1986)
73%

#19
Adjusted Score: 73391%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Lucas (Corey Haim) is an unusually bright teenager whose nerdy looks and meek demeanor make him a favorite target for... [More]
Directed By: David Seltzer

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 77992%
Critics Consensus: A charming, quirky, and often funny comedy.
Synopsis: In small-town Preston, Idaho, awkward teen Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) has trouble fitting in. After his grandmother is injured in... [More]
Directed By: Jared Hess

#17

Better Off Dead (1985)
77%

#17
Adjusted Score: 76030%
Critics Consensus: Better Off Dead is an anarchic mix of black humor and surreal comedy, anchored by John Cusack's winsome, charming performance.
Synopsis: Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is a teen with a peculiar family and a bizarre fixation with his girlfriend, Beth (Amanda... [More]
Directed By: Savage Steve Holland

#16
Adjusted Score: 82212%
Critics Consensus: While Fast Times at Ridgemont High features Sean Penn's legendary performance, the film endures because it accurately captured the small details of school, work, and teenage life.
Synopsis: Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a pretty, but inexperienced, teen interested in dating. Given advice by her uninhibited friend,... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 83077%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In Arizona, an introverted and insightful teenager, Mark Hunter (Christian Slater), finds an outlet for his viewpoints through a shortwave... [More]
Directed By: Allan Moyle

#14

Clueless (1995)
81%

#14
Adjusted Score: 88152%
Critics Consensus: A funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati.
Synopsis: Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school's pecking scale.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#13

Pretty in Pink (1986)
73%

#13
Adjusted Score: 78076%
Critics Consensus: Molly Ringwald gives an outstanding performance in this sweet, intelligent teen comedy that takes an ancient premise and injects it with insight and wit.
Synopsis: Andie (Molly Ringwald) is an outcast at her Chicago high school, hanging out either with her older boss (Annie Potts),... [More]
Directed By: Howard Deutch

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 88047%
Critics Consensus: Matthew Broderick charms in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a light and irrepressibly fun movie about being young and having fun.
Synopsis: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 76197%
Critics Consensus: Some Kind of Wonderful is above-average '80s teen fare for people who need as much John Hughes in their lives as possible.
Synopsis: Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz), an artsy high school outcast, tries to land a date with popular girl Amanda Jones (Lea... [More]
Directed By: Howard Deutch

#10
Adjusted Score: 89741%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully scripted and perfectly cast, Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age movie with uncommon charm and insight.
Synopsis: An awkward high-school senior (Thomas Mann) and a gravely ill classmate (Olivia Cooke) surprise themselves by becoming inseparable friends.... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

#9

My Bodyguard (1980)
81%

#9
Adjusted Score: 83083%
Critics Consensus: T. Bill debuts as an affectionate director, keenly aware of growing pains.
Synopsis: Clifford Peache (Chris Makepeace) is a sensitive, well-to-do teen who becomes the target of bully Melvin Moody (Matt Dillon) after... [More]
Directed By: Tony Bill

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 87529%
Critics Consensus: Affecting performances from the young cast and a genuinely inspirational turn from Robin Williams grant Peter Weir's prep school drama top honors.
Synopsis: A new English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), is introduced to an all-boys preparatory school that is known for its... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#7

Mean Girls (2004)
84%

#7
Adjusted Score: 91709%
Critics Consensus: Elevated by a brilliant screenplay and outstanding ensemble cast, Mean Girls finds fresh, female-fronted humor in the high school experience.
Synopsis: Teenage Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) was educated in Africa by her scientist parents. When her family moves to the suburbs... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#6

Sixteen Candles (1984)
81%

#6
Adjusted Score: 83571%
Critics Consensus: Significantly more mature than the teen raunch comedies that defined the era, Sixteen Candles is shot with compassion and clear respect for its characters and their hang-ups.
Synopsis: With the occasion all but overshadowed by her sister's upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha (Molly Ringwald) faces her 16th birthday with... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 95766%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an excellent ensemble cast, a precise feel for the 1970s, and a killer soundtrack, Dazed and Confused is a funny, affectionate, and clear-eyed look at high school life.
Synopsis: This coming-of-age film follows the mayhem of group of rowdy teenagers in Austin, Texas, celebrating the last day of high... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#4

Love, Simon (2018)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 105542%
Critics Consensus: Love, Simon hits its coming-of-age beats more deftly than many entries in this well-traveled genre -- and represents an overdue, if not entirely successful, milestone of inclusion.
Synopsis: Everyone deserves a great love story, but for 17-year-old Simon Spier, it's a little more complicated. He hasn't told his... [More]
Directed By: Greg Berlanti

#3

Heathers (1989)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 96137%
Critics Consensus: Dark, cynical, and subversive, Heathers gently applies a chainsaw to the conventions of the high school movie -- changing the game for teen comedies to follow.
Synopsis: Veronica (Winona Ryder) is part of the most popular clique at her high school, but she disapproves of the other... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lehmann

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 107824%
Critics Consensus: The Edge of Seventeen's sharp script -- and Hailee Steinfeld's outstanding lead performance -- make this more than just another coming-of-age dramedy.
Synopsis: Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Fremon Craig

#1

Booksmart (2019)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 120170%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy.
Synopsis: Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high... [More]
Directed By: Olivia Wilde

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, like they’re accepted, and sometimes, the best way to achieve that is to join a club. For example, if you were, say, an older woman interested in Twilight-inspired erotic fan fiction, you might seek out the cast of this week’s Book Club, in which four lifelong friends bond over tea, cucumber sandwiches, and the novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Or, you know, maybe that’s not your thing, and if it isn’t, then we’ve got 24 other clubs from the movies that might interest you. From bad boys to mean girls, musical ensembles to secret societies, check out the full gallery below.

70 Best High School Movies of All Time

For some, high school is the peak of their life: You’ve got prom and pep rallies, and homecoming and hormones. For others, it’s the pits because you’ve got…well, prom and pep rallies, and homecoming and hormones. And there to capture every awesome/awful moment are these high school movies which earned high grades from film critics.

Some of these beloved movies (like The Last Picture Show or American Graffiti) take a look back on high school with the clarity of time gone by. Others (like Superbad or Booksmart) make you feel like the high school experience is unfolding in real-time right before your eyes.

The best high school movies reflect discovering one’s self (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), questioning authority (Dead Poets Society), taking wild risks (Better Luck Tomorrow), and working for a better future (Hoop Dreams). And some ask the big questions. Like, what if I was in high school and I was also, you know, a superhero? What if one day I’m driving to school and then I time-travel back to 1955? And what if I had a better idea of what to do with that pie than just eating it?

As the jump-gate into adulthood and beyond, high school can be wild and wondrous and heart-breaking and hilarious. (And usually all at once.) The same can be said for these Fresh and Certified Fresh films (each with at least 20 critics reviews), representing the best high school movies ever, all ranked by Tomatometer!

