Slice-of-life movies are one of the broadest genres in media. After all, life can be a comedy and a tragedy in one day. It is every single genre you can think of unless it is horror or sci-fi/fantasy. It needs to be linked to real life. However, many filmmakers look at teenage rom-com. Multiple classic movies are in the slice-of-life genre, though separating them into more specific genres is easier.
Here are the top 12 best Slice of Life movies to watch when life sucks.
12. Adventureland (2009)
Teenage romance is a popular setting for American teenage slice-of-life movies, but Adventureland is set in an unusual setting, an amusement park. Jesse Eisenberg plays James Brennan. He wanted to have a summer European tour but had to get a job due to his family’s financial situation changing. While working at the amusement park, Brennan learns a lot about life, love, and values while working in an amusement park.
This might come from the same directors as Superbad, but this is not like that film. This is nothing new. Eisenberg is someone trying to figure out who he is while falling for Em (Kristen Stewart). All the characters are fleshed out, each with its problems and complexities. Instead of being a teenager figuring it out, Adventureland looks at this from a young adult’s point of view. Just because they are no longer teens does not mean they have it together. That’s a message more films should show, as it is realistic. You don’t have to have everything under control by the time you’re 18. It’s ok to change your plans and not know where you are going.
11. The Spectacular Now (2013)
Ah, teenage hood. This is when people suddenly expect you to know what to do with your life. While some, like good girl Aimee (Shailene Woodley), seem to have a plan, others don’t. Sutter (Miles Teller) doesn’t, instead choosing to party hard. However, when the two meet, it’s a revelation as they are more similar than they thought.
You know, most movies show the glamorous side of being a teenager. It’s meant to be the best time of your life. However, it is filled with anxiety and fear. There’s a pressure to find ‘your path’ that many movies don’t usually speak off. While Sutter starts as a typical frat boy, he soon develops. The characterization and development are excellent, making this one of the better coming-of-age rom-com movies.
10. Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a senior at a Catholic high school in 2002. The movie details Lady Bird’s struggles with romance, friendships, and her choice in college despite her financial situation. At the core, it is about a mother-and-daughter relationship.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You don’t get along with your parents because you’re exactly like them?”
Yeah, that perfectly resembles the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother. It’s a pretty realistic slice-of-life of a teenage daughter’s relationship that is strained due to their similar personalities. Love is not pretty and challenging at times, which it portrays wonderfully. It’s a story of a daughter finding her way and a mother struggling to let go. Both sides are given detail, and you can’t help but understand both. It takes new ideas on cliches of this genre and will not be a mistake to watch. Just remember tissues!
9. Before Sunrise (1995)
What happens if you meet a stranger on a train who takes your breath away? It is one night that changes your life, never to return into their life. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Céline (Julie Delpy) on a train from Budapest to Vienna. Through conversations, both decide to spend one night together in the beautiful city of Vienna, which changes both forever.
Before Sunrise is beautiful visually. The cinematography is stunning, even by today’s standards. Most of the plot consists of monologues by Jesse and Céline, as they each learn more about themselves and each other during their trip. Directed by Richard Linklater, who also directed Dazed and Confused, the man knows how to do romance comedy in this post-modern era well. It’s a loose plot driven by the characters, which adds to the treasured memory feeling you get watching this movie. You won’t regret watching this, especially if you’re a romantic.
8. American Graffiti (1973)
Did you know George Lucas was a filmmaker before Star Wars? American Graffiti is one of the first movies Lucas directed and produced. In 1960s Modesto, California, this is another coming-of-age story featuring high school students getting into mischief for the last night of their summer vacation. It tackles many of the stereotypes of the 1960s, such as cruising, drag races, and rock ‘n’ roll culture.
American Graffiti is a classic slice-of-life 1970s teen nostalgia, it is hard to summarise its plot as it splits into several mini-plots. The four main protagonists are Curt Henderson (Richard Dreyfuss), Steve Bolander (Ron Howard), John Milner (Paul Le Mat), and Terry “The Toad” Fields (Charles Martin Smith). Each goes through their journey and meets up at the movie’s climax. Be warned, some aspects of this movie have aged horribly. However, the acting and cinematography still make this movie a love letter to the 1960s today.
7. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Call Me by Your Name is an adaptation of the 2007 novel of the same title by André Aciman and the third installment of the “Desire” trilogy by Luca Guadagnino. It focuses on the love affair between a 17-year-old, Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), and 24- year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer). Yeah, we’re looking at a queer love story from 1983 Italy.
