The American high school movie is iconic. The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls and Booksmart have become household names and beacons of relatability to coming-of-age teens across generations.
However, the genre’s big brother rarely gets the same love. In honor of the often-forgotten university flick, here are some of the greatest college movies of all time on every streaming service.
Hulu: Whiplash (2014)
Damien Chazelle’s debut studio feature is set at the fictional Shaffer Conservatory in New York, an institutional embodiment of many college students’ daily anxieties and fears. Tensions are heightened to the extreme by J.K. Simmons’ Oscar-winning turn as Terence Fletcher, a near-psychotic instructor at the college. While its specialized setting may be alien to some, the film’s themes of burnout and academic abuse will be recognizable to students from schools of any kind.
Amazon Prime Video: Legally Blonde (2001)
Reese Witherspoon’s journey through Harvard Law School as blonde sorority girl Elle Woods is a classic. Endlessly quotable and timeless in its comedic execution, Legally Blonde is mandatory viewing for all courtroom dreamers, and for good reason. Plus, who can resist Jennifer Coolidge?
Disney+: Monsters University (2013)
As it turns out, Disney+ has a distinct lack of university-related films, aside from Pixar’s collegiate prequel to their animated smash-hit Monsters, Inc. Although Monsters University doesn’t rank among the studio’s best, the return of Billy Crystal and John Goodman’s infectious chemistry makes this a worthwhile return to the Monsters world.
Max: Shiva Baby (2020)
Nosy relatives, unexpected exes, and an uncertain future: Shiva Baby delivers a slew of college fears and worries. Emma Seligman’s critically acclaimed debut features Rachel Sennott encountering a college student’s worst nightmares, all while sitting shiva for a recently deceased family friend. Hilarious, shocking and devastating all in the same breath, Shiva Baby makes for stressful essential viewing.
Netflix: Frances Ha (2012)
Similarly to Shiva Baby, Frances Ha isn’t set at college and doesn’t directly examine college life. Instead, Greta Gerwig’s ever-charming Frances Halladay explores post-grad life with humor and heart, delving into the flaky friendships and wayward goals that litter the mid-twenties. What qualifies Frances Ha for this list is Frances’s return to her former college, a pivotal sequence that embodies the uncertainties of early adulthood.
Peacock: Black Christmas (1974)
Christmas time, a sorority house, and a killer on the loose: Bob Clark’s holiday horror is a classic for a reason. For almost five decades, Black Christmas has thrilled and chilled audiences with its timeless tale of Greek life scares. Slower and more thoughtful than your typical slasher, Black Christmas holds the bar raised high for every imitator after it, the blueprint for wintery terror.
Paramount+: Scream VI (2023)
Released just this year, Scream VI brought the long-running horror series to New York City. Ghostface gained a new hunting ground as the film’s heroes begin their semesters at the fictional Blackmore University. While it may not be the series’s first dip into college-based horror – see 1997’s Scream 2 – the sequel upped the stakes, and the bloodshed, for a gory good time.
Freevee: Pitch Perfect (2012)
Pitch Perfect needs no introduction. The Barden Bellas are a household name, and the film, with its two sequels, has become beloved by a generation of acapella enthusiasts. Who among us hasn’t performed the cup song for their entire elementary school class? Anna Kendrick’s turn as DJ-turned-singer Beca Mitchell stays iconic for talent show aspirers everywhere, and the film’s cultural impact remains a decade after its release.