#70

American Pie (1999)
61%

#70
Adjusted Score: 65417%
Critics Consensus: So embarrassing it's believable, American Pie succeeds in bringing back the teen movie genre.
Synopsis: A riotous and raunchy exploration of the most eagerly anticipated -- and most humiliating -- rite of adulthood, known as... [More]
Directed By: Paul Weitz

#69

Bring It On (2000)
64%

#69
Adjusted Score: 68271%
Critics Consensus: Despite the formulaic, fluffy storyline, this movie is surprisingly fun to watch, mostly due to its high energy and how it humorously spoofs cheerleading instead of taking itself too seriously.
Synopsis: The Toro cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego has got spirit, spunk, sass and a killer... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#68
Adjusted Score: 68212%
Critics Consensus: It won't win many converts, but High School Musical 3 is bright, energetic, and well-crafted.
Synopsis: Amid preparations for a basketball championship, prom, and graduation, sweethearts Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) vow... [More]
Directed By: Kenny Ortega

#67

O (2001)
64%

#67
Adjusted Score: 67695%
Critics Consensus: Though well-intentioned and serious in its exploration of teen violence, O is an uneven experiment that doesn't quite succeed.
Synopsis: Moving the classic tale of "Othello" onto the basketball courts of a high school, the story focuses on a young... [More]
Directed By: Tim Blake Nelson

#66
Adjusted Score: 73010%
Critics Consensus: Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger add strong performances to an unexpectedly clever script, elevating 10 Things (slightly) above typical teen fare.
Synopsis: Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) is beautiful, smart and quite abrasive to most of her fellow teens, meaning that she doesn't... [More]
Directed By: Gil Junger

#65

Palo Alto (2013)
68%

#65
Adjusted Score: 73194%
Critics Consensus: A promising debut for director Gia Coppola, Palo Alto compensates for its drifting plot with solid performances and beautiful cinematography.
Synopsis: A lack of parental guidance encourages teens in an affluent California town to rebel with substance abuse and casual sex.... [More]
Directed By: Gia Coppola

#64

Freedom Writers (2007)
70%

#64
Adjusted Score: 74271%
Critics Consensus: Freedom Writers is a frank, formulaic entry in the inspirational inner-city teacher genre, with an energetic Hilary Swank leading the appealing cast of unknowns.
Synopsis: A dedicated teacher (Hilary Swank) in a racially divided Los Angeles school has a class of at-risk teenagers deemed incapable... [More]
Directed By: Richard LaGravenese

#63
#63
Adjusted Score: 77992%
Critics Consensus: A charming, quirky, and often funny comedy.
Synopsis: In small-town Preston, Idaho, awkward teen Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) has trouble fitting in. After his grandmother is injured in... [More]
Directed By: Jared Hess

#62

The DUFF (2015)
73%

#62
Adjusted Score: 76534%
Critics Consensus: The DUFF doesn't achieve teen-movie greatness, but offers enough of a postmodern twist on the genre to recommend -- and boasts typically great work from star Mae Whitman.
Synopsis: Frumpy high-school senior Bianca (Mae Whitman) has a rude awakening when she learns that her classmates secretly know her as... [More]
Directed By: Ari Sandel

#61

Elephant (2003)
73%

#61
Adjusted Score: 78808%
Critics Consensus: The movie's spare and unconventional style will divide viewers.
Synopsis: A variety of adolescents at a suburban high school drift through a seemingly uneventful day, until two students arrive with... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#60

Pretty in Pink (1986)
73%

#60
Adjusted Score: 78076%
Critics Consensus: Molly Ringwald gives an outstanding performance in this sweet, intelligent teen comedy that takes an ancient premise and injects it with insight and wit.
Synopsis: Andie (Molly Ringwald) is an outcast at her Chicago high school, hanging out either with her older boss (Annie Potts),... [More]
Directed By: Howard Deutch

#59
#59
Adjusted Score: 75988%
Critics Consensus: A feel-good story brought to life by a terrific ensemble cast, Mr. Holland's Opus plucks the heartstrings without shame -- and with undeniable skill.
Synopsis: Composer Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) believes that he'll eventually write a transcendent piece of music, but in the meantime he's... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Herek

#58

Grease (1978)
76%

#58
Adjusted Score: 83785%
Critics Consensus: Grease is a pleasing, energetic musical with infectiously catchy songs and an ode to young love that never gets old.
Synopsis: Experience the friendships, romances and adventures of a group of high school kids in the 1950s. Welcome to the singing... [More]
Directed By: Randal Kleiser

#57
#57
Adjusted Score: 76278%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: World War II veteran Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) takes a teaching position at a rough New York City school for... [More]
Directed By: Richard Brooks

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 76197%
Critics Consensus: Some Kind of Wonderful is above-average '80s teen fare for people who need as much John Hughes in their lives as possible.
Synopsis: Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz), an artsy high school outcast, tries to land a date with popular girl Amanda Jones (Lea... [More]
Directed By: Howard Deutch

#55

Better Off Dead (1985)
77%

#55
Adjusted Score: 76030%
Critics Consensus: Better Off Dead is an anarchic mix of black humor and surreal comedy, anchored by John Cusack's winsome, charming performance.
Synopsis: Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is a teen with a peculiar family and a bizarre fixation with his girlfriend, Beth (Amanda... [More]
Directed By: Savage Steve Holland

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 82264%
Critics Consensus: The Virgin Suicides drifts with a dreamlike melancholy that may strike some audiences as tedious, but Sofia Coppola's feature debut is a mature meditation on disaffected youth.
Synopsis: In an ordinary suburban house, on a lovely tree-lined street, in the middle of 1970s America, lived the five beautiful,... [More]
Directed By: Sofia Coppola

#53
Adjusted Score: 82212%
Critics Consensus: While Fast Times at Ridgemont High features Sean Penn's legendary performance, the film endures because it accurately captured the small details of school, work, and teenage life.
Synopsis: Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a pretty, but inexperienced, teen interested in dating. Given advice by her uninhibited friend,... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#52

Scream (1996)
79%

#52
Adjusted Score: 83789%
Critics Consensus: Horror icon Wes Craven's subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it's a little too cheeky for some.
Synopsis: The sleepy little town of Woodsboro just woke up screaming. There's a killer in their midst who's seen a few... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#51

Brick (2005)
80%

#51
Adjusted Score: 85870%
Critics Consensus: This entertaining homage to noirs past has been slickly and compellingly updated to a contemporary high school setting.
Synopsis: After receiving a frantic phone call from his ex-girlfriend, teenage loner Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learns that her dead body... [More]
Directed By: Rian Johnson

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 88047%
Critics Consensus: Matthew Broderick charms in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a light and irrepressibly fun movie about being young and having fun.
Synopsis: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#49
Adjusted Score: 84942%
Critics Consensus: Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are just charming, goofy, and silly enough to make this fluffy time-travel Adventure work.
Synopsis: Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are high school buddies starting a band. However, they are about to fail... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Herek

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 82568%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A teenager (P.J. Soles) and her friends get even with their principal to music by the Ramones.... [More]

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 84543%
Critics Consensus: A promising work by Lin, the energetic Better Luck Tomorrow is disturbing and thought-provoking.
Synopsis: An accomplished high school student, Ben (Parry Shen) seems to excel at almost everything except winning over his dream girl,... [More]
Directed By: Justin Lin

#46

Clueless (1995)
81%

#46
Adjusted Score: 88152%
Critics Consensus: A funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati.
Synopsis: Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school's pecking scale.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#45
Adjusted Score: 89741%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully scripted and perfectly cast, Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age movie with uncommon charm and insight.
Synopsis: An awkward high-school senior (Thomas Mann) and a gravely ill classmate (Olivia Cooke) surprise themselves by becoming inseparable friends.... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 87945%
Critics Consensus: An acute survey of the football-obsessed heartland that succeeds as both a stirring drama and a rousing sports movie.
Synopsis: A small, turbulent town in Texas obsesses over their high school football team to an unhealthy degree. When the star... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 87841%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two childhood friends who both aspire to be professional basketball players. Quincy,... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince

