• Ready, set, action: Talking about movies in English

    by Muireann Prendergast

    Talking about movies is a great way to practice informal English. It is also a good way to learn to speak about your interests and pastimes. Let’s look at some of the vocabulary involved as well as some possible question and answer-style scenarios.

    What’s your favorite genre?

    Romantic comedy (also called rom-com)


    Science Fiction (also called sci-fi)


    Foreign language

    Chick Flick (movies of interest to women)

    Animated movies





    Independent (also called indie)

    Why do you like this genre?

    If it is because these movies are exciting you can say:

    They keep me at the edge of my seat.

    They are fast-paced and I am never bored.

    If it is because you like the music you can say:

    I generally like the soundtrack to these movies.

    If it is because you like to see the technology used to make them you can say:

    I think the special effects used to make these movies are very impressive.

    If you like the issues they raise you can say:

    I can relate to the subject-matter of these movies.


    I think the issues they raise are realistic.


    I like them because they are frequently controversial.

    If you like the movies that you can watch with your whole family, you can say:

    I like them because they are family-orientated.

    How did your favorite movie do at the box office?

    Very well. It was a/an:

    –       Major Blockbuster

    –       An academy-award (Oscar) winner

    It was:

    –       Critically-praised

    Not so well. It was a:

    –       Flop

    –       Straight to-DVD movie

    It was:

    –       Critically-panned

    Who is your favorite actor?

    Vocabulary to describe your favorite actors and actresses includes the following:

    –       Handsome (or pretty is you are talking about a woman)

    –       Cute

    –       Attractive

    –       Good-looking

    –       Beautiful

    –       Glamorous

    –       Funny

    –       Humorous

    –       Quirky

    –       Versatile

    Vocabulary to describe your least favorite actors and actresses includes the following:

    –       Plain

    –       Unattractive

    –       Silly

    –       Too extrovert

    –       Overrated

    –       Dull

    –       A one trick pony (the opposite of versatile)

    If you want to talk about the important actors in the film you can use the terms:

    –       Protagonist

    –       Lead actor/actress

    –       Villain

    –       Bad-guy

    If you want to talk about the actors/actresses with smaller roles in the film you can use the terms:

    –       Supporting actor/actress

    And, if the part is particularly small:

    –       Extras

    Some useful vocabulary to describe character traits of protagonists and supporting actors/actresses is:

    –       Ambitious

    –       Amoral

    –       Arrogant

    –       Childish

    –       Cruel

    –       Difficult

    –       Dizzy

    –       Domineering

    –       Feminine

    –       Foolish

    –       Hostile

    –       Indifferent

    –       Irresponsible

    –       Intense

    –       Loyal

    –       Manipulative

    –       Mean-spirited

    –       Needy

    –       Open-minded

    –       Over-bearing

    –       Pathetic

    –       Shy

    –       Social

    –       Sympathetic

    –       Trusting

    –       Unconventional

    –       Vulnerable

    Now, let’s see what you’ve learned. Watch this movie clip of Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind with Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey. Answer the following questions:

    What words from the list of possible character traits above would you use to describe:

    1. The female protagonist?

    2. The chief male character?

    What do you think is the genre of this movie?

    What do you like/dislike about this movie?

    How do you think it performed at the box office?

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