The Flix List: 10 movie scenes to celebrate back-to-school season

Hi folks, welcome to September! Well, to some of you, the Fall season means ‘back to school’ season. It’s been a while since my college graduation (I’m not gonna tell you how many years it’s been, ahah), sometimes I miss those fun college days. So, whether it’s you or your kids who are heading back to school/college, I thought I’d pick ten memorable scenes that get me all nostalgic about academic life. Please keep in mind this is not a ‘best of’ list as I’m sure I haven’t seen a whole bunch of movies that deserve to be on this list, the idea is to hopefully prompt you to think of other scenes that make you nostalgic about ‘back to school.’ As you can see, I have lots of 80s movies on my list πŸ˜€

Ten Things I Hate About You (1999)

I heart this movie! It’s perhaps my favorite high-school movie ever and it’s because of the chemistry between Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. I’ve dedicated a post for this movie before, and I included a scene of Heath singing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ which is one of my fave scenes from the movie. But I also love this one when Julia’s character is reading a poem (which is actually a really good one) out loud in front of her class. It’s such a genuine scene and Heath’s expression in the end is just priceless. I so miss this guy!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Yes, it’s utterly predictable of me to include a scene of HP with Alan Rickman in it, ahah. But I actually was trying to find a good classroom scene and find this one quite whimsical. Man, what I would give to have a teacher like Snape (ok, preferably without all the wizardry), but just to listen to him lecture for a full hour… I’d either end up being extremely good on the subject or utterly useless at it as I won’t be paying attention to what he’s saying at all. Anyway, I like this scene as it’s the first time we see the HP kids growing up and fussing over the homecoming dance. There is also that first hint of ‘spark’ between Hermione and Ron.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

I saw this movie ages ago, but it’s perhaps one of the most memorable movies I’ve seen back in high school. I remember being so affected by it and if you’ve seen this movie, you probably know why. This is one of my favorite work from the great Peter Weir and perhaps one of my fave Robin Williams roles who’s perfect as Prof. John Keating. I spent parts of my early years in a boarding school (not, not at all as posh as this one in New England, not even close), but I can relate to the camaraderie and being really affected by a caring and charismatic teacher. I wonder whatever happened to Robert Sean Leonard as he was really memorable here (as well as in Swing Kids), I’d think he’d have as decent a career as Ethan Hawke.


Class (1983)

Ok so it’s not as rowdy or raunchy as Old School, but Class paints a pretty fun and rambunctious picture of college life in an expensive prep school. The teen-heartthrobs of their day, Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe played roommates Jonathan and Skip, one a country boy and the other a rich and suave playboy. Things get um, complicated (and funny!) when Jonathan somehow ends up sleeping with Skip’s mother, played by the alluring Jacqueline Bisset. Yes, it’s silly at times, but what 80s movies aren’t? πŸ˜€

[I can’t find an exact scene I want to feature, so here’s the trailer instead]


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Ok, who hasn’t had a crush on a teacher before, right? I mean, especially if the teacher looks like Indiana Jones! I love this rare scene of Dr. Jones teaching in class, and definitely one of the most memorable. Jones’ expression as he tried to read what’s written on the female student’s eyelid is a hoot. Man, no wonder Indy is everyone’s favorite Harrison Ford role, he just captures the archaeology-geekiness down pat!


With Honors (1994)

Brendan Fraser starred in quite a few school-related movies in the 90s (he was also in School Ties and Glory Daze). I remember quite liking this one where he played a straitlaced Harvard student whose thesis paper is somehow being held hostage by a homeless man and of course, it ends up being the best thing that ever happened to him. Joe Pesci played the homeless guy and y’know it’s perhaps one of the more um, sympathetic roles he’s played. The classroom speech scene here is one of the highlights of the movie. Yes, it’s a bit over-idealistic and syrupy, but overall it’s got a moving and uplifting message.


The Breakfast Club (1985)

As someone growing up in the 80s, a back-to-school movie list just won’t be complete without a John Hughes movie. I didn’t go to high school in the US so I’m always fascinated by it. American high schoolers just look soooo much cooler, but there also seems to be a whole lot more pressure to fit in. The story about five very different students bonding and baring their souls to each other in detention is brilliantly directed by Hughes, starring members of the Brat Pack. This whistling scene is pretty funny, just one of the many memorable scenes from this John Hughes classic. If detention were this much fun, who wants to be in class??


A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Yet another crush-worthy college professor scene… starting to see a theme here? He..he.. actually, it’s not intentional, trust me. I just happen to think this ‘heat vs. noise’ scene is quite memorable for the palpable chemistry between Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe, even without as much as touching or even being near each other. Connelly uses not only her logic but also her feminine wiles to solve the problem at hand… “As you’ll find in a multi-variable Calculus there’s often a… number of solutions to any given problem,” he quipped … and boy, Crowe really should smile more often πŸ™‚


Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

I have a real soft spot for this Howard Deutch movie, which is also written by John Hughes. I’ve featured this in this post to commemorate Hughes’ passing back in 2009. It focuses on the quintessential teen angst and dealing with that big first crush and suffering from unrequited love… the best stuff about high school right? We’ve all been there before and I can certainly relate to what Watts is going through, though unfortunately I never became good friends with any of my crushes in high school, so Watts certainly is luckier than she thinks πŸ™‚ This is by far my favorite scene from the movie… Eric Stoltz wasn’t really my type but I couldn’t help having a major crush on him on this movie!

