The 8 Best English Movies With Subtitles To Immerse Yourself in Hollywood Hits
Want to give your English the red carpet treatment —that is, make your English study sessions more special?
Below, we have eight popular Hollywood hits that can help you improve your language skills.
They all have English subtitles so you can follow along with the conversation and pick up new vocabulary words as you watch.
You will feel like an American star in no time!
8 Movies with English Subtitles That Americans Love
Now that you are prepared to learn English from movies, let us look at some popular films that are great for increasing your vocabulary and improving your conversational skills.
Each video has a link to a subtitled copy of the movie you can rent (pay to use for a short period of time) or buy.
Oh, and as a fair warning, these video clips contain some spoilers . That means they may show details that you should not (or may not want to) know before watching the film.
“Forrest Gump” is excellent for learning American English. The movie touches on everything from ordinary life in the U.S. to American politics during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
In this clip, we see a conversation between Forrest and his mother where they talk about life, death and destiny . Forrest asks his mother what his destiny is—his purpose in life is and how he should live his life. His mom tells him that he needs to figure out (discover or find a solution to) his own destiny and that he is in control of his own future.
The scene also has the expression, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” This expression actually became popular because of “Forrest Gump.” American English speakers use it to say that everything that happens in life is unexpected.
“Fight Club” brings philosophy, mental health and social issues into a movie about guys fighting. It gives English students a lot of topics to learn about.
In this popular speech by the character Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt), we can explore purpose, the meaning of life and (again) destiny. Unlike the “Forrest Gump” clip, this speech talks about how people waste their lives doing things they do not want to do.
The character even refers to himself and his friends as “the middle children of history,” meaning their generation (people in their age group) did not have any important achievements or fought important battles like their parents and grandparents.
“The Departed” is a crime drama (a work with a serious tone) about police and gangsters (group of criminals) in the American state of Massachusetts. Not only is it an exciting movie to watch, it involves a lot of slang, insults and words used by police officers.
As a result, the movie has lots of foul language and violence, so avoid watching it around young or sensitive viewers.
In this video clip, we see Leonardo DiCaprio’s character meet a psychologist to talk about the stress of being an undercover cop (a police officer that pretends to be a criminal). The character mentions that his “heart rate is jacked” but his hand is steady. By calling his heart rate “jacked,” he is saying that his heart is beating extremely fast.
Director Quentin Tarantino is known for bringing natural conversations into his movies, and “Reservoir Dogs” is no exception. The movie brings the perfect mixture of casual dialogues with slang, insults and crime-related vocabulary.
One of the most popular scenes from “Reservoir Dogs” is the tipping scene. When asked to cough up some green (pay/give some money) for the tip (additional money given) on a restaurant bill, everyone but Mr. Pink agrees to pay. Afterward, the group debates (talks about two sides of an issue) whether it is right or wrong to leave a tip at restaurants.
Be warned: like “The Departed,” “Reservoir Dogs” contains a lot of foul language (as you can hear from the clip above) and violence, so do not watch it around children! Also, remember to click the white “CC” button on the lower right of the screen to see the English subtitles.
“Vanilla Sky” helps English students talk about business and mental health. Plus, it has an unusual (not common/average) storyline that will keep you guessing what happens next.
This video clip involves the main character (played by Tom Cruise) talking to a group of doctors helping him recover from a major accident. In this scene, Tom Cruise’s character is given a facial prosthetic or mask that he is supposed to wear.
The word facial refers to the face. Prosthetics are artificial body parts, including arms and legs, worn by people who have been seriously injured and have lost those body parts.
Again, click the “CC” button to see the English subtitles.
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
“The Wolf of Wall Street” mixes business English with insults and rude conversations. While I recommend not talking like the characters in the movie, watching “The Wolf of Wall Street” will help you recognize English insults and swear words.
This scene from the movie is great at showing cultural differences between American and European businesses. The main character (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) wants to talk about banking laws in Switzerland. But the Swiss do not talk about business until they have had a casual conversation—referred to as chit-chat —beforehand.
In the video clip, the character also mentions that he needs a rat hole . In American business, a rat hole is somewhere companies can hide money so the government cannot find it.
Also, you can see the English subtitles once you click the “CC” button.
“Groundhog Day” is a strange movie about a guy re-living the same day over and over. The movie starts out with casual conversations about day-to-day life, such as talking about work or meeting old friends. But as you get further into the movie, the conversations start becoming more about philosophy.
This video clip contains common English expressions like on the rocks (drink with ice; an expression typically used in places like bars), down-to-earth (humble or modest), déjà vu (the feeling that you have seen or experienced something before) and go with the flow (accept situations as they are rather than trying to change them).
The great thing about “Groundhog Day” is, because of its premise (central idea or theme), the scenes are played over and over again. That means you do not have to pause and rewind (go back) every time you want to review a piece of dialogue, because the movie is already doing that for you!
“Dead Poets Society”
“Dead Poets Society” is one of the best movies for building advanced vocabulary. This movie is about a dedicated teacher and a group of private school students, and it uses academic English to talk about English literature and education as a whole.
“Dead Poets Society” has one of the most popular movie scenes of all time, where the teacher, played by Robin Williams, tells his students to seize the day or make the most of life before it ends.
The Best Way to Learn Words While Watching Movies
Watching movies is a great way to improve your listening skills, build your vocabulary and learn how to speak naturally. But you need to do it right.
One mistake many English students make is they do not actually make the movie a learning experience. Instead, they sit back and watch the movie the same way they watch movies in their own language.
Learning English with movies requires you to be actively engaged. Pay attention to the subtitles while you watch. Keep a notebook nearby so you can pause the video and note any new words and expressions you come across.
Once you are done with the movie, use your English dictionary or mobile app to look up the definitions of the words and expressions you wrote down in your notebook.
Shorter videos are a convenient and quick way to get some listening and vocabulary practice, especially if you do not want to or have the time to watch a whole movie in English.
It uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You should also make a brief note mentioning the scene when you write down words and phrases. That makes it easier to go back to that part of the movie and replay (play again) the scene. The more you watch the scene, the more easily you can understand the context the phrases were used in, and also practice listen-and-repeat exercises of your own.
Once you are confident enough to watch a movie in English, the above list will help you pick something you can enjoy.
As you can see, watching American movies with English subtitles can be an educational experience.
Next time you feel like you need a break from your ESL textbook, grab a bowl of popcorn and watch a good movie instead.