Day Dreamer

9 Dark Academia Movies You Can’t Afford to Miss

Dark Academia is an aesthetic that has come about in early 2020 that perfectly encapsulates the emotions of a brooding young scholar. This aesthetic is manifested through clothes, decor, books, and the love of traditional academia.  We’re going to go through some of the top “dark academia” movies that showcase the subtlety of this subculture and how it’s the perfect aesthetic to bring in winter and fall.

1. Love Story, 1970

Love Story is a romantic movie about two young adults in their twenties who met during their college years. Both are in the active pursuit of careers and come from completely different backgrounds. This movie features Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal and is considered one of the most romantic movies of all time despite its tragic ending. Love Story is packed with stunning 70’s inspired collegiate wear.

2. Harry Potter, 2001-2011

It may seem like an unusual choice but one of Harry Potter’s most exciting elements is Hogwarts. The studiousness and seriousness of Hogwarts made young adults everywhere romanticize their own education and dream of getting lost among bookshelves and in hidden quarters of their school.

harry potter classroom

3. Cruel Intentions, 1999

 Cruel intentions puts the dark in dark academia. This movie follows 4 high schoolers as they recklessly push boundaries and discover the difference between love and lust. Bonus points for 90’s school girl outfits that no doubt have influenced the current dark academia aesthetic.

cruel intentions dark academia

1. Good Will Hunting, 1998 

Good Will Hunting follows a 20 something genius named Will Hunting as he moves from being a Janitor to a student at Harvard. This movie makes one question their own inner potential as well as their shortcomings in the same way Will Hunting must discover his. Good Will Hunting won Best Original Screen Play at the 1998 Academy Awards.

good will hunting matt damon
goodwill hunting robin williams

5. Dead Poets Society, 1989

Of all of the movies on this list, the one that SCREAMS Dark Academia the most is Dead Poets Society. One of Robin Williams’ most iconic films explores the pressures of a demanding all-boys school and what it means to be a young adult spearheading towards a life full of potential.


7. The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999

Although The Talented Mr. Ripley doesn’t take place in a traditional college setting it makes the list for its collegiate aesthetic and suspenseful plot. The Talented Mr. Ripley is an inquisitive, mind-melding movie about motives, morality, and how the small white lies build-up to ruin lives.

8. The Queens Gambit, 2020 

Although this is not a movie but a mini-series, we included it because of its perfect representation of dark academia. One could argue The Queens Gambit was a major figurehead in spearheading the rise of this subculture as its main character, Elizabeth Harmon, dazzles throughout the movie with her intelligence, beauty, and killer academic style.

the queens gambit dark academia

9. Kill Your Darlings, 2013

If you’re a fan of the 1950’s beatnik movement, you will love Kill Your Darlings. This film follows the infamous Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Lucien Carr as they challenge traditional academia and create their own free-form style of literature. 

dark academia kill your darlings