graduation movies

After a chapter of going out more than you should, asking questions you never would and somehow getting a degree in the process, it seems the world has come full-circle and you’re back at square one after graduating. Whether you’re at home with your parents or on your own in a new city, these times can feel overwhelming and also a bit lonely.

But amidst the struggles and existential crises, find solace in that you finally have time to tick off some must-see films from your list. Don’t know where to start? We got you. Here are five films that every graduate should watch.

1. American Honey
Andrea Arnold’s blistering road trip odyssey focuses on Starr (played by newcomer Sasha Lane) as she joins a mag crew across the American Mid West. Kind of like Boyhood with a better soundtrack, American Honey offers some beautifully filmed moments of growing up as a young woman that you’re sure to feel straight in your loins.

Shia LeBeouf is surprisingly convincing, and Riley Keough is haunting and empowering as the Queen Bee of the whole lopsided road trip affair. Come for the empowering journey of self-discovery, stay for the epic eclectic soundtrack.

2. The Graduate
Why search too far when the best option is right in front of you? The all-timer that is The Graduate is one of those glorious films that you go into with almightily high expectations, and you can rest assured that they shall be met. A young Dustin Hoffman plays bumbling graduate Benjamin Braddock, at a loss after finishing college. Enter Mrs Robinson, an affair that shouldn’t be, a runaway bride and a whole lot of Simon & Garfunkel, and you’ve got your next classic.

The Graduate inspired a generation of movies in more ways than one, from the mannerisms of the awkward male lead to its evocative acoustic score. Plus, we dare you to find a more iconic final shot – every insecurity, worry, concern and excitement of being young lays bare and will stay with you forever.

3. Rushmore

Taking a step way back both onscreen and off, Rushmore is one of Wes Anderson’s very first movies. 15-year-old Max Fischer is painfully eccentric as he navigates the trials and tribulations at his private school, Rushmore Academy. Featuring a breakout role for Jason Schwartzman and an ever pleasing supporting character from Bill Murray, Rushmore offers everything we’ve grown to love about Wes Anderson, while providing a comforting throwback to younger and more embarrassingly awkward school days – always a welcome watch.

4. Victoria
As your whole life opens itself up in front of you, the possibilities are endless and it’s easy to feel like the world is just waiting to swallow you up. That feeling of dizziness and intensity, in having to step up as an adult while still finding your feet, is everything that Victoria is about. The German drama follows Spanish newcomer Victoria (played by the captivating Laia Costa) as she gets wrapped up into a thrilling night on the run in Berlin – all to the throbbing electronic soundtrack that you’d expect, and adore.

The whole film is shot in one take – not just edited to look that way, but actually shot in one take, into the early hours in the heart of Germany. It’s a suffocating and exciting watch which asks what it’s like to feel completely foreign, and how to step up under pressure when you least expect it.

5. Everybody Wants Some!!
You can always count on Richard Linklater to have a good time. The Before Sunrise and Boyhood director takes a break from directing struggling marriages to go back to college, and life on the baseball team specifically. Everybody Wants Some!! is just so. much. fun. Following the baseball team across the weekend before term begins, what should feel like a dumb, mindless sports flick actually ends up being a good natured, funny and truly moving film about being young, fitting in, and chasing after every bit of fun that you can. If you need even more reasons to watch this movie, find them here.

With Glee star Blake Jenner and Teen Wolf heartthrob Tyler Hoechlin, it’s a film that thrives from its lack of obviously star-studded faces, instead achieving likeability through the ensemble cast’s chemistry, and again, through an infectious feel good soundtrack. Watch it once for the story, then again and again for the good times.


Even if your life still feels a bit uncertain – at least you won’t have to ask, ‘what should I watch tonight?’. You’re welcome.

Follow Ella on Twitter: @Ella_Kemp

Illustration: Zsalto