100+ Movie Genres. The Definitive List, with Examples
Film genres have grown with film itself. In the early days of Hollywood filmmaking, the few existing movie genres had clear definitions. Based on their subject and style, you could sort releases easily into their respective categories.
Movie genres today are more numerous and less pure in the sense that hybrid and crossover films exist. Filmmakers play with genre theory and audience expectations to tell stories in different ways.
Understanding film genres is important when discussing film theory and helps you compare genre elements and the work of filmmakers when critically analyzing movies. We’ll give you an introduction to movie genres and why they’re useful before diving into a definitive genre list with important subgenres.
What are movie genres?
Genre describes a category for a work of art or entertainment based on certain criteria. These can define both the content and the style. In filmmaking, genre elements can therefore answer one of two questions: what story is it, and how is the story told? Genre can touch on:
- Setting: Where does the story take place?
- Characters: Who is the main character or ensemble of main characters, and which antagonists do they face?
- Plot: What is happening in the story? Do the heroes go on a quest, or does the main character solve a crime, riddle, or mystery?
- Theme: What is the underlying universal theme of the story, for example, forgiveness, love, death, or friendship?
- Mood and tone: Is it dark or light-hearted, gloomy, mysterious, or inspiring?
- Narration: Are there typical narrative techniques, such as voice-over narration, on-screen titles, excessive flashbacks, or a non-linear storyline?
Most movies are mixed or hybrid genres and have elements of more than one genre. The division can be clear-cut, where one genre is dominant, or the attribution can be up for discussion. The main genre category indicates where most of the film fits. Subgenres further define a main category or blend two separate genres, such as an action-thriller.
Main genres offer further classification through subgenres and define the dominant style of a film. They can appear in combination with other genres. When talking about titles that blend movie genres, we often use defining phrases such as “in the style of” or “with elements of” to show a crossover.
For example, a science-fiction thriller with horror elements in the style of a heist movie. Such a movie might be neither here nor there, but from the classification alone, we could expect a story set in space or a world dominated by Sci-Fi elements, yet told with heightened emotions, anxiety, and suspense, like a thriller, and shocking, frightening, or gruesome elements, like a horror movie. The heist movie style could mean the assembling of a team of specialized characters by a mastermind to perform a task together.
Why categorize movies into genres?
From a personal perspective, you might only need two categories to sort movies: those you’ve seen and those you still want to see. You might also categorize films into those you like and those you dislike. Such a binary approach has its advantages: you instantly know where a title falls.
Blockbuster entertainment or arthouse cinema. Big studio production or independent. Foreign or domestic film. However, such a false dichotomy ignores many other defining aspects of movies. The categorization of titles into film genres offers minimal characterization and facilitates the grouping of similar movies.
Categories help viewers discover new films of interest, for example through browsing on a streaming site. Film critics use genres to make comparisons between movies and to rate artistic choices, such as cinematography, in the context of genre elements. Movie genres and subgenres allow us to discuss the history and theory of filmmaking broadly.
Basic movie genres
The most basic genres date back to the early days of Hollywood and the beginnings of filmmaking. They’re all live-action; the later development of special effects and animation techniques allowed for entire new genres, such as animation.
- Science Fiction
The big genre list: an overview of movie genres and subgenres
We’ve organized our genre list in a tree structure with major movie genres as branches, from which the subgenres branch off further. Each genre includes major genre elements and important titles or filmmakers for you to review.
Action in all its forms defines the genre: fights, chases, risk, danger, explosions, bullets, stunts, and disaster. The premise is that a majority of the movie features action, which a subgenre can define further as martial arts or military action, for example.
Many associate the action genre with big-budget productions and blockbuster action movies, which is more than warranted: non-stop on-screen action quickly runs expensive when explosions and stunts reign.
James Cameron built a legacy for himself with high-grossing action films such as Terminator and True Lies. John Woo, Michael Mann, Kathryn Bigelow, and Michael Bay are other notable action filmmakers.
