5 movies every senior should watch before graduation


Graduation is an integral part of growing up. It’s arguably one of the biggest milestones in life and a defining transition from dependence to independence.  But with the coronavirus, comes many casualties of senior activities from Prom to the last pep rally, but graduation is hitting the hardest. It’s a famous ceremony, where the hard work you’ve done for the last 13 years of school has finally paid off. All of the hours studying, tears shed over projects, late afternoons and nights spent performing extracurriculars, all of that into a infamous ceremony where you are paraded in front of your loved ones. Now, all of that is dwindled down to a virtual county-wide ceremony. So, to try and reclaim some of that experience, live vicariously through the characters from these five movies about the classic high school and graduation experience.


1. Lady Bird (2017)

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Available on: Amazon Video

Why You Should Watch It: Sairose Ronan plays a fascinating role as Lady Bird, whose spit-fire, “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude you can’t help but admire. Senior and creator of a movie critiquing podcast, Kobey Davenport notes, “Most movies for high schoolers are really cheesy, but this is made in a very meaningful way.” Her strained relationship with her mom can make almost anyone see reflections of their own fights at home, but it’s the scenes as she leaves for the airport that really hit home. It’s a reminder that as seniors leave, their parents also lose a child and a staple in the home, so don’t be too eager to rub it in their faces how much you want to leave.  It is a beautifully, deep movie that is so incredibly real. “There’s a huge difference between the feel of this movie and any other high school movie,” concludes Davenport.

2. Booksmart (2019)

Directed by: Olivia Wilde

Available on: Hulu

Why you should watch it: 

Booksmart is incredibly relatable for PHS students. The premise of the movie is that Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever have focused entirely on getting into a good college, Yale and Columbia prospectively, and as a result did not participate in anything outside of extracurriculars and studying. No get-togethers, no games, no nothing, all because of school. When college decision day comes out and the duo realize that every other student is going to a top 20 college, they make it their mission to go out strong and make enough high school memories over the course of one night. Not only is this movie a great portrayal of female friendship, but it also sends a much needed message that everyone needs to live a little. It’s a wild watch!

3. High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008)

Directed by: Kenny Ortega 

Available: Hulu and Amazon 

Why you should watch it: 

Nothing will make you more nostalgic than watching High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Although high school may not actually be like High School Musical movies, it’s a feel good movie that will definitely make you want to send your friends a quick text to check up on them. Eleanor Jensen, senior and avid High School Music watcher, comments “[High School Musical Three] shows the importance of moving on, but also appreciating the past.” It’s the perfect conclusion as you watch your favorite childhood characters grow up.  Also, singing along to all the classic soundtracks is a great way to spend an afternoon. 

4. Say Anything (1989)

Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Available on: Amazon

Why you should watch it:

 Unlike many other high school movies, the story in Say Anything actually begins with a high school graduation ceremony. While getting their diplomas, popular but average student Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) sets his sights on dating the pretty class valedictorian, Diane Court (Ione Skye), who can’t remember him at the school they went to together. Their courtship is one of the great high school movie romances — full of realistic uncertainty, longing, intimacy, pain, and regret.  Diane realizes that she didn’t really know her classmates, while indecisive Lloyd waited till school ended before making his move. Waiting until too late is a common theme among high schoolers, but Say Anything shows just what happens when you take advantage of the little time that’s left.  The future after high school is both scary and uncertain, and Diane and Lloyd try to navigate it together and apart. 

5. Superbad (2007)

Directed by: Greg Mottola

Available on: Hulu and Amazon

Why you should watch it:

Graduation and the end of high school is a very emotional time, but this movie will have you in stitches. The outfits have a very “2007’s” feel, but the jokes and one liners are timeless. It’s an epic plot that has no realism to it, but the humor and relationships between best friends add depth by the end of the movie for great development. Best friends Seth and Evan (Hill and Cera) are forced with the scary reality that high school is ending and they’ll eventually have to leave each other. “Even with multiple viewings, the jokes still make me laugh, but this doesn’t undermine the more emotional parts of the story,” adds Davenport, “I think this story will really resonate with seniors right now.”