With Allegiant arriving to theaters this weekend, us at the TheYoungFolks have decided to look back at the last ten years and single out the very best of the YA genre. Deciding to not keep to stricter limitations of what YA means, the results of our poll had some obvious picks as well as some small surprises. Warm Bodies and Bridge to Terabitha both had their fans (and was involved in a pretty passionate tie breaker with the 10th spot) but failed to make the final ten. Take a look below at what YA adaptions we think are the best of the best and make sure to let us know what your favorites are as well.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist has a certain something about it. Perhaps it is the quirky characters or the scavenger hunt nature of a night these two will never forget. Personally I think it’s just that killer soundtrack featuring the likes of Devandra Banhart and Vampire Weekend. Chief among these auditory pleasures is the awesome tinkering score brought forth by former Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh. Sure Michael Cera sticks to old hat, but here it just works and when you couple that with Kat Dennings at her most charming and you get a cinematic love story for the contemporary audience. This is hipster chic, a romcom for the Whole Foods crowd. This is the story of the best night of your life. Seeing that band that has always been out of reach, meeting the girl of your dreams and getting revenge on the girl that put you in a rut to start. Where’s fluffy? Does it even matter? It’s the journey of Nick and Norah and most certainly not their destination.-William
The Fault in Our Stars is heavily lauded as John Green’s greatest novel. It’s moving, heartfelt and witty, showing that teenagers are smart, intuitive and should be given a lot more credit. That’s what The Fault in Our Stars is at its core; on the surface, it’s a love story between two terminally ill teenagers. The movie balances these two parts together very well, making it more than just about cancer while also grounding it in the realities of living with (and unfortunately dying from) the disease. Yes, it will make you cry, but it’s one of the few tearjerkers that earns your tears with sincere and wonderful performances, especially from Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern.-Gaby
From the mind of Neil Gaiman came Coraline, adapted into a stop motion film by Laika Studio that’s just as likely to frighten younger viewers as it is their parents. Gothic in it’s design and wholly imaginative, each new corner offering up some new terror, Coraline gets into the mind of a bored, lonely young girl where an alternate world with a doting mother is less than ideal. Eyes are replaced with buttons, mothers turn into spider humanoids and hallways into nightmarish kaleidoscopes. Jam packed with inventive visuals and a story with a whole lot of heart, subdued as it is, Coraline reminds us not only to seek out adventure but to also appreciate what we have, especially the little things. -Allyson
Harry Potter worked, but that was whimsical and magic filled. Twilight worked, but that had obsessive vampire romance to draw in the teenage girls. The question on everybody’s mind in 2012 was, would the gritty, harshly violent, socially conscientious and post apocalyptic Hunger Games translate to screen as well as it did on the page? The film certainly had a nice pedigree, with critical darling Gary Ross behind the camera, and recently Oscar nominated newcomer Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role as Katniss Everdeen, but it was a hard tone to get right. However, Ross and company did just that, crafting a film that created a world unlike any other in this genre. Many complained about Ross’ decision to film with a borderline documentary style handy-cam, but that just might be what holds his film together. Since the budget here was considerably lower than most films of this type, Ross draws outside the lines by making this story in the absurd world of Panem seem taken from the very reality shows that they hold so dear. It helps that Lawrence was a revelation in the lead role, with Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and a host of veteran actors providing nice support. The foundation was certainly improved on in Catching Fire, but with this hugely successful film Ross set the bar for every film working inside the YA post-apocalypse genre. -Michael
If we’re at all honest about high school, we might see that underneath all the fond memories, first times, and no-care euphoria is repressed discomfort, an angst that is so strong you don’t even realize it’s there. Sutter, a senior who is the self-proclaimed life of every party, actively performs this nostalgia even as his high school memories are still forming. Aimee Finecky, a shy girl next door type, breaks out of her shell when she meets Sutter. He is looking for a rebound; she has never been given much attention. Their hangs up align and they start dating. Like Say Anything, Risky Business or some of the other best films in the coming of age genre, James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now pierces through the surface haze of nostalgia to find both bliss and heartache in universal memories. With great performances from Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, who melts my heart each time I see the film, this adaptation of the novel of the same name by Tim Tharp is a new classic -Joshua
Coming-of-age films are often guilty for trying to manipulate our emotions without properly laying the groundwork. They want us to feel something for these poorly developed characters and their problems. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a beacon of hope in the inundated world of young adult fiction films. Instead of starting off heavy-handed with the pathos, the film builds us up with its humor, slowly cultivating each character just to pull the rug from under us when we are completely emotionally invested. It’s wonderfully devastating and a testament to great filmmaking in a world of films that try to pander to the naivety of youth. -Jon E.
Based on the book by the same name by Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon is one of the only Dreamworks films that go toe to toe with Pixars finest. If the series tends to lean into easier comedic beats more often than their prestigious counterparts, they more than made up for it in their unbelievable scope. Both installments are superbly executed (I tend to tip the scale in favor of the 2014 sequel), focusing on one of storytelling’s oldest tricks, the relationship between a boy and his pet. It just so happens that this time round the boy is a viking in training and the pet is a dragon. The world they inhabit is a vast one, with grand sweeping flight sequences demonstrating not only that world but the artistry that went into crafting it. Not afraid to show real consequences of war and allowing the weight of ones actions time to play out, the How to Train Your Dragon series is a vibrant spectacle of world building, honest character growth and top notch animation.-Allyson
In the biggest surprise of that year, Marin Scorsese proved he could make a family film and if you were to ask this writer, it ranks amongst his very best. With strong performances from Asa Butterfield, Sacha Baron Cohen and especially Ben Kingsley as the filmmaking pioneer George Melies, Hugo captures the marvelous, all encompassing nature of a great movie. Equal parts adventure and character study with a tangible heart about a lost boy who find happiness and family in film, Hugo demonstrates an acute intuition of what narrative elements taps into childlike wonder. Based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Hugo was a towering achievement in telling an old story in a way that feels universal. -Allyson
Many a film has been made out of the agony of being a teen but few have done it to such a degree of excellence as Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Adapted by his own immensely popular book, he softened the edges, got rid of some of the more trite and insufferable dialogue, creating an emotionally riveting film. Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller shine in their respective roles with Lerman creating a character so tightly wound from his own insecurities both self-inflected and born from the betrayal and abuse of a family member and his heartache is palpable, making us hurt along with him. The film understands the odd, disjointed nature of being a teenager, of not knowing what to make of those around them while also being told to grow up. It captures the characters happier moments with a confident, carefree gaze that highlights just why our protagonist would want to hang out with them in the first place.-Allyson
As Potter fans we can argue about whether or not the films truly did the series justice but it’s hard to deny that the films did something special, even unique regarding the cinematic landscape. Eight films that always did relatively well in the critical praise vein and massively well in terms of general audience-there’s been nothing else like it, save maybe the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Transporting us totally and completely into a world of equal measure wonder and consequence, where the hero of our story was an abused boy who became a selfless lead, it was hard for millennials not to feel a physical loss once the series ended. For so long the trio and their escapades had accompanied us on long car rides, through new school years and friendships, through happy moments in our adolescence and otherwise when we needed a good book to cheer us up, that the films, after the last page of the book had been turned, were the lifeline the fans reached for. The movies achieved something great, if at times imperfect, because it’s audience grew with it’s characters, each new adventure leading to something magical.-Allyson