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Last Updated: January 21, 2021
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Have you ever started watching a good movie and absentmindedly wondered what genre (or category) it belonged to? Or you’re trying to figure out your favorite genre of movie and realized you don’t even know the genre of your favorite film? This article will guide you through the steps of determining a film’s genre.
Method 1 of 12: Drama
- 1 Identify drama. Drama movies are usually about characters that face realistic struggles in life, and tend to not include lots of violence.
- 2 Notice if the movie mostly takes place in a courtroom. If it does, then it’s probably a courtroom drama. Some examples are A Few Good Men and Anatomy of a Murder.
- 3 Notice if the movie focuses on the trials of nurses, doctors, surgeons and/or their patients, it might be a medical drama. On TV, some examples of medical dramas are House M.D. and Grey’s Anatomy. Medical dramas are perhaps rarer in film form, but think Philadelphia or Lorenzo’s Oil for drama films that cover serious medical and social topics.
- 4 Notice if the movie is about legal matters, such as lawyers or civil litigation. If it does, it’s most likely a legal drama. This sub-genre includes films such as Presumed Innocent and To Kill a Mockingbird.
- 5 Identify if the movie is about political matters, it might be a political drama. Bridge of Spies and Thirteen Days are included in this genre.
- 6 Identify whether the film is about the characters’ psych. This is a psychodrama. Use movies like Vertigo and A Streetcar Named Desire as an example.
- 7 Notice whether the drama is meant to appeal strongly to your emotions. This is a melodrama. Movies like Make Way For Tomorrow and Rain Man fall under this category.
- 8 Determine whether the article is historical and is destined to end in tragedy. This sub-genre includes films like Titanic and Schindler’s List. Advertisement
Method 2 of 12: Action
- 1 Identify action movies. These movies are known for having little plot and tons of explosions, car chases, gun fights, and violence.
- 2 Identify martial arts action movies. These movies typically feature numerous fights, ninjas, and actors who are martial artists in real life. Some martial arts movies are Karate Kid and Mortal Kombat.
- 3 Notice if the movie features sci-fi elements, such as futuristic guns, space battles, etc. This is the sci-fi action category. A few movies that belong to this sub-genre are the Terminator and Matrix franchise.
- 4 Notice if the film features escapism, stylized fights, cool cars, and, well, spies. If it does, it’s most likely a spy film. Movies in this genre include the Bond, Bourne, and Mission: Impossible franchises.
- 5 Notice if the film features a flamboyant villain and a race against the clock. Sometimes, this is just a normal element of the action genre, but if the film as a whole centers around this ticking clock and has elements of suspense and anxiety, such as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, you might be watching an action-thriller.
- 6 Notice if the film includes lots of action, but has a slow and dramatic build up of tension. This is an action suspense. Films like Dirty Harry, The Dark Knight, and the Bourne franchise have these elements.
- 7 Notice if the plot centers around a chase, whether it be cars or on foot. This is a chase or speed film. Movies such as Bullitt and the Fast And Furious franchise belong to this sub-genre.
- Remember to evaluate the setting of the film. Some films, like the Mad Max movies, are chase films, but take place in more exotic and special locations, as opposed to the cityscape of the Fast And Furious movies. This means Mad Max would be more of a sub-genre of adventure than of action.
- 8 Determine whether the action and plot take place on a large scale. This is an epic film. Consider films such as Braveheart and Gladiator.
- 9 Evaluate whether the film centers around a grand escape. This is obviously the escape film, and you can use films like Escape From Alcatraz and The Count Of Monte Cristo as reference.
- Escape films are sometimes considered a sub-genre of adventure instead of action. It’s up to you to choose.
- 10 Decide whether the movie is a heroic bloodshed movie. This is a sub-genre of the Hong Kong action genre, and while it features tons of violence, it also incorporates themes of redemption, brotherhood, duty, and honour. Use films like A Better Tomorrow and The Killer as references.
- 11 Notice of the movie is largely about superheroes. This is the vast superhero sub-genre. Movies like Doctor Strange, the Captain America franchise, and Black Panther fit into this genre.
- 12 Identify whether the movie is largely about antiheroes. Antiheroes are complicated vigilantes that blur the lines between good and bad and do bad things in the name of being good. American History X, Watchmen, and Dredd all prominently feature antiheroes, as an example. Advertisement
Method 3 of 12: Crime
- 1 Identify crime films. Crime films usually center either on the perpetrator or investigator of a crime.
