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Attack the Block
Photograph: StudioCanal

The best teen movies to stream on Netflix in the UK

From the 'Twilight' saga to 'Booksmart,' these are the best teen-focused flicks on British Netflix right now

Written by
Andy Kryza
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No self-respecting adult really wants to relive their teens, but the awkward, angsty and often hilarious years of adolescent pay dividents in the cinematic world, drawing us in to cringey high-school comedies, teen romances and angsty young adult dramas. And with school out for summer, now is the perfect time to queue up some of the best teen-centric movies on Netflix.

The streamer has teen-focused movies for every taste. Whether you're drawn to the awkward years of middle school or crave a glittery vampire romance, a gory ensemble slasher or a tender LGBTQ coming-of age drama, these 16 films should hit the spot.

Recommended: the best movies streaming on Netflix right now

The Half of It (2020)
Photograph: KC Bailey/Netflix

1. The Half of It (2020)

Director Alice Wu

Cast Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Alexxis Lemire

When straight-A student Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is asked by the school jock, Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) to help him write love letters to his crush Aster (Alexxis Lemire), she accepts. Not only does she need the money, she harbours a secret: she has a crush on Aster, too. Thus begins a queer take on this classic teen romance trope, and which results in a tender, funny and smart teen (semi) romantic comedy.

Attack the Block (2011)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Director: Joe Cornish

Cast: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost

Don’t let the 15 rating scare you off. Attack the Block is very much a teen movie: a gleefully irreverent alien-invasion adventure positioning a group of kids from a south London estate as foul-mouthed successors to the Goonies. There’s a fair share of swears and gore, but there’s also tons of heart to balance things out… plus when’s the last time you met a 15-year-old who didn’t swear like a sailor? Amid the considerable excitement, you can actually pinpoint the moment John Boyega becomes a movie star – it’s when he’s running in slow motion, Roman candles ablaze with a dead alien strapped to his back to save the day.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Sarah Gavron 

Cast: Bukky Bakray, Anastasia Dymitrow, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes, Kosar Ali, Tawheda Begum 

This tough, authentic and heart-swelling coming-of-age drama is London’s answer to The 400 Blows – only with extra Snapchatting, can-kicking, trash-talking energy. It’s the story of Rocks (newcomer Bukky Bakray), a British-Nigerian teenager whose mum vanishes, leaving her and her adorbs younger brother to make their own way in a daunting city. Luckily, she has resilience and a posse of pals to help her along.

Mean Girls (2004)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Director Mark Waters

Cast Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams

Writer Tina Fey's madcap tale of a brainy new girl who falls in with a clique of superficial popular girls is a certified classic thanks to its deeply sympathetic view of everybody involved in its high-school hellscape: From the nerds who under the thumb of bullies to the insecure social elites that the film refuses to paint as monsters. Here, the Plastics are a worthy successor to the Heathers of yore, and the comic energy keeps things light even when the content gets heavy. Despite the film's enduring influence, though, it still hasn't made "fetch" happen.

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)
Photograph: Masha Weisberg/Netflix

5. To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)

Director Susan Johnson

Cast Lana Condor, Noah Centineo

To deal with her intense crushes, Lara Jean (Lana Condor) writes secret love letters to the boys she lusts after, which no one is ever meant to see. Of course, these letters end up being sent out and Lara Jean must deal with her feelings, and the implications of the letters, head on.

This Netflix Original movie, based on the book of the same name by Jenny Han, has been praised by all corners of the internet, especially for the performances of Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, who plays love interest Peter Kavinsky. In fact, it's proven so popular that it's spawned two sequels — PS I Still Love You and Always and Forever

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: John Hughes

Cast: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey

Oh, sure, Ferris is kind of a sociopathic twit who leaves ruined lives in the wake of his pursuit of happiness. But that awareness is the welcome hangover you get after going all in on a blissed-out, charismatic tale of truancy, flippancy and carpe-ing the diem. This is John Hughes at his most joyful, a film that ditches the director’s signature high-school angst for a full-throated celebration of being a teenager on the lam.

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  • Film

Director John Butler

Cast Fionn O'Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott

This charming indie comedy will resonate with anyone who felt like they didn't fit in during their teens. Set in an all-boys boarding school in Ireland where rugby reigns supreme, we meet Ned, the school's outsider. However, after he forges an unlikely friendship with the school's new star player, Conor, things at school start to change, both for better and for worse.