#42

Fame (1980)
81%

#42
Adjusted Score: 83083%
Critics Consensus: Just because Fame is a well-acted musical doesn't mean it flinches against its surprisingly heavy topics.
Synopsis: Young men and women audition for coveted spots at the New York High School of Performing Arts. Those who make... [More]
Directed By: Alan Parker

#41

Rocket Science (2007)
84%

#41
Adjusted Score: 88320%
Critics Consensus: Though Rocket Science appears to be a typically quirky indie, the well-rounded performances and director Jeffrey Blitz's clear affection for his characters gives the film its proper human spark.
Synopsis: High-school student Hal Hefner's (Reece Daniel Thompson) life is falling down around him. His parents have split, his brother picks... [More]
Directed By: Jeffrey Blitz

#40

My Bodyguard (1980)
81%

#40
Adjusted Score: 83083%
Critics Consensus: T. Bill debuts as an affectionate director, keenly aware of growing pains.
Synopsis: Clifford Peache (Chris Makepeace) is a sensitive, well-to-do teen who becomes the target of bully Melvin Moody (Matt Dillon) after... [More]
Directed By: Tony Bill

#39

Sixteen Candles (1984)
81%

#39
Adjusted Score: 83571%
Critics Consensus: Significantly more mature than the teen raunch comedies that defined the era, Sixteen Candles is shot with compassion and clear respect for its characters and their hang-ups.
Synopsis: With the occasion all but overshadowed by her sister's upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha (Molly Ringwald) faces her 16th birthday with... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#38

Mean Girls (2004)
84%

#38
Adjusted Score: 91709%
Critics Consensus: Elevated by a brilliant screenplay and outstanding ensemble cast, Mean Girls finds fresh, female-fronted humor in the high school experience.
Synopsis: Teenage Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) was educated in Africa by her scientist parents. When her family moves to the suburbs... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 87529%
Critics Consensus: Affecting performances from the young cast and a genuinely inspirational turn from Robin Williams grant Peter Weir's prep school drama top honors.
Synopsis: A new English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), is introduced to an all-boys preparatory school that is known for its... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#36

Blockers (2018)
84%

#36
Adjusted Score: 96892%
Critics Consensus: Blockers puts a gender-swapped spin on the teen sex comedy -- one elevated by strong performances, a smartly funny script, and a surprisingly enlightened perspective.
Synopsis: Julie, Kayla and Sam are three high school seniors who make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night.... [More]
Directed By: Kay Cannon

#35
Adjusted Score: 88785%
Critics Consensus: My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea's attention-getting visual style matches debuting writer-director Dash Shaw's distinctive narrative approach -- and signals a bright future for a promising talent.
Synopsis: High school sophomores Dash and Assaf are best friends and the only writers for the school newspaper. When the editor... [More]
Directed By: Dash Shaw

#34

Bully (2011)
85%

#34
Adjusted Score: 90944%
Critics Consensus: Hard-hitting and gracefully filmed, Bully powerfully delivers an essential message to an audience that may not be able to see it.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Lee Hirsch examines five cases of youths who endure vicious persecution at the hands of their peers. Ja'meye, 14,... [More]
Directed By: Lee Hirsch

#33

Easy A (2010)
85%

#33
Adjusted Score: 91598%
Critics Consensus: It owes a huge debt to older (and better) teen comedies, but Easy A proves a smart, witty showcase for its irresistibly charming star, Emma Stone.
Synopsis: Prompted by her popular best friend to spill details of her boring weekend, Olive (Emma Stone), a clean-cut teen, decides... [More]
Directed By: Will Gluck

#32

Chronicle (2012)
85%

#32
Adjusted Score: 93040%
Critics Consensus: Chronicle transcends its found-footage gimmick with a smart script, fast-paced direction, and engaging performances from the young cast.
Synopsis: Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a socially awkward, introverted teen whose main form of escape and expression is a video camera.... [More]
Directed By: Josh Trank

#31
Adjusted Score: 92355%
Critics Consensus: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a heartfelt and sincere adaptation that's bolstered by strong lead performances.
Synopsis: Socially awkward teen Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a wallflower, always watching life from the sidelines, until two charismatic students become... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Chbosky

#30

21 Jump Street (2012)
85%

#30
Adjusted Score: 94091%
Critics Consensus: A smart, affectionate satire of '80s nostalgia and teen movie tropes, 21 Jump Street offers rowdy mainstream comedy with a surprisingly satisfying bite.
Synopsis: When cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) join the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances... [More]

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 88151%
Critics Consensus: Peggy Sue Got Married may seem just another in a line of '80s boomer nostalgia films, but none of the others have Kathleen Turner keen lead performance.
Synopsis: Peggy Sue Bodell (Kathleen Turner) attends her 25-year high school reunion after separating from her cheating husband, Charlie (Nicolas Cage).... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#28

Donnie Darko (2001)
87%

#28
Adjusted Score: 91373%
Critics Consensus: Richard Kelly's debut feature Donnie Darko is a daring, original vision, packed with jarring ideas and intelligence and featuring a remarkable performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as the troubled title character.
Synopsis: In a funny, moving and distinctly mind-bending journey through suburban America, one extraordinary but disenchanted teenager is about to take... [More]
Directed By: Richard Kelly

#27

River's Edge (1987)
88%

#27
Adjusted Score: 87837%
Critics Consensus: A harrowing tale of aimless youth, River's Edge generates considerable tension and urgency thanks to strong performances from a stellar cast that includes Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, and Ione Skye.
Synopsis: Teenage burnout Samson (Daniel Roebuck) has murdered his girlfriend and left her naked body lying on the bank of a... [More]
Directed By: Tim Hunter

#26

Dope (2015)
88%

#26
Adjusted Score: 94406%
Critics Consensus: Featuring a starmaking performance from Shameik Moore and a refreshingly original point of view from writer-director Rick Famuyiwa, Dope is smart, insightful entertainment.
Synopsis: High-school senior Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) bond over '90s hip-hop culture,... [More]
Directed By: Rick Famuyiwa

#25

Superbad (2007)
87%

#25
Adjusted Score: 96300%
Critics Consensus: Deftly balancing vulgarity and sincerity while placing its protagonists in excessive situations, Superbad is an authentic take on friendship and the overarching awkwardness of the high school experience.
Synopsis: High school seniors Seth and Evan have high hopes for a graduation party. The co-dependent teens plan to score booze... [More]
Directed By: Greg Mottola

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 93799%
Critics Consensus: The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers.
Synopsis: Five high school students from different walks of life endure a Saturday detention under a power-hungry principal (Paul Gleason). The... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#23

Rushmore (1998)
89%

#23
Adjusted Score: 94336%
Critics Consensus: This cult favorite is a quirky coming of age story, with fine, off-kilter performances from Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray.
Synopsis: When a beautiful first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams) arrives at a prep school, she soon attracts the attention of an ambitious... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#22

Hoosiers (1986)
91%

#22
Adjusted Score: 94998%
Critics Consensus: It may adhere to the sports underdog formula, but Hoosiers has been made with such loving craft, and features such excellent performances, that it's hard to resist.
Synopsis: Failed college coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) gets a chance at redemption when he is hired to direct the basketball... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#21

