10 Films Every Teen Should Watch: An Alternate List

We recently came across an old list compiled by the British Film Institute, naming 50 films that every teenager should see by the age of 14. We can’t argue with many of their picks — classics like E.T., The Wizard of Oz, and others feel like true essentials. Still, we couldn’t help but notice a number of movies we have a hard time imagining most young teenagers watching of their own free will. We wanted to come up with a few alternatives to BFI’s picks and include some films we were surprised didn’t make the final cut, and others that weren’t around in 2005 (with the 14-year age in the back of our minds). Some of our choices are classics, others act as a gateway to other selections in that genre, and the rest are just damn good. These types of lists are all subjective, so we want to hear your picks as well. What would you add to our essential teen watch list? Share below in the comments section.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

We were surprised not to see Peter Jackson’s first installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy on BFI’s list, but we suppose the “fantasy” vote went to Star Wars. We’d definitely encourage teens to watch Jackson’s epic adventure tale, which changed the face of the fantasy genre as we know it. Once upon a time, kids who played D&D weren’t exactly considered popular. Today, porn stars are playing it, and geekdom has gone mainstream. Fantasy is no longer a genre relegated to the bottom of the barrel. The 2001 Tolkien adaptation is a universal tale and all-encompassing story containing multiple dualities: love and loss, hope and fear, and so on. It doesn’t sugarcoat things either, treating its audience with the know-how to process emotions accordingly and scale the events in their own way. Teens can identify with the narrative involving friendships being forged while struggling for a shared goal or belief. Middle-earth is an entirely believable setting, and the film’s mythology seems to evolve naturally out of a definite history. LOTR is pure enchantment, and like Star Wars, leaves audiences in awe at the magic of cinema.