  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Amy Heckerling

Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy

Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne (Stacey Dash) are two perfectly coordinated Beverley Hills besties always looking to do a good deed. Their next "project" comes in the shape of slacker girl Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy), the newbie in High School who they decide needs a makeover. Amy Heckerling’s seminal movie (itself a makeover of Jane Austen’s Emma), contains some seriously extra fashion choices and a squeal-inducing happy ending. 

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  • Film
  • Comedy

Director Kelly Fremon Craig

Cast Hailee Steinfeld, Blake Jenner, Haley Lu Richardson

Hailee Steinfeld plays awkward 16-year-old Nadine, a sarky teen who is whipped into a mean-girl fury when her best friend starts dating her older brother. Under her barbed exterior, though, is a young girl in pain, and Steinfeld is able to play an asshole while also eliciting sympathy from viewers as her character slowly learns that nobody’s got the secret to being happy – everyone feels alone and empty. A reminder that being a teenager is the absolute worst.

The Mitchells Vs The Machines (2021)
Image: Netflix

10. The Mitchells Vs The Machines (2021)

Directors Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe

Cast Danny McBride, Maya Rudoplh, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Coleman

Too often, road-trip movies sideline their teen characters. This hyper-kinetic, singularly stylish road comedy from the team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse places Abbi Jacobson's incoming college freshman in the pole position on a road-trip across the US with her tech-challenged dad and doting mother. Few films exhibit such a deft understanding of the current online teen culture. And fewer manage such a consistent balance between visual wizardry and rat-a-tat jokes that lane. Even if it were stripped of its robot-invasion plot, the Mitchells are worthy successors to the Griswold clan.

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The Kissing Booth (2018)
Photograph: Marcos Cruz

11. The Kissing Booth (2018)

Director Vince Marcello

Cast Joey King, Jacob Elordi, Joel Courtney, Molly Ringwald

Starring the ’80s queen of teen Molly Ringwald, this Netflix Original movie follows all the gloriously sweet teen tropes. Best friends Elle and Lee have one rule: no getting involved with each other’s relatives. This gets a little complicated, however, after Elle becomes involved with Noah, Lee’s bad-boy older brother. Sure, it’s all fairly fluffy, but we’re really not complaining, and neither were audiences: A third film in the now-trilogy debuts August 11.

Fear Street: Part 1 - 1994 (2021)
Photo: Netflix

12. Fear Street: Part 1 - 1994 (2021)

Director Leigh Janiak

Cast Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr

When it was announced that RL Stine's PG-rated teen-horror anthology would be getting a gore-slathered, profane adaptation, many were puzzled. But what unfolds in the first part of the now-trilogy is a perfectly calibrated pastiche of '90s teen-slasher classics, complete with likeable Scooby squad of leads, nice comic beats, on-the-nose Rob Zombie needle drops and a surprisingly queer-positive twist on star-crossed lovers. It's also an extremely gnarly slasher: This might be for teens, but it's not wearing kids' gloves. As such, it's certain to be cemented in the sleepover-cinema hall of fame.

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  • Film

Director Craig Johnson

Cast Daniel Doheny, Antonio Marziale, Madeline Weinstein

It’s been dubbed Netflix’s take on Love, Simon, but to pigeonhole this cute coming out/coming-of-age story as a knock-off does it an injustice. We follow the titular Alex as he attempts to figure out his sexuality while also in a relationship with his best friend Claire. The introduction of Elliot, an out and proud gay teen who loves The B-52’s, only complicates matters, as does a hallucinogenic frog…

  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Will Gluck

Cast: Emma Stone, Stanley Tucci

When Olive Penderghast (Stone) lies about losing her virginity to a college guy, she gets labelled a "dirty skank" by her peers. Instead of laying low, she embraces her reputation, going as far as to accept payment to say that she slept with some of the boys. However, the burden of her scarlet letter begins to weigh and Olive is left wondering whether honesty might actually be the best policy after all.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart

Catherine Hardwicke's stylistic adaptation of the first book in Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire series is the only one of the five films that’s actually worth watching. The colour pallette – all blues, greys and murky greens – and some excellent location work transport you to Forks, and even the performances aren’t as wooden as they become in later episodes. Sure, it’s a guilty, glittery pleasure, but sometimes vampires that sparkle in the sun are exactly what you need.

  • Film
  • Comedy

Director Ari Sandel

Cast Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne

Mae Whitman has oodles of charm as the down-to-earth lead of this harmlessly predictable high school comedy. Realising she’s known as the "duff," a Designated Ugly Fat Friend guys talk to to get to their hotter mates, she sets about reinventing herself. But a message of acceptance wins out in the end.

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