- You could consider crime a sub-genre of the action movie.
- 2 Determine if the movie pokes fun at the tropes of crime films or makes light of it all. This is crime comedy. Use movies like Mafia! and Pain & Gain as guidelines.
- 3 Notice if the movie has themes of suspense and surprise. This is a crime thriller. Movies like Silence Of The Lambs, Heat, and The Call belong to this grim, often terrifying sub-genre.
- 4 Determine whether the movie is a film noir. Film noirs are black and white films that more often than not center around crime. Classic films like The Maltese Falcon and Kiss Me Deadly are categorized as film noirs.
- There’s more information on this interesting genre down below.
- 5 Notice if a heist is a major plot point. This is, well, a heist film. Movies such as Oceans 11 and Reservoir Dogs are examples of this sub-genre.
- 6 Notice if the film is a hood film. These films center around African American urban crime, and movies like Boyz N The Hood and Menace II Society fit into this category.
- 7 Evaluate whether the film is a mob film. These film center around gangs/gangsters, mafia, and the mobs. Scarface, GoodFellas, and The Godfather movies are classified as such.
- 8 Understand if the movie is a Mumbai crime film. Mumbai crime films depict crime in India. Laal Rang and Thari fit into this category.
- You probably won’t see a Mumbai crime film without your knowledge, as it’s a much more popular genre in Indian cinema rather than Hollywood.
- 1 Notice whether the film is a mystery film. Does it center around the trials of a detective and his endeavors to solve a mystery? If so, it’s most likely a mystery film. Use movies like The Big Sleep and The Thin Man as a guideline.
- 2 Evaluate whether the movie’s about the police and their (realistic) activities. This is the police procedural. M, The French Connection, and Fargo all go in the sub-genre.
- 3 Notice whether the movie, unlike a mystery film, doesn’t reveal the criminal to you until the very end. This is a whodunnit movie. Whodunits place you in the shoes of the detective, and give you clues along the way so you have a chance to solve the mystery as well. Use movies like Murder By Death and Gosford Park as a guideline. Advertisement
Method 4 of 12: Adventure
- 1 Identify adventure movies. They typically feature exotic locations where the protagonist has been stranded or has traveled to. These said exotic locations are usually islands, jungles, or some kind of frozen wasteland.
- 2 Identify swashbuckler films. These typically feature a mixture of witty banter, numerous sword fights, a flamboyant protagonist trying to save a damsel, and a Western European setting. Some well known swashbuckler films are the Zorro franchise and The Princess Bride.
- 3 Notice if the protagonist has been stranded in the wilderness, typically by him/herself. This is a survival movie. Deliverance, The Revenant, and 127 Hours fall into this category.
- 4 Notice if the movie centers around pirates. If yes, it’s most likely a pirate film. Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Treasure Island belong to this sub-genre.
- 5 Notice if the film centers around a huge natural disaster with much collateral damage. This is a disaster film. Movies like The Towering Inferno and Cloverfield are disaster films. Advertisement
Method 5 of 12: Western
- 1 Identify Western movies. These movies typically take place in the American Midwest, and have a 95% chance of having Clint Eastwood in them.
- 2 Find out whether the movie has an Italian director. If so, it’s known as a spaghetti western. Movies like For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly are spaghetti westerns.
- Although “spaghetti western” is a slightly derogatory term, remember that some of the most famous movies of all time were directed by Italian people.
- 3 Determine how large the scale of the movie is. If it’s a pretty vast movie, it’s probably an epic western. Use movies like The Magnificent Seven and Once Upon A Time In The West as a reference.
- 4 Notice if any of the main characters are outlaws (typically the protagonist). This is an outlaw film. Look to films like The Last Outlaw and Tombstone for an idea.
- 5 Determine whether the film centers around a Marshal. If so, it’s most likely a marshall western. Movies like True Grit and Hang ‘Em High fall into this sub-genre.
- 6 Notice whether the protagonist’s (or antagonist’s) main motivation is vengeance. This is a revenge western. Look to films like Unforgiven, Django, and Django Unchained for help.
- 7 Look for neo-westerns. These are modern movies that have been inspired by works of the past, and feature many of the elements that make up a classic western. These are films like No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, and the Coen brothers’ True Grit.