The action genre comprises several subgenres and hybrid genres:
- Adventure: Indiana Jones franchise, Jurassic Park franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Lost City of Z, Hard Boiled
- Disaster: Moonfall, The Day After Tomorrow, Dante’s Peak, Deep Impact, Armageddon
- Martial Arts: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Triple Threat, 47 Ronin, Romeo Must Die, Jackie Chan movies
- Military Action: American Sniper, 12 Strong, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
- Spy and Espionage: James Bond franchise
- Superhero: Marvel universe, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman franchises
- Video game movies: Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Doom, Resident Evil
- Action comedy (including Buddy movie): Jungle Cruise, The Lost City, Bad Boys
- Action crime: The Gentlemen, No Sudden Move, Den of Thieves
- Action drama: Training Day, Collateral, The American
- Action-horror: Peninsula, The Predator, Till Death, Underwater, Jaws
- Action thriller: The Accountant, Drive, Jack Reacher
In the genre of animation, the different techniques for bringing inanimate objects to life make up the subgenres.
- CGI: Computer-generated images make up the bulk of newly released animation movies. The rendering of the images with the help of processing power and software accounts for a majority of the production time and cost. Examples are: Toy Story franchise, The Lego Movie, Wall-E, Ratatouille, Shrek, Frozen, Coco, Luca.
- Claymation and Stop Motion: The stop motion technique uses still photography and animates objects by adjusting them frame by frame. Claymation is stop motion animation that uses characters and sets built from clay. Chicken Run and Early Man are examples here, as well as The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Isle of Dogs, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- Cutout: Basic shapes as cutouts make up the characters and sets in this animation technique, though thanks to modern technology, it's more of a style realized with the help of CGI. South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut and The Beatles - Yellow Submarine.
- Drawings: Traditional animation films comprised of hand-drawn frames and painted backgrounds. The early works of Disney are examples here, such as Fantasia and The Beauty And The Beast. Other titles are: My Neighbor Totoro and other works of Studio Ghibli, Persepolis.
- Live-Action: These films mix live-action with animation, either as cartoons and real actors, or footage of real actors overlaid with an animation filter. Examples include: Waltz with Bashir, Space Jam, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Mask, Casper, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, The Lord of the Rings (animated 1978), Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly.
- Puppets: Animation films with puppets can use marionettes and ventriloquist puppets, as well as hand, stick, and shadow puppets. Examples are: Eraserhead, Labyrinth, Street of Crocodiles, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Team America: World Police.
The comedy genre is very flexible since humor is largely up to interpretation. Comedy movies can run from dull dad jokes that make viewers groan to sophisticated wit, satirical takes, and dark humor.
- Black Comedy or Dark Comedy: Dark comedy explores taboo subjects and topics viewers rarely associate with laughter, such as death, war, and tragedy. Dr. Strangelove, In Bruges, Parasite, Fargo are examples.
- Buddy Comedy: This type of comedy pits two (or more) characters against the world, or against each other. Their relationship can be genuine friendship, platonic love, or work-related, in which case working together can also be forced. An element of love-hate often informs the dynamics between the buddies. These films can also be a primary action element or blur the lines with the Hangout movie genre. Dumb and Dumber, The Hangover, Nothing to Lose, Twins.
- Hangout movie: The characters are the principal attraction of a hangout movie, so much so that they almost become the friends of the audience. The ensemble cast hangs out together, and viewers with them. The comedic effect often comes from their interactions with each other. Examples are: Slacker, The Big Lebowski, Rio Bravo, Clerks, Dazed and Confused, The Breakfast Club, American Graffiti, Friday series.
- Parody or spoof: A parody mocks a specific movie or set of movies. Spaceballs is a parody of Star Wars, and Men In Tights parodies Robin Hood. Similarly, a spoof pokes fun at the entire genre: The Naked Gun at police movies, Scary Movie at horror films, and Not Another Teen Movie at teen comedies (such as American Pie).
