Movie Genre Recommendations #2


Here’s a list of the major genres recognized by IMDb.  There are many to choose from, old and new, and my examples are ones I’ve recently watched the first time or again because I could and did.

IMDb Major Genres and Definitions

1. Comedy

Virtually all scenes contain characters participating in humorous or comedic experiences.

Moana (2016) is an animated movie I absolutely loved. It weaves the story of ancestral lines, familial duty, and individual dreams. It has a female protagonist, Moana Waialiki.  She searches for her own destiny, as well as protecting the island on which she lives. The scenes between Maui and herself were the some of the funniest.  You can’t beat Dwayne Johnson as Maui and his moving tattoos.  The musicality is a highlight as well.


2. Documentary

Numerous consecutive scenes of real personages and not characters portrayed by actors. This includes stand-up comedy and concert performances.

13th (2016) does an excellent job breaking down the reality of the current day prison system, and the involvement of the African-Americans in the United States. It has solid, good information that should not be ignored. Historical events occurring 200+ years ago doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant today. It gives insight into the ugliness of race relations and inequality that still bleeds in present day situations, and how politicians use it recklessly to further to their campaign agendas.


3. Family

Universally accepted viewing, and aimed specifically for the education and/or entertainment of children or the entire family.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is another adaptation of the story by Roald Dahl. Who is better as Willy Wonka, between Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp, is anyone’s guess. They were both equally good, playing this kooky character, and I’m not sure who would stand on top of the candy cake. This story reminds me how kids are the products of their environment, and each one seems to have a few of the deadly sins, unless you have the name of Charlie. The kids are less interested in the Oompa-Loompas, and more concerned about the competition among themselves and where they fit into Wonka’s candy filled factory. This movie is a dream for people who want to run around in a house made of candy, eating whatever is within reach, or maybe I’m just speaking for myself here.


4. Film-Noir

Typically features dark, brooding characters, corruptions, detectives, and the seedy side of the big city. Almost always shot in black and white, American, and set in contemporary time.

The Maltese Falcon (1941) is one of the best movies Humphrey Bogart starred in and one of the best mysteries ever made. It’s a whodunit without really ever getting closure for some of the people. It leaves you with scrapes without any ointment to stop the burning. Who knew a bird could be the object of so much attention, but well deserved, indeed.


5. Horror

Numerous consecutive scenes of characters effecting a terrifying and/or repugnant narrative.

It Comes at Night (2017) builds slowly over time, with its focus being on survival in a time of uncertainty. The head of the family, Paul, expects discipline in following his rules to keep them safe.  This is put to the test when someone enters into their life, ultimately seeking help, further complicating the line between safe and unsafe.  There aren’t any gimmicks to draw the viewer into this movie.  What you get is what you see with honest dialogue, raw tension, and ending that leaves you thinking about what you would do in this situation.


6. Musical

Several scenes of characters bursting into song aimed at the viewer while the rest of the time, usually but not exclusively, portraying a narrative that alludes to another genre.

Les Misérables (2012) is an adaptation from Victor Hugo.  Let’s all stand and clap at his writing achievement.  This musical production is one you either loved or hated.  I found very little wrong with it.  The cast was amazing with Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and his nemesis, Javert, played by Russell Crowe.  The duo of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were perfect to play the Thénardiers  Anne Hathaway shined as Fantine as a prostitute and her daughter Cosette, played by Amanda Seyfried.  This story has it all: turmoil, revenge, forgiveness, redemption, and change.


7. Romance

Numerous inter-related scenes of a character and their personal life with emphasis on emotional attachment or involvement with other characters, especially those with a high level of purity or devotion.

Her (2013) is not your typical romance movie.  When I first heard about it, I thought seriously, how good can a movie like this be?  I should’ve known better because of two things.  One, it was written and directed by Spike Jonze, and two, it starred Joaquin Phoenix.  This involves a writer, Theodore, who falls in love with the voice from his operating system on his phone. He’s not socially awkward to the point of not being able to have friends, but they are few and far between.  It’s an intriguing story with undercurrent themes of consumerism and social media.


8. War

Numerous scenes and/or a narrative that pertains to a real war, past or current.

Allied (2016) could be seen as a typical love and war movie, and in some ways it is, but it also had an edge to it.  The main characters, Commander Max Vatan and French Resistance member Marianne Beauséjour, come together during World War II, working together for a greater cause.  It’s after things settle that complications arise.  Domesticity only goes so far.  This is about one’s loyalty to country and what happens when things appear differently from another angle.


9. History

Primary focus is on real-life events of historical significance featuring real-life characters, allowing for some artistic license. Fictional characters, incidents, and dialog should be minor.

Lincoln (2012) is the movie when I realized James Spader had changed quite a bit in appearance.  It’s also the movie about the biggest conflicts, Civil War and slavery, the United States government and citizens and non-citizens have ever had to face.  Daniel Day-Lewis took the role and carved himself another fine performance.  The scope of negotiations to secure the ratification of the 13th amendment might seem simple when looking at it today, but as we’ve currently seen with Congress, there’s ample room for debate between two political parties and factions within even one or the other party.  This movie focuses on a small slice of American history and you don’t want to miss it.


10. Music

Significant music-related elements, such as concert or story about a band.