- 8 Look for comedy westerns. These are self explanatory—westerns with comedic elements in them, or even satires of typical westerns. Look to films such as Mel Brook’s hilarious Blazing Saddles, McLintock!, or Back to the Future Part 3. Advertisement
Method 6 of 12: War
- 1 Identify war movies. They deal with, obviously, war, and highlight certain aspects of it, such as the horrors of combat or the perseverance of soldiers.
- 2 Recognize documentary/biographical war movies. These are very popular, as war often brings to light very interesting characters. Famous movies like Schindler’s List, Patton, Glory, and American Sniper are all categorized as such.
- 3 Identify propaganda films. Propaganda films present subjective biases and attempt to convince the viewer to feel a certain way about a specific war, or war in general. Look to 1915’s The Birth of a Nation, Casablanca, and Battleship Potemkin.
- 4 Identify submarine war films. While lots of movies, such as the cult classic Yellow Submarine and Wes Anderson’s polarizing The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, feature submarines, movies like Dass Boot, The Hunt for Red October, and Crimson Tide all feature war from an underwater perspective.
- 5 Look out for prisoner of war movies. These focus on POWs and their plight. Look to movies like Bridge on River Kwai and The Deer Hunter.
- 6 Look for war comedies. Since war is such a controversial and heavy subject, many directors attempt to make light of it, like in the films War Dogs, Dr. Strangelove, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Charlie Chaplin’s beloved classic, The Great Dictator.
- 7 Look out for animated war films. These aren’t as common, but still exist. Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir fall into this underrated genre.
- 8 Learn to recognize anti war movies. Most everyone will agree that war is a terrible thing, and as a consequence, most films portray war in a negative light. However, some films go out of their way to show the disturbing effects of war. Some could even be considered psychological horrors because of their disturbing themes. Movies like All Quiet On The Western Front, Platoon, and, most of all, Francis Ford Coppola’s disturbing Apocalypse Now all fall into this category.
- 9 Evaluate what war the movie depicts. After you have found the subgenre of the film, try to notice the war the movies takes place during. Most of the time, it will be obvious, but some films are set during a war, but the war is only a backdrop.
- World War I: Wonder Woman (2017), Paths of Glory, All Quiet On the Western Front
- World War II: Dunkirk, Saving Private Ryan, Inglorious Basterds
- Civil War: Glory, Shenandoah
- Revolutionary War: The Patriot, Revolution
- Iraq War: The Hurt Locker, Thank You For Your Service, Jarhead
- Vietnam War: M*A*S*H, The Deer Hunter, Platoon, First Blood
- Afghanistan War: Charlie Wilson’s War, Lone Survivor
Method 7 of 12: Fantasy
- 1 Identify fantasy films. Fantasy films can be hard to categorize, as they can overlap with other genres. Usually, though, they feature supernatural forces, alien species, magic, and entities that can wield said magic.
- 2 Identify High Fantasy films. Movies like this have many different characters, and often feature sprawling worlds for the characters to inhabit. Popular films like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Hobbit franchises fall into this category.
- 3 Identify fairy tales. These typically feature a whimsical setting, unambiguously moral characters, and the famous happily ever after ending. Shrek is a fairy tale movie.
- 4 Identify whether the movie has fantasy elements but takes place in modern day. This is called a contemporary fantasy. The Harry Potter series is one such example.
- 5 Notice if the fantastical elements take place in a city, whether from the future, past, or modern day. This an urban fantasy film. Movies such as Nightbreed and Nightwatch are in this sub-genre.
- The urban fantasy sub-genre is like “genreception”, since it’s technically a sub-genre of contemporary fantasy.
- 6 Notice any dark themes within the fantasy movie. If you do notice any, you’re probably watching a dark fantasy movie. Films like Pan’s Labyrinth and Edward Scissorhands fall into this category.
- 7 Notice if the film is a sword and sorcery movie. Use movies like Conan the Barbarian and Deathstalker as a reference. Advertisement
Method 8 of 12: Horror
- 1 Identify the infamous horror genre. These films obviously are created to horrify audiences and elicit negative emotions.
- 2 Identify the action level in the film to determine whether it is an action horror or not. Usually, they feature gunfights and frantic chases, such as Aliens and Predator.
- 3 Determine whether the movie is a comedy horror. This sub-genre mixes humor with scary situations, thus slightly blurring the lines between a dark comedy and comedy horror. Movies like Teeth and Slither belong to this category.