Hairspray (2007)
92%

#21
Adjusted Score: 100886%
Critics Consensus: Hairspray is an energetic, wholly entertaining musical romp; a fun Summer movie with plenty of heart. Its contagious songs will make you want to get up and start dancing.
Synopsis: In 1960s Baltimore, dance-loving teen Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) auditions for a spot on "The Corny Collins Show" and wins.... [More]
Directed By: Adam Shankman

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 98163%
Critics Consensus: The Spectacular Now is an adroit, sensitive film that avoids typical coming-of-age story trappings.
Synopsis: An innocent, bookish teenager (Shailene Woodley) begins dating the charming, freewheeling high-school senior (Miles Teller) who awoke on her lawn... [More]
Directed By: James Ponsoldt

#19

Election (1999)
92%

#19
Adjusted Score: 96765%
Critics Consensus: Election successfully combines dark humor and intelligent writing in this very witty and enjoyable film.
Synopsis: Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a well-liked high school government teacher, can't help but notice that successful student Tracy Flick (Reese... [More]
Directed By: Alexander Payne

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 95766%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an excellent ensemble cast, a precise feel for the 1970s, and a killer soundtrack, Dazed and Confused is a funny, affectionate, and clear-eyed look at high school life.
Synopsis: This coming-of-age film follows the mayhem of group of rowdy teenagers in Austin, Texas, celebrating the last day of high... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#17

Risky Business (1983)
92%

#17
Adjusted Score: 94783%
Critics Consensus: Featuring one of Tom Cruise's best early performances, Risky Business is a sharp, funny examination of teen angst that doesn't stop short of exploring dark themes.
Synopsis: Ecstatic when his parents leave on vacation for a few days, high school senior Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) cuts loose... [More]
Directed By: Paul Brickman

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 97804%
Critics Consensus: Rebel Without a Cause is a searing melodrama featuring keen insight into '50s juvenile attitude and James Dean's cool, iconic performance.
Synopsis: After moving to a new town, troublemaking teen Jim Stark (James Dean) is supposed to have a clean slate, although... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Ray

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 121989%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.
Synopsis: Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the... [More]
Directed By: Jon Watts

#14

House Party (1990)
93%

#14
Adjusted Score: 94400%
Critics Consensus: House Party is a light, entertaining teen comedy with an infectious energy.
Synopsis: Play's parents are out of town, and he's planning the house party to end all house parties. His best friend,... [More]
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin

#13

Heathers (1989)
93%

#13
Adjusted Score: 96137%
Critics Consensus: Dark, cynical, and subversive, Heathers gently applies a chainsaw to the conventions of the high school movie -- changing the game for teen comedies to follow.
Synopsis: Veronica (Winona Ryder) is part of the most popular clique at her high school, but she disapproves of the other... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lehmann

#12

Carrie (1976)
93%

#12
Adjusted Score: 98502%
Critics Consensus: Carrie is a horrifying look at supernatural powers, high school cruelty, and teen angst -- and it brings us one of the most memorable and disturbing prom scenes in history.
Synopsis: In this chilling adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel, withdrawn and sensitive teen Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) faces taunting from... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#11

Ghost World (2001)
93%

#11
Adjusted Score: 98441%
Critics Consensus: With acerbic wit, Terry Zwigoff fashions Daniel Clowes' graphic novel into an intelligent, comedic trip through deadpan teen angst.
Synopsis: The story of neo-cool Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) who, faced with graduation from high school, take a... [More]
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff

#10

Juno (2007)
94%

#10
Adjusted Score: 102741%
Critics Consensus: One of the brightest, funniest comedies of the year, Juno's smart script and direction are matched by assured performances in a coming-of-age story with a 21st century twist.
Synopsis: When precocious teen Juno MacGuff becomes pregnant, she chooses a failed rock star and his wife to adopt her unborn... [More]
Directed By: Jason Reitman

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 107824%
Critics Consensus: The Edge of Seventeen's sharp script -- and Hailee Steinfeld's outstanding lead performance -- make this more than just another coming-of-age dramedy.
Synopsis: Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Fremon Craig

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 100548%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential of all teen films, American Graffiti is a funny, nostalgic, and bittersweet look at a group of recent high school grads' last days of innocence.
Synopsis: On the last day of summer vacation in 1962, friends Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), Steve (Ronny Howard), Terry (Charles Martin Smith)... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 102792%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed, Back to the Future is a rousing time-travel adventure with an unforgettable spirit.
Synopsis: In this 1980s sci-fi classic, small-town California teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is thrown back into the '50s when... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#6

Booksmart (2019)
96%

#6
Adjusted Score: 120170%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy.
Synopsis: Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high... [More]
Directed By: Olivia Wilde

#5

Hairspray (1988)
98%

#5
Adjusted Score: 99326%
Critics Consensus: Hairspray is perhaps John Waters' most accessible film, and as such, it's a gently subversive slice of retro hilarity.
Synopsis: When Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake), an overweight teen, auditions for a spot on a popular teen dance show, she beats... [More]
Directed By: John Waters

#4

Say Anything... (1989)
98%

#4
Adjusted Score: 100403%
Critics Consensus: One of the definitive Generation X movies, Say Anything... is equally funny and heartfelt -- and it established John Cusack as an icon for left-of-center types everywhere.
Synopsis: In a charming, critically acclaimed tale of first love, Lloyd (John Cusack), an eternal optimist, seeks to capture the heart... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#3

Hoop Dreams (1994)
98%

#3
Adjusted Score: 101613%
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

#2

Lady Bird (2017)
99%

#2
Adjusted Score: 128986%
Critics Consensus: Lady Bird delivers fresh insights about the turmoil of adolescence -- and reveals writer-director Greta Gerwig as a fully formed filmmaking talent.
Synopsis: A teenager (Saoirse Ronan) navigates a loving but turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf) over the course of... [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 106085%
Critics Consensus: Making excellent use of its period and setting, Peter Bogdanovich's small town coming-of-age story is a sad but moving classic filled with impressive performances.
Synopsis: High school seniors and best friends, Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (Jeff Bridges), live in a dying Texas town. The... [More]
Directed By: Peter Bogdanovich

It’s our first streaming column of the month, which means subscription services Netflix and Amazon Prime have released a lot of new choices. As usual, we’ve narrowed them down to the most critically acclaimed, ranging from a few well-received smaller films and one big blockbuster this year to some trusty classics. Read on for the full list.


New on Netflix

 

The Wailing (2016) 99%

This South Korean horror drama centers on a small town reeling from a series of brutal murders after the arrival of a mysterious stranger.

Available now on: Netflix


Heathers (1989) 93%

Winona Ryder and Christian Slater star in this 1980s cult favorite about a high school girl who rebels against her popular clique in rather dark fashion.

Available now on: Netflix


The Jungle Book (2016) 94%

Neel Sethi stars in this live-action remake of the Disney adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s tale about a young boy raised by wolves who helps defend his jungle against a fearsome tiger.

Available now on: Netflix


National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) 90%

John Belushi stars in this iconic comedy that takes a ribald look at the alcohol-soaked underbelly of collegiate life, laying the groundwork for dozens of subsequent “snobs vs. slobs” comedies.

Available now on: Netflix


Beverly Hills Cop (1984) 83%

Eddie Murphy stars in this action comedy as Detroit transplant Axel Foley, a fast-talking detective sent on involuntary vacation who helps the Beverly Hills police take down the crime lord who killed his friend.

Available now on: Netflix


Waking Life (2001) 80%

Richard Linklater’s dazzling philosophical meditation features stunning rotoscoped visuals and several witty celebrity cameos.

