Plugged In Movie Awards: Best Movies for Teens

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PIMA teens

We’re in our second day of unveiling nominees for our world-renowned, mightily coveted Plugged In Movie Awards. And in this installment, we turn our attention to movies suitable for teens.

This doesn’t mean that they’re solely for teens, of course. Many adults don’t mind watching superheroes do their thing. By default, this tends to be where PG-13 blockbusters land—the movies most fans flock to in droves. But we almost always find room for some lesser-known gems, and this year is no exception.

Remember to chime in with your thoughts, too. Pick your favorite among our nominees or, if you think we whiffed on one, choose your own. Let us know your own favorites down below, on our Facebook page or on Twitter, if you’re so inclined. You’ll have until Feb. 15 to vote. Winners will be announced Feb. 22.

Black Panther: “It’s hard for a good man to be king.” And so it is. But Wakanda’s King T’Challa, otherwise known as Black Panther, knows no other way to be. Using his superhuman skill, his wits and his good heart, T’Challa must save his realm from the clutches of the usurper Killmonger, and in so doing perhaps set an example for all. Black Panther made history this year, becoming the first superhero movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. And while people can debate whether it’s really the best superhero movie ever, there’s no question that Black Panther is just as important as it is fun—and let’s face it, it’s pretty fun. Yes, there’s plenty of violence to navigate, along with a bit of bad language. But T’Challa is no fractured antihero: He’s as good as they come. And he and his bevy of heroic helpers turn this film into a surprisingly complex, resonant fable about doing the right thing … and making up for past mistakes.

Little Women: A heartwarming rendition of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, set in modern day, Little Women shines bright. Filled with messages of familial love, acceptance, perseverance and forgiveness, it shows families just how important it is to stick together, especially through tough times. And it teaches us to support other peoples’ dreams, even when they’re not the same as ours. There’s some sibling rivalry, a few kisses, some sexual innuendo and sips of alcohol. But overall, it’s a sweet story about the power of family.

The Miracle Season: Caroline Found, best known as “Line” to her friends and teammates, was the heart and soul of Iowa City West’s state-winning volleyball team. She was its best player, its most boisterous cheerleader and its most infectious jokester. But when she’s killed in a tragic accident, everyone who knew her—especially her best-friend, Kelly and her father, Ernie— wonders how life can go on when someone so full of it can be cut down. This inspiring, faith-flecked sports movie digs into that question earnestly. It finds that even in the aftermath of tragic death, hope, joy and rebirth can still be found. And it suggests that while Line might be gone physically, her spirit goes on.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: There’s a new friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in New York City … well, a couple of them actually. Peter Parker, the city’s long-standing hero, has gone down. And thanks to the mob boss, Kingpin—who’s been messing with the space/time continuum—Spider-beings from all sorts of different dimensions are being drawn into ours.  This is definitely a colorfully animated pic that shoots its cinematic webbing in a number of stylistically creative directions. It’s exhilarating, fast, and at times, laugh-out-loud funny. It also webs in messages of family love and heroism that are both moving and inspiring. The only drawbacks are a couple bloodless deaths in the tale that could upset the younger Spidey fans in your group.

Tomb Raider: In this tale, young Lara Croft isn’t an explorer. She’s just a young woman whose life has been left empty since her father’s disappearance. Lara’s dad, Lord Richard Croft, was obsessed with exploring for supernatural things. It took him to far reaches of the globe and, most people believe, to his death. But when Lara is given a strange Japanese puzzle found in her father’s effects, it draws her into an adventure that she never would have dreamed of taking. When you hear the name Lara Croft, you may think of old video games with a certain, uh, reputation. But this cinematic Lara is different. She’s focused, heroic, brilliant and tough. Granted, there is still some well-toned flesh on display and lots of derriere-kicking to go around. But this Lara Croft does female empowerment right. And her rollicking bold-and-brave choices are worthy of emulation.

(All movie capsules written by Adam Holz, Bob Hoose, Kristin Smith and Paul Asay.)