- Prank movies: This kind of movie puts actors, stunt people, or real-life people in humorous, grotesque, or even disgusting situations, often without their knowledge. Examples are Borat and the Jackass series.
- Satire: When the subject of mockery is not a specific film, but an overall idea, institution, or concept without connection to another movie, the work is often satirical. Satire can go over the top with a certain idea to show the absurdity of it. Natural Born Killers, Man Bites Dog, The Great Dictator, Sorry to Bother You, Monty Python’s Life of Brian. A mockumentary (for example, This is Spinal Tap) uses the format of the documentary for humor.
- Slapstick Comedy: The origins of this subgenre are in stage performances and vaudeville: slapstick humor is funny without explanation or dialog. Physical gags, harm, frustration, stunts and situational comedy worked well in silent films during the early days of cinema. Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and The Three Stooges are closely associated with slapstick. Other examples are: Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, The Party, Mouse Hunt, Step Brothers, Home Alone, The Pink Panther, Tommy Boy, Three Amigos!
- Screwball Comedy: Screwball comedy evolved from early slapstick. Essentially a satire of the traditional love story, screwball is a type of romantic comedy with an odd couple. Typically a strong, dominating, or goofy female character will challenge the central male character in his traditional role or in his masculinity. This might include several characters competing for the attention of one. Examples are: It Happened One Night, The Lady Eve, My Man Godfrey You Can't Take It with You, His Girl Friday, The Awful Truth, The Philadelphia Story. Today, comedies often include screwball couples or characters as a typical genre element, for example in She’s Funny That Way, Frances Ha, and Mistress America.
In the crime genre, the plot revolves around a crime, criminal actions, or the legal action surrounding a case. Crime movies can deal with the moral implications and have a clear-cut theme of good vs. evil, or explore the moral gray areas in between. The crime genre can have underdogs and unlikely heroes as protagonists, or have the audience sympathize with the ‘bad guys’ in gangster movies.
- Cop movie: Cop movies or police movies follow a protagonist in the police force, who is not solving just one case. When paired with a partner, this often blends with the buddy genre. Police films are often at home in the comedy or action genres as well. Beverly Hills Cop, End of Watch, Lethal Weapon
- Crime drama: This subgenre often involves litigation, attorneys, and the building of a court case. Courtroom movies and legal thrillers often closely follow the events in court but can include detective elements as well, often performed by attorneys in discovery. The finale typically revolves around a decisive ruling. A Few Good Men, 12 Angry Men, A Time To Kill, Erin Brockovich.
- Crime thriller: A crime plot with the heightened emotions of a thriller can involve psychological elements or lots of action. A classic plot is an injustice done to an innocent protagonist who has to seek revenge outside of the justice system. Dead Man Down, John Wick, Taken, Payback, The Equalizer.
- Detective and Whodunnit: These movies usually have an investigation at their center. The main character can be an unlikely hero and doesn’t have to be a real detective. In a crime mystery, the perpetrator can be unknown to viewers, though the movie can also show the deed first and then the investigation and eventual catch. Motherless Brooklyn, Lady on a Train, Murder Most Foul, L.A. Confidential, Zodiac, Se7en, The Silence of the Lambs, City of Lies, Murder On The Orient Express.
- Gangster: Gangs, villains, and the world of organized crime comprise this subgenre. The mafia movie genre is similar but limited to this kind of organized crime; however, it can show both sides, i.e. the life of the villains, or an investigation or case against the mafia. GoodFellas, Boyz In The Hood, Gangs of New York, Scarface, The Godfather, The Departed.
- Hardboiled: This is a special detective film with an often stereotypically cynical or disillusioned detective protagonist that came to rise during the era of film noir in the 1920s, seeing its peak in the 40s and 50s. The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, Chinatown, The Lady From Shanghai, Double Indemnity, Inherent Vice.