- 4 Determine whether the film focuses on the graphic deterioration of a character’s body. This is the body horror sub-genre. Think movies like The Fly and Starry Eyes.
- 5 Notice whether the film has horror elements but still features realistic emotional struggles for the characters. This film is drama horror. The Babadook and Dark Water are drama horrors.
- 6 Identify if the film plays off the character’s fears, beliefs, guilt, etc. If it does, it’s most likely a psychological drama. The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby belong to this category.
- 7 Identify the slasher horror. This type of film usually features a masked serial killer who kills the other characters one by one. Famous movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th fall into this category.
- 8 Notice the amount of blood and guts in the film. If it’s excessive and over the top, it’s most likely a splatter horror film. Some examples of this type of movie are Saw and Maniac.
- 9 Identify the threat in the horror movie; if it’s supernatural or otherwise not human, it belongs, obviously, in the supernatural horror genre. Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project fall into this category.
- 10 Notice if the threat originates from an animal. If if does, it’s considered a natural horror movie. Jaws and Bats belong in this category.
- 11 Determine if the movie has any zombies in it. Zombies are typically reanimated corpses that feed on the living’s brains/corpses, although there have been many interpretations of this horror movie staple. Movies like 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, and REC belong to this sub-genre of horror. Advertisement
Method 9 of 12: Science Fiction
- 1 Identify science fiction (sci-fi for short) movies. These types of films usually include futuristic concepts, such as futuristic technology, apocalyptic worlds, and interplanetary travel.
- 2 Notice if the film is dystopian. In other words, does it feature the collapse of society? If it does, it’s known as a sci-fi cyberpunk movie. Blade Runner falls into this category.
- 3 Notice the usage of time travel in the film, if there is any. If the plot centers around that concept, it’s a time travel film. The Back to the Future and Terminator film franchises belong to this sub-genre.
- 4 Notice if the film is set place in an alternate timeline/history. For example, has World War II never happened? Did the South win the Civil War? If the film does include these types of elements, it’s an alternate history movie. Movies such as Inglorious Basterds and Watchmen are alternate history movies.
- The film is only considered alternate history if the plot centers around it. For example, in Back to the Future: Part II, Marty McFly briefly travels to an alternate 2015 where he never lived in his house and never met Doc. However, since this only takes up about five minutes of the film, the movie isn’t considered an alternate history film.
- 5 Determine whether the plot centers around interplanetary wars. This is a sci-fi military film. Movies like Starship Troopers exist in this sub-genre.
- 6 Decide whether the film depicts the end of the world. This is an apocalyptic film. Movies such as This Is The End and World War Z are apocalyptic films.
- 7 Evaluate whether the movie is a space opera. If it is, it typically will include sprawling worlds in outer space. Star Wars and Star Trek are space operas. Advertisement
Method 10 of 12: Comedy
- 1 Identify comedy films. Comedy films are pretty easy to spot. A comedy movie’s main emphasis is humor, and these types of movies attempt to make audiences laugh and generally generate positive feelings.
- 2 Decide whether the film mixes action and humor. If it does, the movie’s an action comedy. Films such as Beverly Hills Cop belong to this sub-genre.
- If the movie does mix action and comedy, make sure it’s more slapstick humor than intense violence, or you may be watching a dark comedy.
- 3 Notice if the movie seems to be filmed like a documentary, but has humorous themes. If it does, you’re watching a mockumentary. This sub-genre is often used to poke fun at world issues of cultures. Use films such as Borat and This Is Spinal Tap as a guideline.
- 4 Notice if there are themes of romance mixed in with the comedy. If so, you’re probably watching a rom-com, or romantic comedy. Films like Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Pretty Woman belong to this sub-genre.
- 5 Determine whether the film pokes fun at culture, societal issues, political leaders and/or their stances, or other movie genres. This is a satirical film. Movies like Airplane! and The Interview are works of satire.
- 6 Decide whether the humor is morbid or not. If so, you’re most likely watching a dark comedy. Dark comedies attempt to make light of normally dark subjects, such as death, terrorism, or crime. Movies such as American Psycho, Pulp Fiction, and Fight Club blend dark subject matter with humorous elements.
- 7 Notice if there are elements of tragedy mixed in. This is a tragicomic, or tragicomedy. Movies such as American Beauty, Life Is Beautiful, and About Schmidt fall into this category.
