The 5 Best College Movies of the 2010s

By Brandon Sasserson on April 14, 2020

Many college movies tend to focus on the more boisterous parts of college life: partying, sports, sex, and even… murder. Others concern themselves with the more rigorous aspects of higher-level academia, such as activism and art. We can all agree that college movies make a faulty substitute for the actual experience, but with campuses across the country being vacated, they may be students’ only way of reconnecting with the wild ride, that is, life as a college student.

So, I put together a list of the five best college movies of the 2010s (in no particular order). Hopefully one, if not all of the films listed can offer a brief intermission from the suffocating boringness of social distancing. I included college movies from each of the two categories I described above. Some are inspiring and zealous, while others are rambunctious and silly. However, all of them should be entertaining enough to pull you out of the numbing grips of quarantine monotony. Enjoy (all alone by yourself)!

5.  Neighbors Series

An obvious choice, Seth Rogen and Zach Efron head two laugh-packed battles in the “Neighbors” movies. As enemies in the first film and allies in the sequel, the lead duo is electric on-screen. Efron’s brashness and bravado supremely melds with Rogen’s soft and clumsy style whether they are working together or feuding. Rose Byrne’s performance as Rogen’s bubbly and quirky wife also adds a great chunk of laughs throughout the two films. Screwy antics and mischievous gags make for slapstick hilarity. Both college movies are also laced with witty jokes and sharp one-liners, as well. They are certainly the funniest college movies from the 2010s.

4. Whiplash

“Whiplash” follows an aspiring Jazz drummer, played by Miles Teller, as he journeys through the most pristine music program in the country. His instructor, played by J.K. Simmons, ruthlessly demands excellence from his students and will push them to the very brink of their capabilities. The plot is full of mind-bending surprises that have heightened immediacy and impact because of the director, Damien Chazelle’s, ability to manipulate pace and his viewers’ expectations. Teller and Simmons both put on powerful, emotionally charged performances that are rooted in passion, resentment, and revenge. “Whiplash” leaves its viewer with a confusing mix of inspiration and darkness by its unmissable conclusion.

3. Dear White People

As a satirical film set in an Ivy League school that is enthralled with racial tensions, “Dear White People” pokes fun at the ways college, film, and other societal constructs fall short in their treatment and perception of minorities. The 2014 film, which led way for the current “Dear White People” Netflix Series that is entering its fourth season, is a very heavy watch that weaves in several ideologies and perspectives on mainly race but extends into other social questions. However, the experimental approaches of director Justin Simmons, whether it be through cinematography or character, offer entertaining peaks in the social commentary. Similar to the outreaching themes of “Dear White People,” the characters in the film are dense and strewn into a perplexing web of personalities and relationships. Watch this college movie if you’re looking for something both substantive and entertaining, but mostly substantive.

2. Everybody Wants Some!!!

This comedy film follows a freshman boy as he learns the ropes of the baseball team, nightlife, and college ladies. “Everybody Wants Some!!!” is a glowing joy ride from start to finish. Although it can be extremely cheesy at times to the point of cringing, the gang of hooligans that make up the baseball team carries the film with chuckle-worthy blunders and ball-busting. The college movie’s young and relatively unknown cast brings great energy and authenticity to the flick. In particular, Wyatt Russel was extremely hilarious as the veteran party animal in the group. “Everybody Wants Some!!!” is certainly the most COLLEGE out of all of the college movies listed.

1. Happy Death Day Series

Starring Jessica Roth, “Happy Death Day” is about a girl in college who keeps on reliving the day she is murdered. Both Groundhog Day styled films are thrilling, high adrenaline horror. Although, it was a bit of a surprise that the team behind the original decided to pursue a sequel, as the plot of the film seemed to have no room to continue on. Nonetheless, “Happy Death Day 2u” garnered fairly positive reviews from critics and good box office numbers, despite the recycled plot. Both films are convincingly suspenseful and execute the “who done it?” formula in a fresh, unique way. Don’t expect the writing of “Dear White People,” the artistry of “Whiplash” or the jazziness of “Everybody Wants Some!!!,” but both “Happy Death Day” movies are noteworthy slashers of the 2010s.

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