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 5 months ago
3 for Black Panther and 2 for Miracle season
Anonymous 5 months ago
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Awesome JediE 6 months ago
Into the Spider-verse. The amount of love and hard work put into that film really shines. I’ve seen most of the other ones and didn’t have much to take away. Yet Spider-verse kept me thinking about what being a hero really means.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Elective movie (Only "Teen" movie I watched last year)
Overboard. (It won't win I know.)
-Anon-O-Miss
Jacqui Torena 6 months ago
My 2 top picks are: 1) Black Panther & 2) Miracle Season
Teal Neighbors 6 months ago
Into the Spider-Verse. Such an incredible movie.
Jack Koehler 6 months ago
Black Panther gets my vote, although Tomb Raider was my second choice. Haven't seen any of the others though lol
Anonymous 6 months ago
To this day, I still sit down and wonder just what on Earth the point of PureFlix's Little Women adaptation was in the first place...

-Evan
Anonymous 6 months ago
That's my reaction to 90% of PureFlix movies......
-David the Clown
Anonymous 6 months ago
An accurate question for their filmography.

(Especially because I just found out that another company is making a more accurate adaptation of the same book this year.)

-Evan
Anonymous 6 months ago
PureFlix has done similar things in the past. As soon as some secular studio announces a film they are making on a certain book or event, PureFlix comes in and does the same thing. Except its a lot cheesier and has some vague spiritual message about loving people or something....
-David the Clown 
Veronica Pyle 6 months ago
Once again, Black Panther is the only one I've seen, so it gets my vote. I've heard nothing but good things about Into the Spider-Verse and I really want to see it but I'm a broke teenager so... here we are.
Eva Schon 6 months ago
I adored Little Women so I'm voting for it.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Black Panther.  Although I'd argue that adults can enjoy it as much as teens.
Cj lastrue 6 months ago
Nomination: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
[removed] 6 months ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous 6 months ago
My friend, if you think that this comment section is toxic, then I doubt that you have ever read any others.
I'm a online gamer myself, and I can tell you that nothing here comes close to what gets said on video game forums.
-David the Clown
Anonymous 6 months ago
No I understand that this isn't actually toxic compared to most things. I've been on those forums also. Just surprised I guess at how strong the opinions are on here.
Anonymous 6 months ago
So Christians shouldn't have strong opinions?

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
Wow.....you can't even mention him....that seems to be taking it a little too far...
-David the Clown
Anonymous 6 months ago
You can't even mention who? He Who Must Not Be Named?

Posted By A-Non-Mouse

P.S. 
Will you enclose a link to one of the pages where He Who Must Not Be Named was on here and posting?
Anonymous 6 months ago
I can't even do that! All of Him Who Shall Not Be Named's posts have been deleted!
Sadly, you will never get to see the glorious battles that took place on these blogs.....
-David the Clown
Anonymous 6 months ago
Is there a post banning He Who Must Not Be Named? And why was He Who Must Not Be Named banned?

Posted By A-Non-Mouse

P.S. 
It seems a bit much to delete ALL of He Who Must Not Be Named's posts...
Anonymous 6 months ago
Also, when did He Who Must Not Be Named get banned? I want to go back and see those posts lol even though they're not there.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
This one was my favorite. https://pluggedin.focusonthefamily.com/culture-clips-the-rock-is-dead-rap-reigns-edition/ 
Pretty much all of the "deleted comments" are from Him Who Shall Not be Named.He started giving links to Alt-right websites lol
-David the Clown
Anonymous 6 months ago
Lol. 

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Inkfeather1 6 months ago
Lol, he got banned? About time xD I haven't been on in a really long time so this is a nice surprise to come back to.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Well, it is fun to watch people with terrible opinions try and convince others that they are right... And lol that he started posting alt-right website links. I read all the comments and it seemed like it was a lively chat!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
Because people, like me, have such strong opinions on stuff that they want to make sure they're heard, over and over and over again.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I actually find these blogs to be a nice break from the more intense online threads.
-David the Clown
Anonymous 6 months ago
Yeah. We were right Spider-Verse is in the teen's category.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
Also, what in the world is Tomb Raider doing on this list? Infinity War was so much better as was Ant-Man and the Wasp (those both were better than Black Panther IMO as well, but what can you do?)

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
So to conclude, Spider-Verse gets my vote.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
Yeah, Tomb Raider does not belong here......
-David the Clown
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Ant-Man and the Wasp was fun and enjoyable, but it definitely wasn't in the same league as Black Panther.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Ant-Man 2 was the only other superhero movie besides Spiderman that I watched last year. It was decent.
-David the Clown
Anonymous 6 months ago
Honestly Black Panther was good, but it wasn't great IMO.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Jack Koehler 6 months ago
Yes Ant-Man and the Wasp should've been on here
Rocketshipper 7 months ago
I suspect two possible reasons for spiderverse being on the teen list.   