- 8 Identify whether the movie is a comedy-drama, or dramedy. Dramedies are comedies films that can also tell a dramatic story. Refer to movies such as Last Flag Flying, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Birdman. Advertisement
Method 11 of 12: Thriller
- 1 Identify thrillers. Thrillers use elements of suspense, mild fear, surprise, and anxiety. Oftentimes, they will be extremely intense.
- 2 Notice any humor that has been thrown in as a sort of comic relief. These are comedy thrillers. Movies like Silver Streak and The Lady Vanishes belong to this sub-genre.
- 3 Determine if the protagonist and/or his/her allies are pitted against a powerful organization that typically only they know about. This is a conspiracy movie. Use JFK and Edge of Darkness as a guideline.
- 4 Identify whether the suspense is psychological; made up of the character’s own fears. This is a psychological thriller. Suspicion and Panic Room can be classified as psychological thrillers.
- 5 Notice whether the movie focuses on a spy and his endeavors against an agency. This is the spy film. Classics such as the James Bond franchise and Spy Game fit into this category.
- Remember, spy films can also be considered sub-genres of action/adventure. To tell the difference, evaluate the setting, the mood, and the plot.
- 6 Determine whether the suspense is generated from a supernatural force. This is the supernatural thriller. The Sixth Sense and Jacob’s Ladder fit into this exciting sub-genre.
- 7 Evaluate whether there are robots or computers involved. This is the techno thriller. Movies such as eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor, and I, Robot, are categorized as techno thrillers. Advertisement
Method 12 of 12: Other Genres
- 1 Determine whether the movie is a prequel. Prequels are movies that are set before other well known movies, like Prometheus and X-Men: First Class.
- 2 Determine whether the movie is a sequel. Use movies like The Matrix Reloaded and Jaws 2 as a guideline.
- 3 Determine whether the film is a classic. Classic movies have a wide appeal, and are extremely popular, despite having been made as early as the twenties. Movies like Citizen Kane, Psycho, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Singin’ In the Rain, Metropolis, North By Northwest, The Birds, Fantasia, and The Maltese Falcon, are considered classic movies, and are still widely enjoyed today. Classic movies come from all sorts of genres, Advertisement
and to truly appreciate film, try to watch a few classics from each category. Here are a few examples.
- Drama: Gone With the Wind, Ben-Hur, 12 Angry Men
- Action: Goldfinger, Die Hard, Dirty Harry
- Crime: The Godfather, Scarface (1932), The Big Sleep, Dog Day Afternoon
- Adventure: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Ran, The Third Man
- Western: Shane, Stagecoach, The Searchers, High Noon
- War: Schindler’s List, Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Longest Day, Paths of Glory
- Fantasy: Fantasia, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Thief of Bagdad
- Horror: Frankenstein (1931), The Birds, Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho
- Science Fiction: Solaris (1972), 2001: A Space Odyssey, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
- Comedy: Modern Times, City Lights, Ninotchka, Bringing Up Baby
- Thriller: Notorious, Touch of Evil, Rear Window
- 1 Identify modern classics. Modern classics are generally movies released from the 2000s upward that were/are so successful they will most likely become classics in the future. The Marvel franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight, Inception, and The Departed could be considered modern classics. Here are some examples from different genres.
- Drama: There Will Be Blood, Boyhood, Warrior
- Action Kill Bill, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Sin City
- Crime: Zodiac, The Departed, City of God, Killing Them Softly
- Adventure: Mad Max: Fury Road, Gladiator, Skyfall
- Western: No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
- War: Argo, Inglorious Basterds, The Hurt Locker
- Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Tree of Life, Pan’s Labyrinth
- Horror: Get Out, It Follows, The Babadook
- Science Fiction: Primer, Gravity, Moon, Interstellar
- Comedy: Superbad, Punch-Drunk Love, Hot Fuzz, Zoolander
- Thriller: Donnie Darko, Drive (2011)
- 1 Determine whether the film is a cult classic. Cult classics are movies that initially received mediocre to negative feedback, but, over the years, have acquired a dedicated fanbase or cult following. Cult classics tend to be weird, sometimes controversial, and geared towards adults. Movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pulp Fiction, Enter The Void, They Live, Dazed And Confused, the 1968 Planet of the Apes, This Is The End, and Friday the 13th are all considered cult classics. There are many types of cult classics, and you may want to check them all out:
- Drama: Clerks, The Warriors, Fight Club
- Action: Escape From New York, The Boondock Saints, Mad Max, The Road Warrior
- Crime: Scarface, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs
- Adventure: Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Galaxy Quest
- Western: El Topo, Blazing Saddles
- War: Deathdream , Apocalypse Now, Starship Troopers
- Fantasy: Repo Man, Edward Scissorhands, Spirited Away
- Horror: The Exorcist, The Evil Dead, REC, The Room (2003)
- Science Fiction: The Thing, Alien, Predator, Brazil, THX 1138
- Comedy: Trainspotting, Fargo, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, The Big Lebowski
- Thriller: Battle Royale, Oldboy, 12 Monkeys
- 1 Determine whether the movie could be a family film. Family films are generally well received movies that are usually rated PG or below and can be viewed for a fun “family movie night”. Think movies like Toy Story, The Jungle Book, and Big Hero 6.
