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Best Graduation Movies and Songs of All Time +Playlist

By Ainsley Benbow

Year 12 graduation is an uncertain and scary moment that will occur in all of our lives. We are leaving a place we have gotten to know over the course of many years and going into the real world of taxes, job interviews and university can be very overwhelming.

Not that I (a Year 9 student) would know anything about this area of emotions but from my extensive knowledge of coming-of-age and graduation movies, I think I can understand some of the emotions, feelings and thoughts people feel and think when graduating to a certain degree. I have learnt most of all that friendships will last a lifetime even if you move apart and to know the importance of letting go and moving on to bigger and better things.

But something we should all remember in our lifetime is to know that moving on is not about forgetting, but it is about acceptance. And also to know that this is not the end of a chapter in our lives, but the start of a new one.

From the 1999 classic ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ to The Twilight Saga’s 2010 ‘Eclipse’, romance, drama, horror, comedy, dance and many more varying genres make up the theme of movies about graduation and coming of age.

To continue this boost of spirits and excited energy of starting a new chapter in your life, I have also included some of the best graduation songs (in my opinion) to fit the mood of this celebratory time.


Book Smart (2019)

This teen comedy is about best friends and academic overachievers Amy and Molly who, at the end of high school, realise they’ve missed out on teenage years that were supposed to be fun, wild, chaotic and not filled with library study sessions 24/7. To make up for everything they have missed out on throughout the years, they decide to have one amazing rebellious night that to describe in words, ‘that no amount of book smarts could prepare them for’ - (Film Synopsis).

This movie is incredibly uplifting, and hilarious and don’t forget it is MA15+. It is a family favourite in my house that highlights the importance of not just living up to strict ideals but savouring friendships that will last a lifetime.

Senior Year (2022)

After a tragic accident during a cheerleading routine, Stephanie, played by Australian icon Rebel Wilson, has finally woken up after a 20-year coma. Now being 37, she feels she has missed out and has to return to high school to finish her schooling and bring back her dream of becoming prom queen.

Despite the mixed reviews, throughout the film I enjoyed getting to know all the characters and seeing how everything played out as she was reunited with her friends and family as well as regaining who she was, but I also felt it did not need to be a full 2 hours. Senior Year expresses the message of how it’s better to be yourself than to change who you are to be popular.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

This Rom-Com, directed by Gil Junger, is about a new student Cameron who is interested in a girl Bianca and learns French just to be with her as her ‘tutor’. Bianca cannot date until her very cool, edgy and antisocial sister Kat has a boyfriend, so Cameron pays Patrick (the school’s edgiest guy) to charm and hopefully date Kat.

It is an amazing movie for any occasion that really makes you think about the causes of your actions if you are not being honest with the people around you. This is one of my all-time favourite movies and I 100% recommend this to everyone for not only getting to watch a representation of high school but it is about the relationships, friendships and love that we can find in high school.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Starring John Hughes, Molly Ringwald and countless other 80s stars, The Breakfast Club focuses on 5 socially different teenagers of different ranks in popularity fitting the stereotypical types of people in high school who all find themselves in detention together on a Saturday. The main message of the film circles around the theme of the constant struggle and pressure of being a teenager who is not understood or taken seriously by adults. It is also about the struggles of social relations within the schooling experience and teenagers’ struggle with identity.

Although I have never watched this movie and cannot make a fair judgement about it from my point of view, from the ratings online being 4.4 stars out of 5 and the countless recommendations from my family and friends, I can only assume it is good, but don’t take my word for it!

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2019)

Do I even have to explain this? The Twilight series, possibly the cringiest movies to ever be created, featuring Kristen Stewart. I must say, Kristen, this is not your best work, or maybe desperate and gasping for air on every line was what you were going for? If so, good job you nailed it 😉.

In Twilight Eclipse, Bella’s first and Edwards' millionth graduation is coming up soon (hence the graduation theme) but there have been numerous killings that are all pinpointing to eventually making their way to their town. This film also continues the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob. She must choose between Edward, the perverted, old, blood-sucking, creepy sleep-watcher with major iron deficiencies, and Jacob, the tall, tanned, muscular, motorcycle-riding, constantly shirtless… wait sorry oh, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, basically, Jacob should be on Too Hot To Handle. She has to choose because it will determine her whole future of staying human or becoming a vampire.

If you’re looking for a movie to laugh and inevitably cringe at, this is the movie for you. Although I have always not liked the Twilight series, they will have a small place in my heart, Jacob however, has my whole heart.

She’s All That (1999)

This 1hr 35min movie, is about Zach Siler (Mr. Popular) who, after being cheated on and dumped by his cheerleader girlfriend, experiences a popularity decline and makes a bet with his friends over the next 6 weeks to gain the trust of Laney Boggs and make her the next prom queen. Laney is an artsy, introverted, ‘outcast’ but over the course of the 6 weeks (where she does not know about the bet), feelings change leading to a varying course of events.

The message of this American high school film is to always remember that it is what is on the inside that matters and does not matter what’s on the outside. You should always stay true to yourself and who you are.

Legally Blonde (2001)

The absolute classic, Legally Blonde, focuses on Elle, a lovely, pink and dog lover with a fashion major. When her boyfriend Warner dumps her for someone more serious as he is going to Harvard Law School, Elle finds it only right to fight for him and go to Harvard Law School to show him that she is serious and the perfect girl for him. But only when arriving at Harvard she finds out that he has found someone else and over the next few terms, trying hard to stay true to who she is, she continues her education at Harvard for herself.

Like ‘She’s All That', the message from Legally Blonde is to above all controversy and hate you may get, always be true to yourself and you should always embrace who you are. It explores the lessons of integrity, acceptance, independence and never judging a book by its cover.

