Spell-binding, Magical, Must-see: How to Really Talk About Movies in English
The movie theater is your happy place. You can’t think of anywhere else you’d rather be.
You love the smell of popcorn and the feel of the cold soda in your hands.
You don’t even mind the sticky floors! You just love being there watching the latest flick (movie).
Are we talking about you? Are you a big fan of watching movies? Have you discovered the power of learning English through movies? Do you want to talk about all the great movies you watch with your English-speaking friends, but you don’t know where to start?
Or are you too shy to start speaking about anything at all? Movies are a great topic to help you start using all the grammar and vocabulary you’ve been working so hard to learn.
We’re going to give you the vocabulary you need to sharpen your English speaking skills and ask questions, as well as give your opinion, about movies. You can use these words and phrases with your English speaking friends, your language partner, with colleagues at a work event or even in your English class.
Tips for Talking About Movies
- Prepare what you want to say. As you watch a movie, think about the questions in this post during the film. Take notes after (or during) the movie to answer the questions so that when you find yourself in a discussion about films, you’re prepared.
- Talk about the different parts of a movie. Apart from the plot (what the movie is about), you can also talk about the actors you like, the cinematography (artistic visual aspects), the director, etc. You can even compare the movie you’re watching to other movies you’ve seen that are similar. For example, I prefer “The Lord of the Rings” over “Harry Potter.”
- Don’t spoil the ending. When you’re talking about movies, don’t say what happens at the end! Your speaking partner might want to go see the movie and be surprised or entertained like you were. So please don’t spoil it by telling them the ending, even if you’re excited!
- Keep it simple and brief. You only have to speak a couple of sentences when someone asks you a question. And remember that asking questions is also part of the art of conversation. So listen, ask questions and keep your answers short.
- Keep your conversation fresh. Here are some resources you can go to if you want to keep your conversation on new movies fresh.
Rotten Tomatoes — A website that reviews all types of movies, including new releases.
The Oscars — This year’s movies that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognize as the best movies.
Sundance Institute — An organization that highlights independent movie makers.
IMDb — A website that gives you information about almost every movie ever made, including less-known or independent/student movies.
Netflix — A website where you can stream movies for a monthly subscription fee. Try choosing a new movie every week or so that you always have something to talk about.
FluentU — A language learning program that uses native English videos like movie clips and trailers to teach the language. This tool is useful if you struggle to understand the English used in movies.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Spell-binding, Magical, Must-see: How to Really Talk About Movies in English
Essential Vocabulary to Know and Use
Let’s start by talking about some words that are important to understand (and use) in your conversations about the movies you like (or don’t like).
Was the last movie you saw an action movie or a romantic comedy? Be specific in your description by using the vocabulary below!
- Action — Movies made with fighting, chasing, arguing and violence in general. (Examples: “Indiana Jones, “Lethal Weapon,” “Mission Impossible”)
- Animated — Movies that are drawn and made into cartoons. (Examples: “Finding Nemo,” “Up” and other Disney and Pixar movies)
- Comedy — Movies that make you laugh. (Examples: “The Hangover,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Annie Hall”)
- Documentary — Movies made to inform you about a specific issue using interviews, facts and other journalistic techniques. (Examples: “Food, Inc.,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “13th”)
- Drama — Movies that are serious, sad and that are usually about a specific issue or romance. (Examples: “Precious,” “Crash,” “Good Will Hunting”)
- Historical — Usually dramatic, these movies are made to show a specific time period. (Examples: “12 Years a Slave,” “Titanic,” “Hurt Locker”)
- Horror — Movies that are scary or “gory,” and that’s filled with blood and violence. (Examples: “The Shining,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Saw”)
- Independent (Indie) films — Movies that were not made by big, Hollywood studios or are more artistic in terms of theme and visuals. (Example: “Lost in Translation,” “Memento,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)
- Thriller — These movies are like horror movies, but they’re more “psychologically” scary. (Examples: “Don’t Breathe,” “American Psycho,” “Seven”)
- Romantic comedy (sometimes referred to as “rom-com”) — Movies about romance that are made to be fun and light-hearted or not very serious. (Examples: “The Wedding Planner,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “Valentine’s Day”)
- Science fiction — Or “sci-fi,” this genre is usually set in the future and has characters who are extraterrestrials or aliens. (Examples: “Star Trek,” “Interstellar,” “Star Wars”)
Types of movies
We want you to be prepared when you hear these words! They pop up from time to time and can change someone’s description of the movie. For example, you might hear, “The film was a remake of the original 1960 movie, but I liked it much better!