- 2 Notice whether the film is silent. These films are, well, silent, and have no lines of dialogue. However, some later silent films may have lines printed on the screen. Movies like A Trip To The Moon and Metropolis are silent.
- 3 Identify non-linear movies. These movies are told out of sequence, meaning you don’t watch them in chronological order. Movies like Cloud Atlas, Pulp Fiction, and Memento have non-linear storylines.
- 4 Do research and determine whether the movie originally came from a graphic novel. Movies like Watchmen and Hellboy originally came from graphic novels.
- 5 Find out whether the movie originally was a comic, such the Captain America, Batman, Superman, and X-Men franchises. It would then be considered a comic book movie.
- 6 Find out whether the film originally came from a book, like No Country For Old Men, American Psycho, and Unbroken. It’s then a book adaptation.
- 7 Find out whether the movie originally came from a play, like Waiting For Godot and Doubt. It’s then a play movie.
- 8 Find out whether the film originated from a poem. You may be surprised! Films such as O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Mulan, and Braveheart were all inspired by poems.
- 9 Find out whether the film originally came from a video game. Some more well known video game movies are films such as Warcraft, Silent Hill, and Final Fantasy. And of course, the infamous Super Mario Bros.
- 10 Find out whether the movie came from, or is based on, a TV show. There are many popular films you may not have known come from TV shows, such as the Mission: Impossible franchise, Serenity, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
- 11 Determine whether the movie is animated. This could be done in numerous ways, such as traditional animation ( Snow White), CGI ( Up), or rotoscoping ( A Scanner Darkly).
- 12 Find out if the movie uses puppets. Think movies like Team America: World Police.
- 13 Find out if the movie is a stop motion. This includes movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas or The Corpse Bride.
- 14 Decide if the movie is meta. This means the characters inside the film either break the fourth wall numerous times, contribute to the making of the film, reference other movies is a way that suggests they know they themselves are in a movie, or acknowledge that they’re in a film. Popular media that has meta themes include Deadpool, Scream, Birdman, and This Is The End.
- 15 Decide if the movie is erotic. Erotic films typically center around sexual experiences of the main characters, and can be quite controversial. Movies like Eyes Wide Shut, American Pie, and American Beauty fall under this category.
- 16 Evaluate whether the movie is a holiday movie. Some movies like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the original Halloween are obviously set during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween, respectively, and the holiday is a major plot point. Some movies, however, like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, L.A. Confidential, and Gremlins are disputed. These films all take place around Christmas, and feature Christmas themes, but it isn’t a major plot point. It’s up to you whether the movie is a holiday movie or not.
- Some movies are even more debated about as to whether or not they should be considered holiday films or not, like The Godfather, Boogie Nights, and Rocky. These are all definitely a stretch.
- Some movies are debated what holiday the film actually depicts. Tim Burton’s animated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas is still being argued over. Is it a Halloween or Christmas movie?
- 17 Notice whether the movie tries to create feelings of extreme anxiety and has a plot based on a conspiracy theory. This is a paranoia film. Some movies center around this “conspiracy theory”, like Disturbia and The Machinist, while other contain themes of unrest and/or paranoia, like Inception (what if your life is a dream you refuse to wake up from?), The Matrix (what if your life is a simulated reality?), The Truman Show (what if your life is a reality television show?), Donnie Darko (what if you live in the wrong alternate reality?), and Blade Runner (what is a human?).