This is one of my Top 5 movies of all time and I highly recommend this movie to anyone and everyone!!!

Euro-Trip (2004)

After being dumped by his girlfriend Fiona at High School graduation, Scotty and his best friend Cooper go to Europe to find Scotty’s German pen pal Mieke who, after some unfortunate and drunken mistakes, blocks Scotty.

This 2004 MA15+ adventure comedy is the story of Scotty, Cooper and their two other friends (who are twins and whom they meet in Paris) journey through Europe to find Scotty’s allegedly gorgeous pen pal Mieke.

This movie is funny and really showcases some of the travel situations you may find yourself in when going to Europe right after you graduate from high school.

The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants (2005)

Starring America Ferrera - who was an absolute icon in Barbie, Blake Lively - who we’re all jealous of for being married to the one and only Ryan Reynolds, Alexis Blebel - who couldn’t get enough boys from Gilmore Girls (like girl save some for the rest of us) and Amber Tamblyn.

These four actors play 4 best friends who during their first summer apart, stay together in spirits by passing around a pair of jeans that despite their varying body shapes, magically fit them all! During the summer they all go through different very crucial experiences but through it all support each other.

This movie’s message is that of always staying loyal to each other in spite of events and to always take care in the relationships and friendships that you have with each other because if so, you will have them for a lifetime just like these 4 girls did.

This relates to the theme of graduation and coming of age because it symbolises how when we move on to different chapters in our lives that may be in different places to our friends, we should always stay connected and be there for each other.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Directed by John Hughes, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is about, you’ll never believe it, Ferris Bueller! He is a popular cheeky student who decides to pull a very well-prepared and set out sicky and take the day off school. He takes the day with his best friend and girlfriend to explore their city of Chicago and its suburbs and do all sorts of things going around society’s rules. During this time his Principal goes to all lengths to try to stop and catch Ferris and his companions.

This movie focuses not only on the bending of rules in society’s system and on friendship, but it is so much more. It’s about how we always may need just a day off to blow steam and have a good time without friends. Life is short and we shouldn’t waste those good times with our friends as someday we may drift apart but will always have our memories forever.

This is an exciting and hilarious story that reviews are 4.7/5 stars which I totally agree with! Enjoy the movie and don’t forget to enjoy life.

Say Anything (1989)

Say Anything is an American teen rom-com drama film about an average student, Lloyd Dobler - played by John Cusack and valedictorian Diane Court - played by Ione Skye. It follows the romance of these two which starts right after their graduation from high school, but takes a turn when Diane’s father disapproves and many more events lead to the unique ending.

This movie is about honesty and always telling the truth.

To All The Boys: Always and Forever (2021)

This 3rd book in the series, of which was adapted from a book trilogy by Jenny Han, continues the focus of Lara Jean and Peter’s perfect relationship that, let's be real, all of us want in real life.

They are both finally in their senior year of high school and are finding out where they are going to college: They wanted to go together but after a trip to New York and acceptance or rejection letters are coming in, will their dream college life be the right choice?

Lana Condor and Noah Centineo star in this 2021 American teen rom-com which really shows the messaging of coming of age, the decisions for after high school and making sure you are making the right decision not for other people, but for yourself.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

This 2012 movie was adapted from the 1990s book ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky. Actors including Logan Lerman, Emma Stone, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd and Nina Dobrev, the film depicts 15-year-old Charlie who enters his new high school nervous about the new road ahead. Over time he makes friends and learns to cope with his post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the suicide of his friend.

This coming-of-age film is greatly admired for its adaptation of the characters and for their fine details and struggles that make you feel authentically close to them.

Graduation Songs:

  • Time of Our Lives by Green Day

  • Long Live by Taylor Swift

  • Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

  • We’re All In This Together by High School Musical Cast

  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel

  • Time of Our Lives by Pitbull

  • Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus

  • I’m Just Ken by Ryan Gosling

  • Count on Me by Bruno Mars

  • We Are the Champions by Queen

  • Mr. Brightside by The Killers

  • Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamin C

  • It's Time by Imagine Dragons

  • Celebration by Kool and The Gang

  • The Climb by Miley Cyrus

  • Le Freak by CHIC

  • Tongue Tied by GROUPLOVE

  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

  • Best Day Of My Life by American Authors

  • Wild World by Cat Stevens

  • Sign of the Times by Harry Styles

  • I Got A Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas

  • School Days by Al Green

  • Night Changes by One Direction

  • Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond

  • If You Were Here by The Thompson Twins

  • Closing Time by Green Day

  • Dancing Queen by ABBA

  • Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears

  • I’ll Be There for You by Bon Jovi

  • I’ll Be There by The Jackson 5

  • With A Little Help From My Friends by John Cocker

  • Who Says by Selena Gomez

  • Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen

  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

  • Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen

  • Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen

  • Cherry Bomb by John Mellencamp

  • Authority Song by John Mellencamp

  • Marlboro Nights by Lonely God

  • As It Was by Harry Styles

  • I Fought the Law by The Clash

  • Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars

  • Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper

  • I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys

  • Story of My Life by One Direction

  • Vienna by Billy Joel

  • Green Light by Lorde

  • You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Randy Newman

  • Heartbreak Anniversary by Giveon

  • Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day

  • No Rain by Blind Melon

  • The Nights by Avicii

  • Hall of Fame by The Script ft.

  • Boom Boom by Justice Crew

  • See You Again by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

  • Everyone Wants To Rule The World by Tears for Fears

  • see you later (ten years) by Jenna Raine

  • Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey

  • Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey

  • Slipping Through My Fingers by Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfreid

  • Someone To You by BANNERS

  • Last Friday Night by Katy Perry

  • Lean on Me by Bill Withers

  • Before You Go by Lewis Capaldi

  • Fearless by Taylor Swift

  • Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift


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