Baby Driver (2017) was a surprise, meaning that it was that good. I wasn’t sure about the title of it and a half pink/tan one sheet.  I learned my lesson.  Don’t judge a movie by its one sheet.  Baby is a getaway driver for a ruthless crime boss named Doc who controls his future and every move.  His dream of living on his own terms is within grasp, but he keeps getting pulled back time and time again.  You learn music is an integral part of life.  The best scenes were between Jon Hamm who played Buddy and Ansel Elgort who played Baby.


11. Mystery

Numerous inter-related scenes of one or more characters endeavoring to widen their knowledge of anything pertaining to themselves or others.

Wind River (2017) is one of the movies I always appreciate where it focuses on the interconnectedness between people.  The movie has conflict throughout: the FBI and locals unable to see eye to eye, two fathers clashing with each other, the cultural differences between Natives and everyone else.  Revenge is a dish best served cold especially in this case because the location is Wyoming during the winter.  You finally find out how the girl was murdered, but not before realizing some harsh truths about life.  It has a great realistic ending.


12. Sci-Fi

Numerous scenes and/or entire background should be based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets.

The Martian (2015) is pretty much a feel good movie with a lot of holy crap moments.  Matt Damon’s character of an astronaut, Mark Watney, learns to thrive on Mars when he is left alone. A mission is formulated to rescue him and as it gains momentum, it’s not only the space world wanting him to return safely.  This is a movie you could watch with your family except small children just because they don’t have the attention span.


13. Thriller

Numerous sensational scenes or a narrative that is sensational or suspenseful.

The Butterfly Effect (2004) is a relative oldie in my collection and not sure why it was rated so poorly among some critics.  It definitely kept my interest.  It stars Ashton Kutcher as Evan Treborn who tries to piece his childhood together one memory at a time.  He goes back and forth between past and present time for what you will recognize this is a good thing.  Many things happen behind closed doors and this is one of those movies.


14. Western

Numerous scenes and/or a narrative where the portrayal is similar to that of a frontier life in the American West during 1600 to contemporary times.

The Hateful Eight (2015) is not supposed to be funny, but for some reason I find Quentin Tarantino’s movies more hilarious than not.  This isn’t my favorite film of his, but it’s good with its superb cast including Walton Goggins, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Samuel L. Jackson.  Never able to narrow down what year exactly this takes place except to know it’s after the Civil War, eight people are forced to face nature’s harsh winter and counter defensive moves among each other.  You won’t be disappointed in this over the top movie.


15. Fantasy

Numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a magical and/or mystical narrative.

Elf (2003) is a gem of a holiday movie about an elf, played by Will Ferrell, that is nothing what you would think these toy makers should look or act like because let’s face it, he’s not an elf.  As you can guess, he has some identity issues.  He ventures out into the “real world” to find out who he really is and connect with his birth father.  Elf is the epitome of a holiday movie: the North Pole, Santa Claus, family, and spirit.


16. Drama

Numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a serious narrative, and can be exaggerated upon to produce melodrama.

Spotlight (2015) showcases the power of a newspaper, especially when it’s willing to dig where few people ever want to dig within religion.  The level of sexual abuse is maddening and tragic within any institution, but the Catholic Church seems to be the top layer for the widespread incidences, as you learn in this movie.  It has lasting effects for the abused and often little consequences for the abusers.  The statistics listed at the end are daunting.  It highlights a huge problem called power inequality (racial, social, economic, familial), and until this is fixed it will never be fully rectified.


17. Crime

Whether the protagonists or antagonists are criminals, this contains numerous consecutive and inter-related scenes of characters participating, aiding, abetting, and/or planning criminal behavior or experiences usually for an illicit goal.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) is one kick ass, bad ass, and kill as many people who deserve it movie where Keanu Reeves is John Wick.  The level of fighting and vendettas is even better than the first movie.  John Wick was born to do one thing, well probably more, but since his family life rug was pulled out from under his feet, he does what he has to do to survive.  It’s a simple story with adrenaline filled scenes and great special effects.  I can’t wait for the third installment as it’s bound to be just as good in 2019.


18. Action

Numerous scenes where action is spectacular and usually destructive.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is a movie for my heart.  Apocalyptic movies tends to bring out the best in the downtrodden and worst for the other side.  This story is about a the attempt to right the perceived wrongs by a displaced woman, Furiosa, and a man with nothing to lose, Max.  They learn to trust each other, and ultimately find a little bit more peace when their road out of hell appears to have ended.


19. Biography

Primary focus is on the depiction of activities and personality of a reason person or persons, for some or all of their lifetime. Events in their life maybe reenacted or described in a documentary style. It should generally follow reasonably close to the factual record.

Lion (2016) is one of those movies I will watch year after year.  It has to be one of the best movies based on real life I’ve seen in a long time.  It probably struck a chord because like Saroo, the protagonist in the movie, I too was adopted.  The movie doesn’t hide the  difficulties of some adoptions.  The interaction between the two brothers before Saroo’s adoption were the best moments in the film.  There are many heart wrenching scenes and the ending is unforgettable.  It left me thinking there are no coincidences in this story.  With this being the last genre recommendation, I would say put Lion near the top of your list to watch.  You won’t regret it.  Trust me, you won’t.


One Sheets from IMDb


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