7 Movies Like Young Adult (2011)

Staff & contributors

A very intelligent and nuanced movie that relentlessly asks unpleasant questions. It's a story about a woman seeking freedom by turning away from her own family and finding something she did not expect. The main character of the movie, Martha, is taken in by a cult and the movie depicts how this experience shapes and warps her life, thoughts, and actions. The time she spent with the cult ultimately also shapes her own personality, which raises questions about her identity and the place she now fits in. Every actor is well cast, and especially Elizabeth Olsen (playing Martha) puts on a stand-out performance, which proves that she is an actor to watch out for in the years to come.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Adam David Thompson, Allen McCullough, Brady Corbet, Christopher Abbott, Elizabeth Olsen, Gregg Burton, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Julia Garner, Lauren Molina, Louisa Krause, Maria Dizzia, Sarah Paulson, Tobias Segal

Director: Sean Durkin

Rating: R

Wendy (Michelle Williams) is a drifter driving up to Alaska in hopes of finding work. When her car breaks down, she and her dog Lucy are stranded and forced to scrounge for food and repairs, hitting one roadblock after another on her path to an uncertain dream. This sympathetic and solemn look at poverty from director Kelly Reichardt serves as a reminder of how easy it is to fall through the fragile American safety net.   

Reichardt’s uncompromising approach paired with Williams’s restrained performance makes the experience authentic and intense, recalling the work of Ken Loach. This natural sharpness makes for an engrossing watch that builds in power until the emotional release of the film’s heartbreaking conclusion. 

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ayanna Berkshire, David Koppell, Deirdre OConnell, Gabe Nevins, Greg Schmitt, Jeanine Jackson, John Breen, John Robinson, Larry Fessenden, M. Blash, Marilyn Faith Hickey, Michelle Williams, Roger D. Faires, Tanya Smith, Wally Dalton, Will Oldham, Will Patton

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Rating: R

Monster is a biographical depiction of Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron), a prostitute and serial killer who murdered seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. The film follows the burgeoning relationship between Wuornos and young Selby Wall (Christina Ricci, in a role based on Wuornos' real-life girlfriend Tyria Moore), as she grows increasingly desperate to provide for her young companion financially. Her desperation and her rage against men, brought on by years of both childhood and adult abuse, leads her down a dark path of murder and theft, even as she struggles to shield Selby from the horror of her crimes. The overwhelming highlight of the film is Theron’s mesmerizing performance as Wuornos—a role that won her a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Actress in 2004. She’s almost unrecognizable and altogether phenomenal as the volatile and increasingly unstable Wuornos, whose ferocity is interwoven with surprising affection for young Selby. This unexpected tenderness lends the film an air of tragic poignancy, and provides a bittersweet portrayal of a severely troubled woman. Very much intended for mature audiences only, Monster is a fascinating recreation of a disturbing yet compelling chapter in the annals of true crime in America.

Genre: Crime, Drama

Actor: Al, Annie Corley, Brett Rice, Bruce Dern, Bubba Baker, Cannonball, Catherine Mangan, Charlize Theron, Christian Stokes, Christina Ricci, Cree Ivey, Glenn R. Wilder, Jesse Stern, Jim R. Coleman, Kaitlin Riley, Kane Hodder, Lee Tergesen, Lyllian Barcaski, Magdalena Manville, Marc Macaulay, Marco St. John, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Romonda Shaver, Rus Blackwell, Scott Wilson, Stephan Jones, Tim Ware

Director: Patty Jenkins

Rating: R

This is a revelation of a movie for its simplicity in handling a pretty serious and dark subject. It's the story of a generally immature and newly unemployed stand-up comic in New York and her unplanned pregnancy with a man that was supposed to be a fling, and it's surprisingly funny and yet rather touching. I can't think of many actresses who would've fit the bill quite like Jenny Slate. Not only is she hilarious, but her treatment of a generally sensitive issue from the honest, crass point of view of a down-on-life, New York-er leaves you drowning in empathy for her. I recommend this for anyone looking to cuddle up, have a few little clever laughs and feel all tingly in the chest-al area.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Amy Novondo, Cindy Cheung, David Cross, Elise Widerker, Emily Tremaine, Ernest Mingione, Gabe Liedman, Gaby Hoffmann, Jake Lacy, Jennifer Kim, Jenny Slate, Justin Lerner, Karen Maine, Kitty Crystal, Mary DelMarco, Michael Bonfiglio, Nicholas Cirillo, Paul Briganti, Polly Draper, Richard Kind, Sarina Roma, Stacey Sargeant, Stephen Singer, Suzanne Lenz

Director: Gillian Robespierre

Rating: R

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a corporate axman, he comes in a fires people when the managers are too afraid to do it themselves. The nature of his work requires a lot of flying, short lived meetings in transit zones and he absolutely loves it, and he has a certain goal in mind. When the company tries a new approach to corporate downsizing he has to change his way and view of life. It's full of cynicism and warmth. If you are familiar with Jason Reitman's previous work, you'll feel right at home, if you don't : Get to it!

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Adam Rose, Adhir Kalyan, Adrienne Lamping, Amy Morton, Anna Kendrick, Chris Lowell, ​Christopher Lowell, Cut Chemist, Danny McBride, Dave Engfer, George Clooney, J.K. Simmons, Jason Bateman, Jeff Witzke, Jerry Vogel, Matt O'Toole, Melanie Lynskey, Sam Elliott, Steve Eastin, Tamala Jones, Thomas M. Martilotti, Vera Farmiga, Zach Galifianakis

Director: Jason Reitman

Rating: R

I watch many movies and the great majority of them leave little impression on me. They are fun and entertaining, but quickly forgettable. Not Disconnect, though. This is a powerful and provocative film that not only keeps you pinned to your seat but also makes you think about the consequences of your actions. It should certainly be a required viewing not only for young people but also for any one who uses social media or communicates via the Internet. Disconnect is a timely, well-written, well-acted, and well-paced movie that stays with you long after you finish watching it. I was also pleased by the fact that the director and writer did not take the easy way out. No glib, predictable solutions here, which is one reason why the film's events linger in your mind.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough, Antonella Lentini, Cole Mohr, Colin Ford, Ella Lentini, Erin Wilhelmi, Frank Grillo, Haley Ramm, Hope Davis, Jason Bateman, John Sharian, Jonah Bobo, Kasi Lemmons, Kevin Csolak, Marc Jacobs, Max Thieriot, Michael Nyqvist, Norbert Leo Butz, Paula Patton, Tessa Albertson

Director: Henry Alex Rubin

Rating: R

With the rise of fascism globally, and concerns about an upcoming world war, depictions of World War II have become popular, with the most notable being Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Einstein and the Bomb instead takes a look at the prominent scientist, whose theory of relativity made the atomic bomb possible, who had a personal stake in ensuring the Nazis were defeated, but who also had to reckon with the horrific consequences in pursuing the West’s promises of peace. It’s a needed perspective, and director Anthony Philipson pulls from Einstein’s very words, his own ideas about the society at the time eerily echoing the concerns about today’s society. However, there’s something off about the way these ideas are presented, as it feels like the film was less interested in Einstein as a man, and more interested in using him as a spokesperson, using his image to cry over today’s conflicts.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Adolf Hitler, Aidan McArdle, Albert Einstein, Andrew Havill, Gethin Alderman, Helena Westerman, James Musgrave, Jonathan Rhodes, Leo Ashizawa, Rachel Barry, Simon Markey, Toby Longworth

Director: Anthony Philipson