- Heist and caper: This subgenre often has a mastermind organizing a group of criminals or outlaws to perform a job, such as a heist, a prison break, or a similar stunt. Caper films are more humorous than serious heists, but modern films often blend both. Many tropes exist, such as the mastermind and other quirky characters, an ingenious plan, the cross or double-cross within the group, and a twist that often stands things on their head at the end or is a big reveal for the audience. Ocean’s Eleven, A Fish Called Wanda, Heat, The Score, American Heist, The Sting, The Great Train Robbery, 21, Town, Inside Man, Logan Lucky.
Documentary filmmaking is the non-fiction part of cinema. Film as a medium has been used for education almost since its beginning, and theater screenings used to be preceded by a newsreel to inform audiences. Documentaries show real-life events or facts in different styles over various subgenres.
- Expository documentary: The most straightforward documentary relays information directly to the audience, often with the voice of a narrator, for example in the style of Ken Burns. This can include historic footage or even discovered footage being put into context and enriched by present-day interviews and experts weighing in. Room 237, The Blue Planet, March of the Penguins, An Inconvenient Truth, The Dust Bowl, Our Planet, The Last Movie Stars, Summer of Soul.
- Observational documentary: These films typically follow their subject closely and give a firsthand account with little commentary, letting characters speak for themselves. Harlan County, Boxing Gym, Hoop Dreams, The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun, Examined Life.
- Poetic documentary: These can take the form of a meandering essay, with a loose narrative, abstract ideas, and expressing a feeling rather than factual truth. The approach can be experimental with creative compositions and variations in storytelling. Voyage of Time, Sans Soleil, Fata Morgana, Koyaanisqatsi.
- Participatory documentary: Here, the filmmaker becomes part of the narrative in a minor or major way, either through commentary and interviews or by directly influencing the outcome. Many Michael Moore films are in this style. Free Solo, Sherman's March, Paris Is Burning.
- Reflexive documentary: A personal investigation (often of an abstract subject) that usually focuses on the filmmaker and their discovery of the subject matter. Man with a Movie Camera, Biggie & Tupac, Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?
- Performative documentary: Similar to participatory documentary, this subgenre focuses on the subjective experience and emotional response, without discussing the validity of the experience. Bowling for Columbine, The Thin Blue Line, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Dramas focus on conflict, emotions and often realism. They might unfold over a long period, or narrate all aspects of a short and crucial moment or decision. Compared to action movies, the drama genre relies less on sensationalist techniques and more on showing human nature.
- Docudrama: The hybrid between drama and documentary features dramatized re-enactments of actual events in a fact-based representation. Docudramas try to keep a high level of accuracy. Sully, Captain Phillips, 127 Hours.
- Melodrama: Intending to draw a strong emotional response, the melodrama puts plots over characters and often makes a moral argument. The Fault in our Stars, Mildred Pierce, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, City of Angels, Life is Beautiful.
- Teen drama: Any drama and coming-of-age story that focuses primarily on teenagers, their group dynamics, and their lives. Virgin Suicides, Kids, Kicks, Mid90s, North Hollywood.
- Medical drama: Set in the world of doctors, hospitals, medical staff, and the pharmaceutical industry, this genre brings out the inherent drama involved. Bringing Out The Dead.
- Legal drama: Like crime drama, this subgenre features lawyers, judges, and legal procedures, though with a focus on the drama between characters. The Practice, The Firm.
- Religious drama: Here, the conflict, themes, and drama arise from religious matters and situations or supernatural events. Silence, The Passion of the Christ.
- Sports drama: An athlete, a coach, or a team usually make up the protagonist for this drama around sports or a sports event. The Way Back, American Underdog, Creed, The Blind Side.
- Political drama: Politics, politicians, elections, and diplomacy create the conflict, drama, and stories in this subgenre. Primary Colors, Invictus, Miss Sloane, The Report, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Argo.