This is a simple love story. The plot is well developed, allowing the characters to get to know and let the audience in. It is Elio that is more forward in their relationship. Still, this movie is nothing compared to the book. The book has some vivid scenes. Holy crap! However, the best bit is the ending. It’s an ending that makes sense. We recommend it for excellent acting and screenplay. But give the book a go (if you can handle it). One thing we have noticed is that like life itself, many of these slice-of-life movies have endings we typically would not like in other genres but make sense in these movies. This is an example of a passionate love that changes both lovers.
6. The Way Way Back (2013)
Ok, something a little more light-hearted now. The Way Way Back is about Duncan (Liam James), a 14-year-old introverted boy. His summer vacation turns into his worst nightmare as he is stuck on a vacation with his mother Pam (Toni Collette), her rude and snotty boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), and his spoilt daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). However, during this vacation, Duncan makes friends with the staff of Water Wizz and learns something new.
This slice of life went through development hell. While it was written in the early 2000s, it took over a decade to create. However, this is a beautiful film. The plot is so simple yet effective. It makes use of the talented cast, the beautiful scenery, and the well-written script. It’s nothing special, but it is still a movie worth watching. It’s a new take on a classic formula.
5. The Breakfast Club (1985)
Don’t you forget about me! How can you forget about this 80’s gem when talking about slice-of-life movies? On a Saturday morning, five students meet for detention and discover a lot more in common than they had previously realized. It is a defiant piece of a movie depicting teenage attitudes and breaking different social cliques.
The Breakfast Club should be a rite of passage. We stand by that statement. However, there is no such thing as a perfect film. The romances suck, there, we said it. One has the girl change her entire aesthetic to gain the guys’ attention, and the other is abusive. However, some things have stood the test of time. You can find complex characters in a high school, such as the self-pressurizing Brian (Anthony Michael Hall). The good outweighs the bad in this classic slice-of-life movie.
4. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
We didn’t say the slice-of-life genre had to be always happy, it is about life, and sometimes life sucks. After his brother’s death, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) becomes the legal guardian of his nephew Patrick Chandler (Lucas Hedges). Lee suffers from depression and PTSD. This is because of an incident that led to the death of his childhood years before.
This heavy movie deals with grief, PTSD, guilt, and depression. However, it handles these topics sensitively and respectfully. Casey Affleck plays Lee very well, showing varying degrees of grief. Lucas Hedges is no slouch either, showing the desperation and despair of leaving his old life in Manchester and trying to cope with his situation. It deserves the awards it has won and is a memorable movie. Just don’t forget the tissues.
3. Dazed and Confused (1993)
All right, All right, All right! Talk about a movie that was a flop when it first came out, only to become a cult classic slice-of-life movie! This coming-of-age teen movie takes us to 1976 New Austin, Texas. Our protagonists are a bunch of upcoming freshmen who just want to enjoy the final days of high school. However, they party a bit too hard and struggle to remember what happened after their college freshman hazing.
There are lots of famous names in this cast. Jason London, Ben Affleck, Adam Goldberg, Matthew McConaughey, and Parker Posey, just to name a few. Some of the ideas, such as hazing, are dated. But, hey, this was the 1970s. It refuses to apologize for embodying the good and bad aspects of the 1970s. You can see this in the over-the-top hazing and the frequent use of drugs. It’s hard to write about it. However, there is a reason Dazed and Confused is a cult classic today.See also: 14 Movies Like Project X That Spiral Out Of Control
2. Short Term 12 (2013)
Brie Larson, who appeared in The Spectacular Now, also appears here as Grace. Grace is a supervisor of a group home for troubled teenagers. These are based on director Destin Daniel Cretton’s experience working at a group facility for troubled youths. Having created a short movie beforehand, Short Term 12 expands on this tale.
This is a rough movie. Like Manchester by the Sea, it explores many heavy themes. However, this does highlight the need for a sound support system. There are plenty of profound moments which require excellent acting. It’s a tough experience you should witness for yourself to truly appreciate it.
1. Lost in Translation (2003)
Ok, back to the rom-com part of the slice-of-life genre. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson portray two Americans who, for different reasons, find themselves together in Tokyo. Both are suffering from disconnection. Bob Harris is a fading movie star in an unhappy marriage and a midlife crisis. Charlotte is a Yale graduate who accompanies her husband on his business trip. She is having questions about her new marriage.
Lost in Translation is the best definition of a slice-of-life movie, the theme of disconnection is made through the location, as Charlotte and Bob are foreigners and feel disconnected in their marriages. That’s why it’s easy to see how they would bond together. Romance is not the focus, but it is there. You’ve got Bill Murray and Scarlet Johannsson. You know it’s going to have good acting. It’s a good plot, with realistic characters. While the ending leaves their story open, it fits the whole theme. It’s an enjoyable movie for a rainy day.