If you’re finished with finals and home for winter break, why not sit back, relax and watch a college themed movie? You’re bound to have a good laugh or wind up with a smile on your face—without picking up a book or sitting through a lecture!
With such a large selection of college movies to choose from it was tough to narrow things down, but we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the Best College Movies. They’re listed below in order of release year.
Quite possibly the most popular college comedy of all time, National Lampoon’s Animal House stars John Belushi and an entourage of other talented actors as students at Faber College in 1962. Belushi’s iconic blue COLLEGE t-shirt was featured in this film, and the United States Library of Congress selected Animal House for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2001.
A pair of nerdy freshmen played by Anthony Edwards and Robert Carradine are forced out of their dorms when the Alpha Beta fraternity burns down their own fraternity house and needs a place to live. The nerds decide it’s time to end the harassment they constantly endure from the Greeks once and for all, and wind up joining a black fraternity known as Lambda Lambda Lambda even though they have two strikes against them— they’re not black and they’re nerdy. You’ll have to watch the movie to see how things turn out, but the nerds wind up on top in this comedy classic.
Rodney Dangerfield stars as Thornton Melon, an uneducated millionaire who convinces his son to remain in college by enrolling in classes himself. Thornton—who doesn’t have a high school diploma—is presumably able to get into college after donating to the school. He gets into arguments with professors, prefers partying to studying and even hires a team of professionals to complete his assignments.
The true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, Rudy tells the tale of a working-class young man who has dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame his entire life. After refusing to give up or take no for an answer, Rudy—played by Sean Astin—eventually plays the last 27 seconds of the last home game of the season in 1975 against Georgia Tech. In 2001, Rudy was named one of the best 25 sports movies of the previous 25 years in two polls by ESPN.
This comedy-drama stars Brenden Frasier as Monty Kessler, a Harvard honors student working on his thesis, and Joe Pesci as a homeless man who gets his hands on the paper. Monty wants nothing more than to get his prized thesis back and tries his best to submit to Pesci’s demands, but the two become friends along the way in this 1994 film.
Written by and starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting was the start of the duo’s rise to stardom. Matt Damon plays Will Hunting, a hoodlum from Boston with a genius IQ that works as a janitor at MIT. He gets in trouble with the law yet avoids jail time by agreeing to study mathematics and see a therapist. The movie focuses on Will’s friendship with Ben Affleck’s character and his relationship with his therapist, played by Robin Williams.
Adam Sandler plays Bobby Boucher, a stuttering, middle-aged waterboy who is tormented by everyone around him. Bobby discovers a hidden talent he didn’t know he had when his aggression leads to football tackling. He gets a scholarship and becomes one of the most feared linebackers in college football.
Reese Witherspoon is Elle Woods, a ditzy but intelligent fashionista who is dumped by her boyfriend because he wants to become a politician and needs a relationship with someone more “serious.” Elle is somehow accepted into law school at Harvard and follows her ex there in hopes of winning him back.
Katherine Watson, a progressive art history professor at Wellesley College in the 1950s, is played by Julia Roberts. She’s appalled by the way her female students want to get married instead of prepare themselves for careers after their college graduation, and uses art to teach them a thing or two about life and all it has to offer.
21 tells the tale of a group of incredibly smart college students that used card counting techniques to beat casinos at blackjack. The movie has been criticized for its predominately white cast and the fact that most of its storylines were embellished or made up, but 21 was a box office success.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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