Available now on: Netflix


Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce: Season 2 (2015)

Season 1 of this Bravo comedy, about a newly separated self-help author (Lisa Edelstein) trying to navigate life in the face of her impending divorce, is Certified Fresh, and Netflix now has season 2.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Amazon Prime

 

Annie Hall (1977) 97%

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton star in this Best Picture winner, the most Woody Allen-ish of Woody Allen comedies.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Stories We Tell (2012) 94%

Sarah Polley’s rapturously reviewed documentary portrait of her family and its secrets is a feature-length exploration of the nature of memory and storytelling.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


The Lobster (2015) 87%

Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz star in this Certified Fresh sci-fi dramedy about a man who must choose a mate or risk turning into a lobster.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


American Beauty (1999) 87%

Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening star in Sam Mendes’ multiple Oscar-winning drama, a dark, cynical portrait of suburban life as seen through the eyes of a forty-something father experiencing a midlife crisis.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


The One I Love (2014) 82%

Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star in this dramedy about a struggling married couple who retreat to a remote cabin to rekindle their love, only to discover the guest house holds a bizarre, mysterious secret.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Available to Purchase

Demon (2015) 92%

In this unnerving, sometimes darkly funny Polish import, a wedding in a remote country house is disrupted by a visit from an ancient dybbuk who seeks vengeance for crimes past.

Available now on: AmazoniTunes


Sully (2016) 85%

Tom Hanks stars in Robert Zemeckis’ drama about the real-life US Airways pilot who saved all 155 people aboard his plane when he was forced to attempt an emergency landing in the Hudson river.

Available now on: Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

For more than three decades, Bronx-born Abel Ferrara has been making movies defiantly on his own terms — tough, often lurid genre pieces that frequently explore the seamier underside of New York, all shot with a singular voice that remains uncompromising. Films like The Driller Killer, King of New York and Bad Lieutenant endure as cult classics, while his later work such as Mary and last year’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth continue to fascinate. He might also be the only person bold enough to publicly pick a fight with Werner Herzog. (They’ve since reconciled, so all is well.)

Fans of Ferrara’s particular brand of cinema are in for a treat this week, with Drafthouse films rereleasing his vigilante gem Ms. 45 to select theatres. The director’s 1981 feature is an unforgettable descent into darkest revenge, when a young woman — played by then 17-year-old Zoë Tamerlis, who would go on to pen Bad Lieutenant — takes up arms against mankind after being subjected to two brutal rapes.

Ferrara called in from Rome, where he’s currently in pre-production on a Pasolini biopic with Willem Dafoe, to reminisce about Ms. 45, the late, tragic Tamerlis, feminism, and that time his movie terrified a hardened grindhouse crowd into silence.


You don’t always talk about your old stuff, so what’s it like for you, looking back now on a film that’s 30-odd years old?

Abel Ferrara: Ms. 45 was one of those films where we were still kids, you know. We were still trying to make it in the world, and just going at it with a lot of wide-eyed wonder. We were very pre-jaded. I mean, we had to convince ourselves that we were making a film that was even gonna be seen in theaters. But we kinda knew it. I think Ms. 45 was the first film where we went, “Jesus Christ, people are actually gonna make money from this — we’d better f-cking concentrate here. People are actually gonna buy tickets, so it might be a good idea to kinda focus,” you know what I mean. It’s a tough thing, with Zoë, you know. [Tamerlis Lund passed away in 1997] The movie is her, and embodies her. The beautiful thing about a film is that it captures one moment in time; and that film captures her as a 17-year-old Columbia student, you know– not on hard drugs, not drinking, with a different kind of take on life. She was a beautiful kid, you know, with the whole world in front of her.

Does it ever surprise you that your early films, like this and Driller Killer, continue to live on like they do?

If you do what we do, man, you’re not doing it for f-cking what? It’s not a combustible deal, you know what I mean? You put your sh-t out there. You’re doing it to last. You’re doing it for people to see today, tomorrow, 400 years from tomorrow, you know. Countless eons. Putting the movies back into theaters, that’s pretty cool. I was living in Brooklyn and I started to see those theaters popping up, Nitehawk and all those things. Put it this way: the tradition of the cinema is a communal effort, in a communal viewing situation, and seeing deep into the eyes of the players, you know? You watch a stage performance, okay, you’re getting it because you’re in the same physical space as the actor; but if you see it in a movie, you’re getting it because his eyes are the size of a three-story building. The eyes are the windows to the soul, man, and you’re seeing into that. It’s a little tough to see when you’re standing in a subway watching it on your iPhone. Although, I’m as guilty of watching movies that way as anybody else — and passing judgement on films. Like, “Oh, I saw that film, yeah.” I saw it between stops, freeze-framing the naked chicks and going back and forth, blah blah blah, seeing it over four days, that kind of shit. “Yeah, I saw your film, man.” I mean, is that really seeing a film? But then, a film’s gotta hold up, you know; that’s just the way it is.

I can’t wait to see this on a big screen. Looking at Ms. 45 now, it feels raw to watch, especially when — for lack of a better term — “cult movie” sensibilities have gone mainstream through people like Quentin Tarantino.

Quentin did that by himself? [Laughs]

Not at all, no. He popularized it, I mean. If you look at stuff like Kill Bill and Death Proof, they’re kinda like comic-book female vengeance fantasies. Do you think genre films have lost some context in being assimilated by the mainstream?

That’s a tough question. Ms. 45 has an element of the time and the period, but it’s all a passion, you know. It’s a passion for the real deal. I mean, you grow up on films like The Battle of Algiers and Salò and Sam Fuller, you know — I could go down the list — there’s a passion for a certain kind of film. That had better not be gone. I mean, I don’t know — the grittiness of it meaning what?

I mean, I’m not singling out Quentin for anything in particular.

[Laughs] Aha! I mean, you like Quentin, right?

Yeah, I do. I’m not trying to pick a fight between you and him or anything.

[Laughs] No, Quentin’s my homeboy! I ain’t gonna fight with Quentin.

No, no I like his stuff. I guess what I’m saying is that in a lot of his films — and there are raw elements, to be sure — the vengeance or whatever is in part quotation, whereas you see something like Ms. 45 and, as you say, you’re thinking, “Holy sh-t, this is the real deal.” It’s a window into that time.

Yeah, I know. But it’s still a movie, you know? It’s a movie-movie, man. Nobody’s raping a chick, she went to Columbia University. It’s a movie. As filmmakers, it’s a style we had at the time, you know. I mean, Quentin is what Quentin is, you know, and that’s cool. That’s his thing and you gotta see it on that side. I mean, you’re not gonna knock Buster Keaton for slapstick comedies, you know, because he’s a brilliant filmmaker. Is that the realism of Breathless? No.

Yeah, no I get you. Let’s move on shall we?

[Laughs]

There’s a tendency sometimes to see movies in which women exact revenge as empowering or “feminist,” but you’ve said in the past that you don’t see Ms. 45 as a feminist movie. Do you still see it that way?

