Confession: I still love a good teen romance. Sure, I’m about a decade out of high school and you couldn’t pay me to repeat those years, but a movie about first love between two teenagers? Sign me up.
Here’s my theory: Teenagers are heartachingly earnest. They’re not plagued by years of disappointment, and they’re less focused on who they “should” or “shouldn’t” date. They’ve still got their whole lives ahead of them, and they just fall so hard.
If you’re in the market for an excellent teen romance, we have exactly what you need. Here’s what we think are the best teen romances from the last five years.
Maddy’s a smart, inquisitive girl who isn’t just homeschooled — she’s homebound. She’s spent her whole life behind the doors of her home, only physically interacting with her mother and full-time nurse. Enter the new boy in the neighborhood, Olly. What makes their relationship so sweet is that Olly is absolutely concerned with Maddy’s health and tries to keep her safe while also honoring her autonomy and desire to actually be in the world. Not to mention, from the get-go, Olly is up-front about his interest in Maddy. He’s not one to play emotional games.
The Fundamentals of Caring
Trevor is an anxious, sarcastic teenager who uses a wheelchair. He rarely leaves the house until he is convinced by his new carer, Ben, to go on a road trip. Along the way, they meet Dot and decide to bring her along on their trip. What makes Dot and Trevor’s relationship so sweet is that it helps Trevor open up to a world of possibilities. It might not be a long-lasting romance, but it’s fundamental in Trevor’s experience of the world.
This film, in theaters Feb. 23, is the story of 16-year-old Rhiannon, who finds herself falling in love with the same soul, A, who wakes up in a different body every day. A arrives as boys and girls and in a range of ethnicities, each of them containing the same inner person but presenting themselves differently every time. It’s a wonderful testament to the fact that love is really about who a person is, not how they appear.
The Way Way Back
Duncan is an extraordinarily awkward teen who is forced to go to his family’s beach house with his mother and stepdad. There he meets his neighbor Susanna and starts working at the local water park. Through his budding relationship with Susanna, Duncan begins to gain confidence in himself. And while she doesn’t show her romantic interest until the very end, her ability to get Duncan to open up makes this love story incredibly sweet.
The Fault in Our Stars
Hazel is a 16-year-old cancer patient who feels increasingly hopeless, but while attending a cancer support group, she meets Augustus, a fellow teen whose cancer is in remission. There’s an instant spark, and it’s not long before they’re in love. Although their story has a tragic end, their brief but beautiful relationship is memorable, as Augustus helps Hazel break down the walls she’d been building and live her life.
R is a zombie who craves human brains in part because eating them allows him to experience their memories and feel alive. Upon meeting actual live human Julie, he feels his heart beat for the first time, and after learning more about her while eating her boyfriend’s brains, he falls hard. While initially — and understandably — Julie is skeptical of his interest, she learns to trust R after he saves her life. As they bond, he comes back to life. Not everyone could love a zombie, but two teenagers finding a way might lead to the transformation of an apocalyptic world.
This post was sponsored by Every Day.