Spider-Man (2002)

Well, as a self-professed superhero geek, I can’t possibly not have a movie from that genre on the list. I think the first of Sam Raimi’s Spider-man has a lot of great high school scenes and capture the whole teen angst perfectly. Puberty is tough enough without having some weird, um condition like Peter Parker does and this scene in the cafeteria is funny and cool at the same time, going from pure euphoria to utter humiliation to total awesomeness seeing the nerdy kid give the cocky jock what deserved! Tobey Maguire with his melancholy puppy dog eyes was perfectly cast as the awkward teen with a heart of gold.



Well, that’s my list. Now your turn, please share your own favorite back-to-school movies and/or scenes in the comments!

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48 thoughts on “The Flix List: 10 movie scenes to celebrate back-to-school season

  1. No Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Man, that would’ve been my number one!

    But seriously, great list. I don’t like Harry Potter much but there have been some really great moments, such as that scene above.

    1. Somehow I knew someone will call me out on not having Ferris Bueller. I actually haven’t seen it (or if I did I didn’t remember). The one I forgot to put on this list is A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon w/ the young River Phoenix, I remember really loving that movie!

      You don’t like HP? Well, I came rather late to the bandwagon myself but there are really lots of good school-related scenes in them.

  2. Ted S.

    Cool list Ruth, I only saw bits and pieces of Ten Things I hate About You, just remember the very young Heath Ledger was in it. Also, I totally forgot that Brenden Fraser was the king of College films back in the early 90s. Seemed like every fall we’d see him in a film about college life. I prefer School Ties to With Honors though, somehow in the early 90s, Hollywood likes to make films about some wise homeless person. Even there was a song about some wise homeless guy that came out around that time, it was a huge hit too.

    1. Thanks Ted. I so love ‘Ten Things’ Heath is just so good in it, I mean he totally elevated it from being a run-of-the-mill high school movie. Yeah, Brendan Fraser was everywhere in the 90s. Y’know, I saw School Ties but for some reason can’t remember much about it, even though there are lots of famous people in it.

  3. Pingback: The Flix List: 10 scenes to celebrate back-to-school season … | The 80's

  4. I haven’t seen most of these, Flixy, but the schools starts 1. September here in Serbia, which is today πŸ™‚ and it reminds me of a few years I’ve spent as a High School teacher some five or six years ago. Although I did love my students (and I’m friends with most of them even today) I know that most of my colleagues take the beginning of school as the hell unleashed πŸ™‚

    1. That is so cool that you were a high school teacher, Dez. Teachers are the unsung heroes of society. Glad to hear you’re still friends w/ your students, too.

  5. Robert Sean Leonard is a major character on the TV show “House” for several years now. He was great in “Poets” I totally agree. “3 O clock High” one of my favorite high school films ever would be on my list….great 80’s movie to check out if you haven’t.

    1. Oh yeah I know, but I was wondering why Robert didn’t have a good career in movies. He was so funny in ‘My Best Friend is a Vampire’ too, I bet they’re gonna do a remake of it w/ all the vampire craze now. I’ll look up ‘3 O’Clock High’, I’ve never even heard of it.

  6. Neil Wheeler

    Not too dis-similar

    Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
    Lean on Me (1989)
    10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
    Pretty in Pink Β (1986)
    Dead Poets Society (1989)
    Lucas (1986)
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
    Heathers (1989)
    The Breakfast Club (1985)
    Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

    1. Hi Neil, welcome to FC! Great list, oh wow I forgot about Lucas, I remember Corey Haim was so huge in the 80s, he was in that movie about werewolf too, can’t remember the title. I only remember bits and pieces of Heathers, I need to rewatch that again at some point.

  7. Nice list Ruth πŸ™‚ I do miss school, especially high school and earlier when as kids, we had absolutely no responsibility whatsoever and there would be so much drama about our tiny insignificant problems.

    Ok another major movie that is missing and that hasn’t mentioned: Mean Girls!

    1. Thanks Castor, yeah I had good memories of school, from grade school all the way to college. Yeah, we thought exams and homework were so hard right, little did we know we had nothing compared to work life, ahah. I haven’t seen Mean Girls, I know you saw that because of Rachel πŸ˜‰

      1. I would highly recommend it. I actually liked Lindsay Lohan in it…unfortunately like right after that movie she started going downhill fast. I didn’t think one could damage there career so bad so fast.