- Anthropological drama: This subgenre portrays humans, human behavior, society and groups of people and derives drama from them. City of God, I, a Negro, Sleeper, In A Savage Land
- Philosophical drama: The human condition and existential questions create the drama in this subgenre. The Fountain, Dead Poets Society, Donnie Darko, American Beauty, Waking Life.
Among all the movie genres, fantasy is one of the most clear-cut: it encompasses anything with fantastical elements, such as a setting inside a fictional world or universe, unnatural physics, magic, myths and mythical creatures. Subgenres in the fantasy genre are:
- Contemporary and urban fantasy: Contemporary fantasy brings fantasy elements into a contemporary world. If the setting is urban, the subgenre is called urban fantasy, as with stories that feature werewolves or vampires in a major metropolis. Meet Joe Black, Interview With The Vampire, Edward Scissorhands, The Seventh Seal, Ghostbusters, Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, Time Bandits.
- Epic Fantasy: Sometimes called high fantasy, this subgenre includes complete world-building, extensive lore, and strange creatures. Genre equivalents are the historical epic when the setting is historical and the science fiction epic when the world is largely based on science. Harry Potter, The Lord Of The Rings, Avatar, The Green Knight, Pete’s Dragon, The Dark Tower.
- Fairy Tale: These stories can be classic fairy tales, or feature a modern setting with fantasy elements, and a happily ever after ending. The Princess Bride, Mary Poppins, Enchanted, Cinderella.
- Dark Fantasy: This sub-genre blends a real-life setting with menacing, or dark fantasy elements, such as monsters from another dimension. Ugetsu, A Monster Calls, Pan’s Labyrinth.
The historical genre includes movies ‘based on a true story’ and fictional stories which take place in an accurate depiction of a historical setting or time period.
- Historical film: Movies in this subgenre can be historical dramas, but also action films or romantic dramas. They can feature a historical event, period, or characters, and context to tell the story, but shouldn’t be accepted as fact nor as accurate historical accounts. Apollo 13, Lincoln, Ben-Hur, Troy, Spartacus, Titanic.
- Period film: A period drama or period movie is nearly the same as the historical genre, but it doesn’t rely on real-life characters. The depiction of the time period can vary in accuracy but is specific and free from inventions, i.e. fiction. The Age of Innocence, Sense And Sensibility, A Room With a View, Brooklyn, The Pianist, Little Women.
- Alternate history: These stories rewrite historical events, similar to speculative fiction. They might take a crucial moment in time and change the outcome as the premise for the story, such as a different ending to WWII. Alternate history movies can blend fantasy and science fiction genre elements. Kung Fury, The Man in the High Castle, Inglourious Basterds, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Iron Sky.
- Biography: The biographical motion picture, or biopic for short, tells the life story of a subject or a portion of it, usually the period with the greatest effect or influence. Biopics typically dramatize events and make concessions for historical accuracy. A Beautiful Mind, Catch Me If You Can, House of Gucci, Vice, The Social Network, Bohemian Rhapsody, Belfast, Molly's Game, Tolkien.
The horror genre entertains with terrifying, shocking, frightening events, creatures, and stories. From macabre to grotesque to sublime, filmmakers of horror films have constantly been exploring what horrifies audiences.
- Ghost: The dead come back as spirits or ghosts to haunt people and places and torment souls. The Others, The Frighteners, The Sixth Sense.
- Zombie: The undead walk the earth. Night Of The Living Dead, 28 Days Later, Dawn Of The Dead, Black Sheep, Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland.
- Werewolf: When the moon is out, humans transform into wolf-like creatures. The Wolfman, American Werewolf, Underworld, Wolf, Wolfen.
- Vampire: Long-fanged creatures are the antagonists in this subgenre. Nosferatu, What We Do in the Shadows, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Addiction, The Lost Boys.
- Monster: Any other monster or horrifying creature that doesn't have its own subgenre. The Thing, Alien, Chucky.
- Slasher: This popular subgenre has an antagonist slashing or cutting and thus decimating a community or group of people. Psycho, Scream, Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, I Know What You Did Last Summer.