I think so. I saw the movie once in Times Square. It was playing with this film about the dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin. I mean, the audience, it might as well have been Riker’s Island watching the film. This is like the real deal, the Manhattan that’s gone — getting high, drug deals, shots going off in the theater, place packed, Friday night. They show the movies for two weeks, everybody knows the lines in the theater. So I’m watching it, and we brought an investor, a white guy, and we couldn’t find him — he’s sitting in the middle of this non-white audience with a suit and tie. [Laughs] You can imagine that. We looked like Puerto Ricans at that time; we’re sitting in the corner, watching the f-cking movie. They showed Idi Amin first [1981’s exploitation movie, Rise and Fall of Idi Amin], it started off — and this was a real cool movie, man, before Forest Whitaker. It was way back. Some English guys made this movie. It was what you’re talking about. Real deal. You didn’t know if this was a documentary or what. And so then he started killing people. First he killed a priest. Then he killed another guy. Then he killed some white guys. And the audience is off the hook freakin’, man. They’re diggin’ it. And then they started killin’ black guys, and more black guys, and that audience was fever pitched out, okay.

Movie ends, up comes Ms. 45. They rape her, the first time — it’s like a comedy, okay. This is like, “Oh sh-t, it’s a rape, they’re raping a young… ” No — it’s like, “Yeah, man!” They were so into raping this chick that I was embarrassed to be there. I was mortified. I not only directed it, I acted in it. I’m raping her. [Ferrara himself plays “First rapist.”] You can just imagine. Then the second [rape], they do it even more. The audience is now exhilarated. Then she starts shooting guys, and this audience — as loud as they got for Idi Amin, they were quiet. When she blasts that dude between the legs with that gun, I’m telling you bro — it was like, I mean, I was stunned. Anyway, I forget what the question was.

Whatever it was, that was a better answer.

[Laughs]

I was saying you didn’t see it as a feminist movie. I think you kind of answered it.

Yeah, I mean, how do I see it? I grew up through the feminist movement, you know what I mean, I was there for the whole thing. And “feminist” has different kind of connotations for me. The whole women’s liberation movement was something very real to me and the girls I was with, and being in university at the time, and all that. Zoë was like 10, 12 years younger than me or whatever, so it had a whole different meaning to her. Zoë was the ultimate feminist, you know, and she just sort of saw it in a different way. She’d talk all day and night about the feminism in this movie. I mean, listen, it was written by a guy, it was directed by a guy, but it was acted by her. The woman’s side of this movie is right there in the person who’s playing it.

Did Zoë shape the way the film was made?

How could she not? I mean, she’s in every shot of the film, you know.

How did you know that Zoë was the one for this? I know she’d missed out one of the leads in [Allan Moyle’s] Times Square, and that’s how she first came to your attention.

Yeah, she came in third. [Laughs] You know, it’s a thing that I have. It’s just something, I suppose it’s the gift of being a filmmaker. But I don’t think it takes much of a gift to look at that girl and say, “Wow, this is somebody,” you know what I mean? I mean, in the beginning maybe we were knocked out ’cause she was 17 and had the big lips and the beautiful body and all that, but then you go beyond that. There was something else about this girl. You didn’t have to spend much time with her to get it, you know? I mean, come on, the kid was like 16 or 17 at the time; she was an awesome chick. This was the chick who wrote Bad Lieutenant, you know, and she acted those scenes in that. You’re talking about a real talent. What can I say? You don’t have to be Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to figure it out.

I could never see her playing the role she was up for in Times Square, looking back.

Well, she’s in Times Square, you know. She’s running around with one of those trash bags on her.

Oh she is? She’s an extra?

Yeah, look for her. She’s got that garbage bag on her. She said to me, “You know, I made more money working two nights on that film than I’m making on your film.” [Laughs]

I’ll have to go back and have a look now. So, you’re shooting the Pasolini movie at the moment?

Yeah, I start in January. It’s 35 years later and no one knows what happened to the guy, you know. So it’s like the death of a poet. I adore Pasolini. The guy was a painter, a songwriter, a novelist, a journalist, a f-cking political activist, you know; a great actor, on top of being a great filmmaker. So you try and bring him to a human level, you know. Willem’s [Dafoe] gotta play him, so you gotta bring him down to a f-king human place. I told him, “You better bring your crown of thorns from the Scorsese film.” [Laughs]

There are a bunch of theories about Pasolini’s death; are you going to explore any of that?

Well you know, I gotta take it on — what am I gonna do? All of a sudden we’ve gotten into being detectives here, about what happened in that hotel room, you know? Pasolini said himself, when he would investigate the bombings in the train station [Pasolini collaborated on a documentary about the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombings in Milan, originally attributed to anarchists], he said, “I’m gonna tell the truth, but I’m not a detective, I’m doing it as an artist.” The death of Pasolini? Yeah. Some gay guy gets killed in an alley somewhere, hey, that’s one thing; but it’s also the death of a poet. It’s the end of an era. A guy died, and somebody killed him.

Alright Abel, I’m gonna let you go. Good luck with Pasolini.

Thanks man. Keep torturing the world.

[Laughs] We will if you will.


Ms. 45 opens in New York and Austin this week, and in Los Angeles the following week. For more info on the Alama Drafthouse screenings, visit their site here.


Juno Temple’s star is definitely on the rise. The daughter of punk filmmaker Julien Temple, the 22-year-old English-born actress began her career with supporting roles in movies like Notes on a Scandal, Atonement, and St. Trinian’s — and later delivered a lead performance in Jordan Scott’s excellent, unfairly maligned boarding school drama, Cracks. She’ll soon headline several films including William Friedkin’s Killer Joe, Jonas Akerlund’s Small Apartments and the long-percolating lesbian werewolf project Jack and Diane, in addition to starring as a “street smart Gotham girl” in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises — a role that has fans speculating could be anything from Selina Kyle’s sidekick Holly Robinson to Harley Quinn to a female Robin.

In the meantime, Temple appears in this week’s Dirty Girl, an autobiographical comedy-drama from debut director Abe Sylvia. Set in the strange world of Oklahoma in 1987, the film follows the unlikely adventure of two misfit high schoolers — Temple’s trashy, promiscuous Danielle and Jeremy Dozier’s overweight, closeted Clarke — as they bust out of town and head for the Californian coast, a posse of angry and/or confused parents desperately on their trail. Which means Temple gets to wear anachronistic hot pants, flip the bird to religious zealots and strip to Sheena Easton’s “Strut” — things we’re pretty sure won’t be called upon for her employment in Gotham City. We caught up with Temple recently to chat about Dirty Girl, but first, she took a few moments to run through her all-time five favorite films.

 


Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973; 98% Tomatometer)

Badlands, I think is one of the best love stories of all time. I think it’s beautifully shot and I think Sissy Spacek’s flawless in it. I watched that movie and — you know when your hair stands up on your body and you can’t control it? — that movie really affected me quite deeply, and I cried at the end. I based a character that I did last year in this movie called Killer Joe on Sissy Spacek in that movie. It’s a big inspiration for me. I think it’s a flawless movie.

True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993; 91% Tomatometer)

True Romance, again… a romance at heart, a young couple on the run doing crazy stuff. I think Alabama is one of the coolest characters of all time. I love the script — I think it’s so dynamic.

Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1988; 95% Tomatometer)

Heathers — again, a kind of weird romance story and a dark tale. I love the dialogue in that movie. I probably shouldn’t quote it.

Please do.

“F–k me gently with a chainsaw.” [Laughs] But my favorite is, “You’re such a pillow case.” It’s so good — it’s like the worst insult ever but so funny. It’s just so funny and so gritty and I love the performances in it, and I think it has one of the best endings of all time.