- Sequel — The second part of a pair of movies or a movie that continues the same story as another movie that came before it. (Examples: “Spiderman 2,” “Toy Story 2,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”)
- Trilogy — A series of movies with three parts. (Examples: “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Matrix,” “The Godfather”)
- New release — Movies that are showing in movie theaters right now.
- Remakes — Notice the prefix “re” which means “again,” and the verb “make.” Literally, this word means “to make again.” These are movies that have been made before and are recreated, but with some updates. Many movies nowadays are remakes. (Examples: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “The Departed,” “The Magnificent 7”)
Sometimes the words “good” and “bad” just are not enough to describe a film. Here are some words you might find useful when you’re trying to tell someone about the film:
- Some synonyms for “bad” — awful, terrible, boring, predictable, overrated
- Some synonyms for “good” — great, well done, awesome, important, entertaining, informative
- Some synonyms to be neutral about a movie — alright, okay, so-so, not my favorite
A few other useful description words:
- Award-winning — A movie that has won an award like an Oscar or a Golden Globe.
- Family-friendly — Films that are good for families to watch together (no explicit material).
- Critically-acclaimed — If you hear this, it means critics gave the movie good reviews.
- Visually-stunning — A movie that’s beautiful to watch.
Questions and Answers to Keep the Conversation Going
You can have a conversation about movies by asking and answering questions using the vocabulary we talked about. Let’s look at some common questions and answers people use when they talk about movies.
Have you seen any good movies lately?
This question is asking about the movies you’ve seen in the past days, weeks or even months. You can talk about the last movie you saw or any other another movie you saw recently.
Here are some examples of how you can answer:
- Yes, I’ve been really into short films.
- Yes, I just saw the new Leonardo DiCaprio film.
- No, not really. I prefer watching TV.
- No, I’ve been pretty busy with work. Have you?
Notice the structure of some of the sentences: yes/no + subject + have/has + past participle of the verb.
Did you like it?
This is a yes or no question, which means you’ll start your answer with either “yes” or “no.” And since the question is in the past tense, you should answer the question with the past tense. Here are some example answers:
- Yeah, I liked it.
- No, I didn’t like it very much.
Remember that “like” is a transitive verb, which means you must use a direct object with the verb.
You cannot say, “Yes, I like.” It must be “Yes, I liked it,” or “Yes, I liked the movie.” “It” and “the movie” are the direct objects.
What did you think about the movie?
This question is asking for your opinion about that movie. You can begin to answer the question by using these phrases:
- I thought that…
- I felt like…
- It was + adjective from above
- In my opinion…
Here’s an example of an opinion about the short, critically-acclaimed (it was nominated for an Oscar this year) movie “Blind Vaysha.”
I thought that the movie was well done. The way the director used animation and paintings made the movie visually-stunning. I felt like the music added a lot of emotion to the movie, too. It was quite interesting.
You can continue the conversation by asking the person you’re speaking with the same question. For example, “What about you? What did you think? Did you like it?”
What was it about?
This question is asking about the topic or what happened in the movie. When you talk about what happened in the movie, remember not to say the ending!
You can answer this question in two ways, depending on how you want to answer the question.
- Describe what happened. For this, you can use the present simple to emphasize the action in the story. Here’s an example of how to answer it using “Blind Vayasha.”
There is a girl who sees only the past through one eye and the future through the other. She can’t see the present moment. The movie shows her troubles.
- Describe the topic. To talk about the themes of the movie, you can describe the main ideas of the movie as well as your own interpretation. Here’s an example using the past simple (though you can also use the present simple).
The movie was about a girl who saw only the past through one eye and only the future through the other. But I actually think it was commenting on our society today and how we don’t take the time to be present in the moment.
What else would you recommend?
In a conversation about movies, answer this question by telling your speaking partner what other movies you think they should see.
Or you can ask this questions if you’d like to know what movies they think would be good for you.
Here are some examples of how you can answer this question:
- Since you liked “Blind Vayasha,” I’d recommend “Waking Life.”
- Give “Castaway” a try.
- If you liked “Memento,” I think you’d really like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
- I don’t know. If you don’t like war movies, you might not like “Hurt Locker.”
Now you have all the vocabulary, questions and answers to help you get through a conversation about movies!
Remember to start by thinking about the questions while you’re watching that awesome action flick. You’ll be speaking fluently in no time!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website 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 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? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.