One: it’s more intense and realistically violent than incredibles 2.  The characters are more realistically proportioned, the action is more intense and more destructive and damaging overall, and the film has several prominent deaths that could be intense for kids

The second reason I imagine is brand issues.  Incredibles 2 is a Pixar movie, and Pixar’s “brand” is family friendly kids movies, like Toy Story and Wall-E.   Meanwhile spiderman’s Brand is “marvel superheroes”, which primarily means live action PG-13 violent sometimes problematic films.   So outside of the films themselves, incredibles invokes movies that are more kid appropriate, while Spiderman invokes movies for teens and adults 
Rocketshipper 7 months ago
Bah!  Tomb Raider?  We’re the pickings so slim that was one of your only choices? The Angelina Jolie movies were way better then that boring reboot.  

I vote spiderverse as the best of these options 
Anonymous 7 months ago
Into The Spider-Verse for the win.  Also.  Black Panther?  But not Infinity War?  Whack.
Tim Page 7 months ago
Spiderverse hands down. 
Anonymous 7 months ago
I vote for Spiderverse, but I don't see why it shouldn't have been on the Kids list rather than the Teen list, especially since the content of some other films on this list is so much harsher. Heck, even Incredibles 2 had worse content, so what gives?
Julienne Dy 7 months ago
That's the tricky thing about these nominations.  :-/  Sometimes, it isn't just about the objectionable content.  I don't work for PluggedIn, but I think the staff also had to consider which audience would be most inspired by a movie's message.  I mean, Spiderverse had a lot more emotional nuances to sort through than Incredibles 2, and not being able to understand those nuances would make it pretty easy for kids to miss the message.  I mean, sure a kid could watch and enjoy Spiderverse.  They might even get the "anyone can wear the mask" message at the end, but Miles's initial longing for and lack of purpose,  his fear of failure, and his self-doubt might go a bit over their heads.  The strained nature of his relationship between him, his dad, and his uncle might be a little difficult to grasp also.
Inkfeather1 6 months ago
I agree. I don't think these categories are base off of questionable content, but more on who the movie was intended for. Being a more mature film isn't always about how much bad is shown.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I didn't see a single one of these movies and honestly didn't want to either. I think Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald or even Mary Poppins Returns deserve to be on this list more than anything really.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Well, Fantastic Beasts wasn't as well received by critics. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Granted it's not nearly as good as the Harry Potter films (except it's better than Goblet of Fire and The Sorcerer's Stone.), but I agree with you, it was much better than Tomb Raider or Miracle Season. 

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
charitysplace 6 months ago
Fantastic Beasts 2 was a hot mess. :P
Jamey Perrigin 7 months ago
Spiderverse is easily my favorite movie off this list, and probably my favorite movie of the year. I see why people are confused about the category it's placed in, but for me it easily tops any of the other movies on this list.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Into the Spider Verse for all categories. No substitutions, no other options. We're done here.

-Evan
Julienne Dy 7 months ago
I've, strangely enough, have seen more movies from this list.  Out of the three I've seen, I honestly liked Into the Spiderverse best, so that gets my vote.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Lol, Tomb Raider got on this list instead of Infinity War or Aquaman… Wow
Julienne Dy 7 months ago
I haven't seen Aquaman, but I wouldn't have put Infinity War on this list either.  I mean, it was a good movie, but GOSH!  It made me so mad, SO MAD!  They killed Vision TWICE!  TWICE!  As if killing him once wasn't heartbreaking enough!  "hysterical weeping"
Anonymous 6 months ago
SPOILER ALERT!
I'm just kidding I've seen it like 10 times.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
I Forgot about Aquaman! It or Fantastic Beasts should be on here instead of Tomb Raider or Miracle Season.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Ward Redman 7 months ago
I have seen most of the films on this list, and I'm going to have to cast my vote for Black Panther. It features a great message about racial equality, and it's a great superhero film in general. Spider Verse was spectacular, but I honestly think it belongs in the kids category, even though it's arguably better than Black Panther as a movie. Tomb Raider was a great big "meh" for me- while it's certainly better than most other video game movies, it didn't really do that much for me. The Miracle Season was good- it features strong performances across the board as well as a solid message about dealing with loss, but it was a little too cheesy at times for me. I have not seen Little Women, so I can't give my opinion.

Pretty solid list overall- only change I would make is to remove Tomb Raider and replace it with Infinity War, which was easily my favorite film of 2018.