Our 20s are the time when we finally come into our own as individuals - we are responsible for our lives, values, lifestyle choices and we also can’t blame our parents anymore for our terrible taste in music or movies. Films of course, subconsciously add to our sensibilities and make us more worldly-wise. Here are 20 movies every girl should watch in her 20s:
At 24, Lena Dunham wrote, produced and starred in the acclaimed HBO series Girls. Before that, she wrote and starred in the film Tiny Furniture, where she portrayed a young woman Aura, who is fresh out of college and completely clueless about what she wants to do with her life, professionally and personally. Her tribulations will be relatable to any 20-something woman who is aspiring to make a fresh start in life but doesn’t know how to.
2. Frances Ha
‘Sometimes it’s good to do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it.’ Frances is every girl - she is moody, indecisive, flawed - she’s a dancer, she loves her friend and is heartbroken, unable to process the reality of her moving out. The rest of the coming-of-age movie transpires as an afterthought.
3. (500) Days of Summer
We all have met that one person who doesn’t quite believe in love - which is why this movie is such a must watch. Through the length of this film, Tom revisits the one year he shared with Summer- the girl he fell in love and wanted to spend the rest of his life with. She, on the other hand, does not believe in relationships or boyfriends.
4. Legally Blonde
Reese Witherspoon’s character Elle Woods gets dumped by her boyfriend who starts dating a smarter girl as he plans a career in politics. As revenge, Elle, the sorority girl, gets enrolled in the same law school. Held against popular perceptions, she goes on to win praise and accolades.
5. Little Miss Sunshine
This is an on-the-road comedy film - the story of what happens when a family decides to travel cross country to help their young daughter participate a beauty pageant. Things start going awry when they commence on the journey as most of them are on the verge of losing their minds, arguing. Child prodigy Abigail Breslin is utterly precious and amazing in this film.
6. Inside Out
Most of this film transpires inside the mind of an 11-year-old, but this film is more relevant to adults than it might come across to be. Riley has moved to San Francisco, leaving behind her old life in Minnesota. She and her five core emotions - fear, anger, joy, disgust and sadness, struggle to cope with the drastic changes and make sense of things. And yes, each of those five emotions is a personified character in the film, dubbed by extremely talented actors like Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader.
7. Good Will Hunting
The film follows a 20-year-old South Boston labourer Will Hunting, an unrecognized maths prodigy who is asked to consult a therapist after assaulting a police officer. He also starts studying advanced mathematics with a renowned professor. Through his therapy sessions, Will is forced to reevaluate his relationship with his best friend, his girlfriend and himself, thus also confronting his past and thinking about his future.
8. The Harry Potter Series
If you haven’t watched the Harry Potter series in your childhood or teenage years - it is time you set aside a day to watch the eight films back to back. A date with the boy who lived, who conquers his fear and who conquers all evil through sheer courage and the support and love of his friends.
9. Into The Wild
A young graduate decides to let go of all his possessions and hitchhikes across America. On this journey he encounters different situations which change him fundamentally as a person. If you love travelling and exploring, this beautifully-shot film is a must watch.
10. Dead Poets Society
Like Monalisa Smile, Dead Poets Society is also about a nonconforming teacher, who inspires his students to dream big to aim higher, to read, to constantly be curious. If you are missing your favourite teacher, you might want to give this one a go.
11. Almost Famous
Fifteen-year-old William gets the golden opportunity to accompany Stillwater, a rock band, on their tour in order to write an article about them in the Rolling Stone magazine. On this whirlwind of a journey, he learns a thing or two about life and relationships.
Annie (Kristen Wiig), a maid of honour’s life unravels as she leads her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and a group of eccentric bridesmaids (Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper) on a wild ride down the road towards a wedding ceremony. With her own life in a mess, Annie fakes her way through bizarre and expensive rituals - but she is a testimony to how far you’ll go for someone you love.
13. Mona Lisa Smile
‘You can conform to what others think of you, or you can be yourself.’ - In 1953, when Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts) starts teaching Art History at Wellesley College, she finds the institution drowning in outdated traditions. A passionate educator, Katherine takes on the stringent establishment and in doing so, she deeply affects and transforms her students who in turn lead her to alter the course of her life forever.
14. Jane Eyre
‘Do you think because I am small, obscure, plain and little, that I am soulless and heartless? Jane Eyre, adapted from Charlotte Bronte’s much-loved novel, is about a headstrong, young woman who is painfully aware of her physical appearance as she is of her limited means. She is a governess at Mr Rochester’s house, who is a prick for being already married and playing hard-to-get and breaking poor Jane’s heart. Sorry for the spoiler but watch this one for its strong protagonist who lives by her own values and in the end does get what she wants.
15. Pride and Prejudice
Adapted from Jane Austen's popular classic, Elizabeth Bennet was well ahead of her times - she was well read, feisty and had zero tolerance for the casual sexism thrown in her direction. Of course the one man she cannot stand is the one man she falls in love with. The movie reaffirms one thing though - ‘We are all fools in love’.
‘If your nerves deny you - go above your nerves’ - The true story of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike across the Pacific Crest Trail in the US to recover from the loss of her mother. A testimony to human resilience, this film talks about having no regrets and moving on from one’s catastrophic past and also forgiving oneself in the process.
17. Easy A
Taking on from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book The Scarlet Letter, this reimagined high school comedy features Emma Stone as Olivia, whose clean-cut school life changes drastically after a rumour about losing her virginity gets out. Victimised by the rumour mill, she then twists things around for her own social advancement.
18. Mistress America
‘There is no cheating when you are 18. You should all be touching each other all the time’ - Mistress America is the story of a lonely college student whose life turns upside-down after meeting her extremely self-aware stepsister, who knows exactly what she wants in life but she is always one step short of achieving her dreams. Another golden line from the film - ‘I know I’m funny. There’s nothing I don’t know about myself. That’s why I can’t do therapy.’
‘Homesickness is like most illnesses - it will pass.’ A young Irish girl, Eilis Lacey, moves to the US in the 1950s in search of a better life - she finds a job, she falls in love but a tragedy at home beckons her. A young Irish man shows his imminent interest in her and Eilis is at sea - she must choose between home and her new life that awaits her at the other side of the ocean. This is a dilemma which most young women can relate to even in today’s day and age.
20. La La Land
‘This is the dream - it’s conflict and it’s compromise and it’s very very exciting.’ Yes, Ryan Gosling is in this movie but Emma Stone is an absolute stunner in this film - as the vulnerable and self-doubting Mia who sings like a dream but still doesn’t think she is good enough. This film is a tribute to people relentlessly slogging in creative fields - ‘the fools who dream’ so to speak. And it also reaffirms one thing - the duration of a relationship doesn’t determine its legitimacy.