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten (Julien Temple, 2007; 89% Tomatometer)

Because I think it’s one of my dad’s masterpieces, and Joe Strummer was someone who was a big part of my upbringing and was one of my dad’s best friends. I have such great memories of hanging out with the two of them. It’s something that means a lot to me. I really think my dad put his heart and soul into that film and that’s the kind of film-making I wanna do. No, I don’t wanna direct. I wanna act.

Did you learn from your dad, growing up around sets?

Yeah. I did. I mean, I learned a lot. He helped me with a lot of tough decisions at times and, you know, he’s helped me with a lot of auditions, too. I really hope I get to do a movie with him one day, and he gets to direct me in a film. I would love that beyond words.

I’d love to see him do another narrative feature. Absolute Beginners is kind of great.

I agree. Earth Girls Are Easy is probably my number six on this list. [Laughs]

Beauty and the Beast (La belle et la bête) (Jean Cocteau, 1946; 95% Tomatometer)

La belle et la bête by Jean Cocteau. It’s the movie that made me want to be an actress. I was four-years-old and my dad had it on laser disc. I was being annoying and bratty or whatever, I was a child, and my dad said, “Hey, watch this movie.” This is when we lived in LA and we had this great giant striped couch and I was wearing — I remember this so well — this corduroy dress with red trim, and I lay there and started watching it. I had a really vivid imagination as a child but I had never seen anything like this in my life. Do you remember the scene where she faints and the Beast carries her and he has that incredible cloak that looks like it is actually the night sky? It’s insane. And he carries her and all the arms — we had these arms in our house, these giant arms that hold the candles — all the arms move and he’s carrying her and walks into her bedroom, and as he goes through the door with her, her clothes go from rags to riches. I remember that being the specific scene where I was like, “I wanna do that. How does that happen? I wanna be a part of that.” That was the day I knew I wanted to be an actress. Also, the way that the Beast smokes, when he looks at her and his skin smokes; and when he takes off the glove and his hand’s just smoking. The whole ending… it’s this weird, twisted ending.

Next, Temple chats about her role in this week’s Dirty Girl, and how an English private school girl gets into character as a mid-West American teen.

 

RT: It’s a curious character, this one. How did you end up being cast for the movie?

Juno Temple: I got sent the script by my agent and I read it and of course I wanted to audition for it — I wanted the part immediately. I arrived at my audition and I was wearing cut-off denim hot pants, biker boots, ripped band t-shirt, a biker jacket that I’d sliced the sleeves off of, had a nose piercing and my dreadlocked hair that I hadn’t brushed in three weeks and I had a sh-tload of jewelry.

This was all for character?

No, it’s kind of the way I dress. I’m a big fan of ’90s grunge — the grungier the better. So I went in and did my thing, then got a phone call from my agent saying “They loved your audition, but they want you to come back in and take out the nose ring and brush your hair.” So I went back in looking slightly tidier.

Begrudgingly so?

[Laughs] I remember I was furious ’cause I had a 45-minute audition and I came out and my nose had closed. My ex boyfriend had to re-pierce my nose on the way home, and my nose was bleeding. [Laughs] It got re-pierced and it was back in for a while. Then I got a call back to come in and chemistry read with Jeremy [Dozier] and it was like an instant click. We just got on immediately in a way that was quite overwhelming.

The film immediately establishes that your character’s in control — at least in the sexual sense. Was that something that appealed to you?

Yeah, what attracted me was the journey she goes on, what she goes through — because she has this crazy arc. I liked the fiery, outrageous personality that she has in the beginning. She has attitude and she doesn’t care what people think. She’s gonna speak her mind and sometimes it pisses people off. But she’s very misunderstood, too — she’s misunderstood by her family, by her school; boys use her for sex and that’s all they care about. She doesn’t have any friends. Then Clarke comes into her life and I think fate brings them together. I’m a strong believer in that fate is real, but it only gets you so far — then you have to make the choice to do something. And so they do: they continue this incredible friendship and they really bring each other out of their shells. They really open each others’ eyes. I think that’s a great example of a true friendship, when you see the world through somebody else’s eyes and you like looking at the world that way. They do that for one another. I think the moral of the story is don’t judge a book by its cover, which I think is great when you look at all the sh-t that’s going on in schools — with the bullying and stuff. You know, what better than to say, “Some people aren’t gonna like you or take you for what you are, but some people will — and they’re gonna change your life.” They’re the people you should be hanging out with.

I’m guessing high school in Oklahoma is not the way you grew up–

[Laughs] Oh, I went to an English boarding school!

So how do you become this teenager in the mid West in 1987?

I talked to the director a lot about the kids in his school — ’cause it’s his story and nobody knows it better than him. We talked a lot about it and figured out how she’s gonna be. She’s an ’80s character but she also looks very ’70s, so she doesn’t quite fit into the world — she’s got hand-me-downs from her mom, because they can’t afford new clothes. So that makes her even more of a misfit. I love that she’s this kind of Cherie Currie character in this uptight Oklahoma high school — she really looks like she sticks out like a sore thumb. I loved that, the make-up and everything and the Farrah Fawcett bangs. I thought that was cool having her different to everyone else, because everyone notices her and are like, “Who the f–k is that?” So that was another thing, the costumes. And getting into the music — because like I said, I’m a ’90s grunge fan, so that really wasn’t my music scene, but once you listen to it and get into the idea of playing that character, it was brilliant.

So now you’re a fan of Melissa Manchester?

She’s extraordinary.

How was it singing her song while she played behind you on piano?

I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life. Singing A cappella with her playing piano behind me. I was so nervous. I’m shaking [Laughs] You can totally see it. She was so kind afterwards. She was so lovely to me and Jeremy. It was pretty cool to be singing Melissa Manchester’s power ballad that just blew a bunch of peoples’ minds in the ’80s and she’s there playing piano while you do it… it was a trip.

Last question. I’m sure nobody’s asked you about this–

The Dark Knight? Oh no, you’re not gonna ask about it. Okay. Because everyone’s been asking and I’m not allowed to talk about it.

I just have one question: Is it true that you’re playing The Penguin?

Obviously! I mean — look at me. [Laughs]


Dirty Girl is in select theaters this week.


As the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts get ready to rumble at the Super Bowl on Sunday, Hollywood goes into counterprogramming mode and targets female moviegoers with a pair of new releases.

Those looking for big names will get to laugh with the new comedy "Because I Said So" while those in the mood for a scare get the haunted house flick "The Messengers." Overall, it should be a low scoring game at North American multiplexes this weekend.

Diane Keaton leaves behind the men and anchors her own comedy in "Because I Said So" playing an overbearing mother trying to find the right man for her youngest daughter. Directed by Michael Lehmann ("Heathers," "40 Days and 40 Nights"), the PG-13 film boasts some added girlpower in the cast with Mandy Moore, Piper Perabo, and Lauren Graham playing the daughters. The Universal release will undoubtedly skew heavily female and heavily Caucasian, but the acting ensemble could lead to a broad age range with mature women drawn in by Keaton’s motherly problems and young women connecting with the sisters. Aside from Mother’s Day weekend, the Super Bowl frame could indeed be the best time to launch a film like this as male interest will be low.

In a world where Meryl Streep can open "The Devil Wears Prada" to $27.5M, Jane Fonda can drive "Monster-in-Law" to a $23.1M debut, and Helen Mirren keeps bringing in audiences month after month with "The Queen," there certainly is box office gold with Hollywood’s elder stateswomen. Whether Keaton can join the ranks with this particular vehicle might be a different story. The studio has been pushing "Because" with great energy, but poor reviews could prompt many to just wait for the DVD. Starpower should help drive women of different ages to the box office and away from football and in a weak marketplace, that may be enough to reach the top spot. Opening in 2,526 theaters, "Because I Said So" might debut with around $14M.