        1. Y’know I believe you that Lohan was good in it, I think we talked about this before didn’t we, about Lohan I mean. I really think she wasted all the opportunities given to her, which is too bad because she does have talent. She only has herself to blame for ruining her own career.

  8. you always do the best post Ruth. I am so jealous of your creativity!!

    I used to hate those 3 words as a kid, but having kids now I LOVE them!! HAHAH

    Hope you have a good weekend my bff!!

    1. Oh my, you are way too kind, matey. You’re the one w/ the best lists, speaking of which, the Daisy podcast is adorable!!

      Ahah, somehow I thought of you when I hear kids going back to school, no doubt you enjoy that so you & Lynn can spend more time together. Enjoy your weekend, too!

  9. Hi, Ruth and company:

    Excellent list, clips and thumbnail critiques!

    In the Honorable Mention category, I’d offer:

    Rock & Roll High School
    Class of 1984
    The Paper Chase
    The Sterile Cuckoo

  10. fun list…tho I wouldn’t say I miss school like Castor did because I am at school most of the time πŸ˜‰

    That eye lids in Indi movie was really funny.If I have a professor like I would have done the same thing

    1. He..he.. yeah I suppose it’s just all in a day’s work for you. I just had to include the eyelids scene, it’s such a hoot. I’d do the same thing if I had a teacher who looked like THAT! I had a huge crush on one of my ESL teacher, I believe it was at ILP in Panglima Polem, he’s from England (where my obsession w/ British guys started ahah), but then we became friends and hung out together quite a bit so I wasn’t ‘in love’ with him anymore. He’s just sooo cool, he even learned Indonesian pretty fluently within a year!

  11. I knew a guy who used to go out with Julia Stiles. He was an aspiring actor at the time, and I think he was a little bitter that she got her break first.

    1. Oh, he should be happy for her. But I suppose it’s gotta be such a vicious industry that people fight tooth and nails to get that big break. She is very talented though, I’m surprised she’s not more famous.

  12. The one I think of that might me school related or atleast moving on to college is…American Graffiti. I absolutely love that movie and if nothing else it’s a last hurrah! to the the summer season we love so much.

      1. I won’t hate you, but that soundtrack is one of the best compilations of 50’s music ever and Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfess, and Harrison Ford make it an unmissable film.

  13. I also love ’10 Things I Hate About You’. It was my favorite high school movie. Dead Poets Society is epic, and Breakfast Club is simple but leave much impression. Salam kenal ya πŸ™‚

  14. Animal House! Fast Times at Ridgemont High! Soo funny those two. Starter for 10 is pretty cute as well. And .. Good Will Hunting where’s that?

    I actually love “education related” films. I mean, A Beautiful Mind is one of my all time favourite films.

    Should watch DPS again! And not just because of Josh Charles .. .droool

    1. Oh, I gotta see Starter For 10, that’s the one w/ McAvoy, right? Can’t believe I missed that, I love that guy.

      Yeah, education-related films often appeal to me as well, and fortunately, there are lots of good ones out there. Ah, Josh Charles, isn’t he on the Good Wife series right now?

  15. I absolutely loved the two scenes you mentioned in 10 Things I Hate About You. I even liked the parody of the serenade at the football field in “Not Another Teen Movie” (the guy sang “Janie’s Got A Gun” because the female lead’s name was Janie). And I would probably fail any class that Harrison Ford would teach because I would just be staring at him the whole time.

    The two films that come to my mind are Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink because 1) I’m an 80s child and 2) I love Molly Ringwald. My favorite school-related scene in Sixteen Candles is the note passing scene and my favorite school-related scene in Pretty in Pink is when Molly and Andrew McCarthy (sigh he’s my Brat Pack crush) were flirting via computer.

    1. Hi Sherry, glad to hear another fan of ’10 Things’ Ahah, I didn’t know there was a parody of it, but I suppose that actually mean the original movie and scene made an impact.

      Ahah, yep, totally agree about what you said about Ford, he’s just so adorable as Indy.

      I think every girl was in love w/ McCarthy in the 80s, I loved him in Mannequin also though it’s such a silly movie. So did you see Class then? He’s in almost every scene in that movie.

  16. Brilliant list and the selections just make me think how great it would have been to go to some of those schools rather than the one I went too!

    1. Hi T, he..he.. I knew you’ll love the Spider-man one, I thought of you when I posted it. Ah yeah, Billy Madison is a good one, though I like Happy Gilmore better as far as Sandler movie goes. Thanks for the clip… that chubby kid one is adorable!!

  17. This is a fantastic list!!!
    I haven’t seen all the movies that are on it, but the scenes from HP, 10 Things, Dead Poets Society, Raiders… okay, I’m starting to count every scene you included. But I love them.

    Thumbs up Ruth!

  18. Ohhh, that With Honors scene is one of my very very favorites. Good call there. Also love the Beautiful Mind one and nice little levity with Spider Man and Raiders:)

    Also I’m with Sherry above, I quite liked (even to be called defender of) Not Another Teen Movie

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