American Culture IEC Activities Vocabulary

Types (Genres) of Movies + IMAX Movie Theaters in the Bay Area

June 19, 2017

Are you a movie buff?* If so, you probably want to join IEC@DVC for one of our Movie Day activities! Before going, make sure you can describe types of movies in English: this list of movie genres (genres are types of movies) will help.

*movie buff = a person who loves movies

IMAX Movie Theaters in the Bay Area

IMAX is a type of cinema. In an IMAX theater, movies are shown on a larger screen and have more detail (also called “higher resolution”) than traditional movies. The sound quality is very high in IMAX theaters as well so the sound effects of movies are clear and sharp.

The Bay Area has many IMAX movie theaters: check them out!

AMC Loews Metreon 16 & IMAX (San Francisco)

The Metreon has just been renovated* and feels like new! Enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants in the theater before watching your show. During the show, relax in one of the theater’s leather recliners. Fancy!

135 4th St #3000, San Francisco, CA, USA

*renovated = updated, made changes to 

AMC Van Ness (San Francisco)

This theater was once a bank, which makes its architecture very interesting! The AMC Van Ness is not as new as the Metreon, but locals love that the concession stands are on every level, so you do not have to walk very far and miss parts of your movie when you get a popcorn refill.

1000 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA

Brenden Concord Theaters (Concord)

Brenden Concord Theaters is definitely not what you’d think of when you imagine a typical movie theater! The seats recline and have a mini table and cupholder for you to relax with your snacks during the show. If you’re tired of traditional popcorn, the theater sells coffee, desserts, ice cream, and pizza!

1985 Willow Pass Rd, Concord, CA, USA

Century Walnut Creek Downtown 14 (Walnut Creek)

Century Walnut Creek Downtown is a classic movie theater in an excellent location. The theater does not have restaurants inside (like some of the other theaters on this list) but Downtown Walnut Creek provides plenty of options for food and drinks!

1201 Locust St, Walnut Creek, CA, USA

Types (Genres) of Movies

A “genre” is a type of movie, book, song, etc. Do you know these common types (genres) of movies? We have included some examples and some trailers of these movies. Which have you seen? How many have you watched in English?


Definition: In an action film, the main character experiences different challenges, including fights and chases. Usually, the main character achieves victory in the end: he/she defeats the villain (the “bad guy”) and saves those who need help.

Example(s): There are many action movies, but perhaps the ones that everyone loves are the movies about Indiana Jones! Check out this list from Rotten Tomatoes of the 100 Best Action Movies. Do you agree with this list?


Definition: A biographical film is also called a “biopic.” These films tell the story of one real person from history.

Example(s): Many actors are famous for playing a famous person in a biopic (such as Jamie Foxx being famous for playing Ray Charles in the film Ray). Read this list of biographical films for many examples, and check out this trailer for Braveheart, one of the most famous biographical movies. In Braveheart, Mel Gibson plays William Wallace, who lives in Scotland in the 14th century. Wallace leads people to fight Edward the Longshanks, an English man who wants to rule Scotland.


Definition: Get ready to laugh! Comedy films are designed to be funny and keep the audience laughing. Usually, the characters are unreal, exaggerated characters placed in unreal situations.

Example(s): What’s your favorite comedy film? This list of 100 Best Comedy Films has a great list of movies, including some classics from the 70s and 80s. Many people think of Will Ferrell when they think of comedians: one of his most popular movies is Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.


Definition:  Documentary films are created to teach the audience something or to record something important for history. 

Example(s): There are many documentaries on various subjects: choose an interest, and there is probably a documentary about it! Perhaps one of the most famous documentaries is Supersize Me. In this movie, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock eats McDonald’s for every meal for 30 days and looks at the effects of fast food on the human body.


Definition: Drama films show the conflicts that humans sometimes experience. The conflict can be something within the main character or a conflict between the main character and others. Characters in dramas are realistic (they could be real people; they do not have super powers and the movies do not have unrealistic aspects).

Example(s): Can we possibly choose a movie other than The Godfather as an example of a drama movie? Probably not: it’s a classic!


Definition: Fantasy movies are about unreal characters and settings.

Example(s): The Lord of the Rings movies, which are based on the books by J. R. Tolkien, show the world of Middle Earth and its many creatures, such as hobbits, elves, dwarfs, orcs, wizards, and giants.


Definition: Historical movies tell the story of a period of time. They are different than biopics because they focus on a time period rather than one specific person in history. Historical movies are known for their incredible sets and costumes.

Example(s): What was life like in Roman times? The movie Gladiator gives viewers a look into this time period (and the life of a gladiator). This list on Ranker shows the Top 10 Historical Movies, as was voted by readers.


Definition: Horror movies are designed to scare you . . . and they certainly do! Horror movies can be gory (there is a lot of violence and blood) or they can be scary in other ways, like showing ghosts or spirits.

Example(s): A classic horror movie is Halloween. Have you seen it? For many Americans, it’s a tradition to watch this movie (or other classic horror movies) during the month of October. For newer horror films, check out IMDB’s list of the Top Horror Films of 2017. Maybe some of these will become classics as well!


Definition: Musicals are films where the actors sing (and often dance).

Example(s): The most famous movie is The Sound of Music: you will probably recognize many of the songs!

A newer example is La La Land, which is a movie from 2016 that many think will become a classic.


Definition: Rom-com is a combination of the word “romantic” and “comedy.” In this genre, a couple falls in love; the story has a lot of humor.

Example(s): Matthew McConaughey now has many awards for films like Dallas Buyers Club, but before he began acting in these serious roles, he was famous for his rom-coms. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (with Kate Hudson) is probably one of his most famous rom-com movies.


Definition: Sci-Fi is short for “Science Fiction.” This genre uses aliens, robots, and other worlds to tell stories.

Example(s): The Star Wars movies are the most popular, but there are many other incredible sci-fi films, such as James Cameron’s Avatar.


Definition: Horror films are designed to scare its audience (or make them feel gross with scenes with violence and blood). Thriller films give the audience a thrill through extreme emotions like excitement, surprise, and anxiety. A thriller film is also called a suspense film.

Example(s): The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is from a book of the same name, is a popular thriller. Read this list of thriller films from 2010-2017 for more examples of thriller movies.

These genres are just some of the many types of films. To learn about more film genres, visit the IMDB website list. Be sure to join us on our next IEC@DVC Activity when we take a trip to a movie theater!

You Might Also Like