- 18 Decide whether the film is an allegory, meaning it has a higher meaning, often secret. This secret meaning is often moral, political, or social. It’s up to you, however, to decide whether the movie is allegorical. Some film’s directors have confirmed the symbolism (like Captain America: The Winter Soldier), while others are ambiguous (like American Beauty), or have been revealed by third party sources (like Jaws).
- 19 Notice whether the movie is a comedy featuring African/African American characters. This is a black comedy. Movies like Cool Runnings and White Men Can’t Jump fall under this category.
- Black comedy is not to be confused with dark comedy (above), which is sometimes also known as a black comedy.
- 20 Notice whether the movie is an ultraviolent film. Ultraviolent films have heavy amounts of Gore and blood. Movies like The Hills Have Eyes, Hostel, A Clockwork Orange, and basically all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, but most notably Pulp Fiction, are examples of ultraviolence.
- 21 Decide whether the movie is gothic. Gothic films often feature strong emotional cues and lots of angst. Think movies like The City Of The Dead and The Innocents.
- 22 Decide if the movie is noir. Noir films typically feature crime, mysterious themes, and are filmed in black and white. Famous movies like Sunset Blvd. and The Spiral Staircase belong to this category.
- 23 Decide if the movie is neo-noir. This means it has the themes of a noir film, but has an updated visual style. Films like Dark City, Chinatown, Brick, and Blade Runner fall into this category.
- 24 Find out if the movie is a TV movie. This means the film is distributed by a television company (i.e., a Netflix Original). Films like Who Is The Black Dahlia? and World On A Wire were originally made by television companies.
- 25 Find if the movie is a remake of an older one. Remakes just means the basic plot was kept, but the actors and actresses were altered, and all the visual effects were updated. Films like the 2014 RoboCop, the 2013 American Oldboy and the 2012 Total Recall.
- 26 Notice whether the movie is a coming of age film. Coming of age films typically feature young characters that evolve in the process of the film. Take movies such as Boyhood, The Breakfast Club, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Easy Rider, and The Spectacular NOW for example.
- 27 Decide whether the movie is a musical. Musicals feature many songs and musical numbers the characters sing throughout the movie. Movies like The Sound of Music, and Grease fall under this category.
- 28 Decide whether the movie is jiangishi. This is a Japanese type of movie that features the protagonist facing off against monsters similar to the Western vampires or zombies. Mr. Vampire and Encounters Of A Spooky Kind are jiangishi.
- 29 Evaluate whether the film is a sports movie. This means, obviously, it centers around a certain type of sport. Movies like Rocky, its continuation Creed, Raging Bull, and 42 are all sports films.
- 30 Notice if the movie is a biopic, or biographical picture. Biopics center around characters that either actually lived or are heavily based on real life people. Take films like American Splendor and A Beautiful Mind for example.
- 31 Determine whether the movie is kaiju. This is a Japanese-originated style of movie where the protagonist(s) face off against a huge creature. Movies like Pacific Rim and the franchise that should have been ended long ago, Godzilla, are kaiju movies.
- 32 Determine whether the movie is a teen film. Teen films center around teens and their lives. Movies such as Pretty In Pink, American Pie, Mean Girls, and The Breakfast Club fall into this category.
- 33 Notice if the movie is a parody. Parody films typically poke fun at a famous movie or its tropes. They can also poke fun at other movie genres. Look to films like Scary Movie, Galaxy Quest, and Spaceballs if you’re confused.
- 34 Find out if the movie is indie. Indie stands for independent, and indie films are ones that were mostly produced outside a major film studio and also distributed by lesser known studios. Films like Lost In Translation and Requiem For A Dream are indie films.
- 35 Determine whether the film is an experimental film. Experimental films are movies where the director is, instead of trying to attract a massive, mainstream audience, making a generally short and often bizarre film to test a certain concept. Look to movies such as mother!, Koyaanisqatsi, π, The Holy Mountain and almost all of David Lynch’s work ( The Elephant Man, Eraserhead, Inland Empire, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Drive).
- 36 Determine whether your movie is an “art”, or “art house” movie. Yes, this could be movies like Russian Ark, Woman In Gold, or Loving Vincent, but we’re talking about a different type of art movie. Art house movies typically indie movies that are serious and aimed at a small, intellectual audience, rather than a mass market. They are also usually somewhat experimental. Look to movies like The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Man With a Movie Camera, Kieslowski’s 3 Colours trilogy, Wings of Desire, or The Square. Advertisement
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