Diane Keaton in "Because I Said So."

Also opening on Friday is "The Messengers," the fourth horror film in as many weeks to hit multiplexes. The PG-13 film directed by the Hong Kong-born Pang brothers tells the story of a family that moves into a run-down old house only to find creepy forces at play. Audiences have rejected every fright flick Hollywood has offered since October and "The Messengers" does not seem to bring anything new and exciting to the table to change things. Teens and young adults seem to be the core audience and with the big game in Miami commanding a lot of attention from the boys, Sony is hoping that teenage girls will be up for a scare. Marketing has been textbook and identical to every other horror pic. The starpower battle will be lost against "Because" so this flick will have to cater to those young ladies who do not want to be reminded of how meddlesome mothers can be. "The Messengers" opens in 2,528 theaters and could scare up around $12M for the weekend.


Kristen Stewart gets a message in "The Messengers."

Among holdovers, the spoof comedy "Epic Movie" may have won last weekend’s box office derby beating fellow freshman "Smokin’ Aces," but the R-rated action pic has taken over at number one each day during the mid-week period as "Epic" fans have gone back to class. The Fox comedy should see the larger drop as word-of-mouth will be nonexistent given its pathetic 3% score on RottenTomatoes.com which makes it the odds-on favorite so far for next year’s Razzie Awards. A 50% fall would leave "Epic Movie" with about $9M and a ten-day cume of $30M.

"Smokin’ Aces" has held up better during the week and newcomers won’t threaten its audience of young men that much. A 45% drop would give the Universal release around $8M for the weekend and a total of $27M after ten days.

The blockbuster "Night at the Museum" will enjoy yet another weekend when no kid movies enter the marketplace. That should lead to a small drop, possibly 25%, giving the Ben Stiller pic roughly $7M for the frame pushing the cume to an amazing $225M.

LAST YEAR: Thrills ruled the box office as the scary pic "When a Stranger Calls" opened at number one with a strong $21.6M to easily lead the frame. Sony found its way to $47.9M. Fox’s "Big Momma’s House 2" dropped a notch to second with $13.6M in its second weekend while the kidpic "Nanny McPhee" finished in third with $9.8M. "Brokeback Mountain" climbed to the highest position of its entire run coming in fourth place with $6M. Rounding out the top five was the animated hit "Hoodwinked" with $5.3M. Focus opened its new cross-cultural romantic comedy "Something New" in seventh place with a mild $4.9M on its way to only $11.5M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Internet rumors of a sequel to the cult hit "Heathers" have thrived, thanks in no small part to Winona Ryder‘s public interest in reviving the franchise. But the film’s director, Michael Lehmann, thinks we should let it go.

"I never really saw it as a realistic possibility," Lehmann said. "It’s something that Winona talked about for years. She always wanted to do it and Dan [Waters] and I kind of chuckle and say, ‘Well, what would that movie be? How do you make a sequel to a movie like that?’"

That said, they entered a casual form of development some time ago. "There was a point at which we all talked about setting it in Washington, D.C. This was a while ago, because we felt that that’s a territory where people like that thrive. But I don’t know. I always feel like where do you go? I don’t think just because a movie is good or people like it means you need to make a sequel to it."

Lehmann expects to continue fielding those questions though, as Ryder is currently starring in the Waters- directed feature "Sex and Death 101." "Winona’s in Dan’s movie and I’ve seen footage of it. I haven’t seen the cut yet, I’ve read the script and it’s a really interesting piece. It should be really good so that may revive interest in it."

In this week’s Ketchup, we have more guessing games regarding who will be Batman’s other foe in "The Dark Knight," music and pics from the "Transformers" movie, and "Evan Almighty"’s rapidly ascending budget, which even the power of God may not be enough to save.

Also, a beloved "Harry Potter" character does a disappearing act, and Orlando Bloom may not return for a fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean." Read on for more.

This Week’s Most Popular News:

Who’s Playing Two-Face in "Batman" Sequel?

Christopher Nolan has confirmed Two-Face will be one of the villains in "The Dark Knight," his follow-up to "Batman Begins," and IGN FilmForce is trying to determine who will play the role.

"Transformers" Music, Optimus Prime Headshot, and More Set Photos Emerge
Cinematical has a nice roundup of various "Transformers"-related happenings from around the web, including news on the theme song, a first look at Optimus Prime’s head, and a photo from the set!

Steve Carell’s "Evan Almighty" — At $225M, An Unholy Mess?

Few doubt that Steve Carell is an outsized comic talent. But the Los Angeles Times is suggesting that his current project, "Evan Almighty," is getting a reputation for its outsized budget, one that could ultimately run as high as $225 million, which would make it the costliest comedy of all time.

"Harry Potter" Sleight-Of-Hand: Dobby’s Disappearing Act

Looks like someone’s cast a nasty disappearing spell (written outum scripto!) on "Harry Potter" creature Dobby, since the CGI-powered timid house elf won’t be seen in "Order of the Phoenix."

Bloom Out For "Pirates 4?

Is Will Turner, Orlando Bloom’s character in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, marked for death? According to WENN (via Cinescape), the script for the fourth "Pirates" movie is in the works, and it may sanction the demise of Jack Sparrow’s young sidekick.

Update: The rumors about Orlando Bloom have been highly exaggerated.


"And for your next miracle, you will make a pissed-off studio happy."

In Other News:

  • Peter Berg is set to direct the Will Smith superhero film "Tonight, He Comes," becoming the project’s fourth director.
  • Amber Tamblyn will star in the indie thriller "Blackout," about three people trapped in a hospital elevator that turns into a harrowing experience.
  • Julia Roberts is set to star in "Eat, Pray, Love," based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of the same name.
  • James Cameron will co-write a produce "James Cameron’s Sanctum," a live-action drama about a father and son deep-sea diving team that will be filmed in high-definition 3-D. Gary Johnstone will direct the movie for Rogue Pictures.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly will join Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s adaptation of "Sweeney Todd," the musical thriller set in Victorian England.
  • Filmimg for the movie "Dallas" has been put on hold as the entire cast, except for John Travolta as J.R. Ewing, is being replaced.
  • Fox 2000 has acquired Kim Barker’s script "All About Steve," with Sandra Bullock slated to star in and produce the film.
  • Genius Products, the home video subsidiary of the Weinstein Co., has acquired North American rights to "Dirty Sanchez: The Movie," AKA the Welsh version of "Jackass."
  • Finally, New Line Cinema acquired film rights to "Snitch," a script inspired by true events detailed in a PBS "Frontline" documentary.

Still on board for "Dallas."

One of the 1980s’ true cult classics is Daniel Waters‘ "Heathers," and now comes word that the screenwriter and his leading lady, Winona Ryder, might be interested in suiting up for another dish of brazen black comedy.

From EW and JoBlo’s: "According to the "Deal Report" in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, Winona Ryder and writer/director Daniel Waters are cooking up a sequel to HEATHERS, that dark gem released during the otherwise neon year of 1989. Says Winona, "There’s Heathers in the real world! We have to keep going!"

That’s all the news we have so far. Waters and Ryder recently reunited to create "Sex and Death 101," which will hit theaters early next year.

So yeah, a "Heathers" sequel. Thoughts from the Comment Brigade?