- Splatter and Gore: Gallons of blood are spilled in this subgenre which elevates gore and platter to an art form. Braindead, Jigoku, Day Of The Dead, Dead Alive, Hellraiser.
- Body Horror: The terrors of the human body make audiences uncomfortable in this subgenre. The Fly, The Human Centipede, Scanners, Videodrome, Carrie, Under The Skin, Black Swan.
- Folk Horror: Unknown terrors, often in rural regions, comprise this subgenre. Children Of The Corn, Midsommar, Ring Around The Rosie.
- Occult: In this subgenre, the horror remains largely hidden from view and paranormal things terrorize the characters and viewers. The Exorcist, Hereditary, Rosemary's Baby, A Quiet Place, Bird Box.
- Found Footage: This approach to horror features clips or footage supposedly found, recovered, or broadcast from locations or scenarios to show purportedly real-life horror, paranormal activity, or otherwise scary things and creatures. The Blair Witch Project, Lake Mungo, Creep, REC, Paranormal Activity, Host, Trollhunter, V/H/S.
- Outbreak: A virus or disease kills large parts of the world population. The Stand, The Crazies, Contagion, Outbreak, World War Z, Quarantine, Cabin Fever.
Music Film and Musical
Whenever the cast breaks into sudden song and is joined by a background chorus, you have a musical or music film on your hands. These can be film adaptations of classic Broadway musicals, or inspired creations of their own with dance choreography or dazzling special effects. The music and songs can be an integral part of the story, or give insights into the cast of characters, as they each perform a signature song of their own.
Examples here are diverse, spanning decades of filmmaking: My Fair Lady, The Wizard of Oz, Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Sound of Music, Moonwalker, In The Heights, Mamma Mia!, Grease, Cats, Les Miserables, Chicago, La La Land, 8 Women, Pitch Perfect, The Muppets, Sing Street.
Love, relationships, intimacy, connection - elements of the romance genre are part of many stories and movies, and genre crossovers exist especially with drama and comedy. Yet the basic genre elements of romance movies are lovers, passion, and relationships.
- Historical romance: Set in a certain time period, the era will influence how characters behave and pursue each other in a historical romance film. Gone with the Wind, Titanic, Doctor Zhivago.
- Regency romance: Basically a period or historical romance set in the time of the British Regency or the early 19th century and often set in the upper class. Viewers enjoy the luxury of gardens and parks, and the aesthetics of elaborate costumes, flowery language, and vibrant style. Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey.
- Romantic drama: This subgenre goes deeper into the romantic relationship than the melodrama, with themes of death, trials, separation, loss, or infidelity. Casablanca, The English Patient, Marriage Story.
- Romantic comedy: Arguably the largest romance subgenre and the light-hearted sister of the romantic drama, the rom-com combines laughs and love to churn out audience darlings with a happily ever after ending. Some Like It Hot, Love Actually, Crazy Rich Asians, Notting Hill, Sleepless In Seattle, Annie Hall, Moonstruck, The Philadelphia Story, You've Got Mail.
- Chick Flick: Though said to be marketed towards women, chick flicks are hardly niche and popular with all viewers. This type of romantic comedy has a particular dreamy feel to it, often features a sensational plot, and is a tear-jerker: a film to be consumed with a tub of ice cream and a box of tissues. Pretty Woman, Romeo + Juliet, Dirty Dancing, The Notebook.
- Fantasy romance: The fantasy or paranormal romance blends fantasy with love stories. A fantastic world or setting becomes the backdrop for an epic love plot. The Twilight Saga, Warm Bodies, I Am Dragon.
Even in the era of silent films, science fiction or Sci-Fi movies explored space, the speculative, and the future. Technology and technical advancement, AI, outer space, time travel, space travel, alien life, and humanity in the context of the universe make up the genre elements of science fiction.
- Space Opera or epic sci-fi: Within this subgenre, filmmakers explore the connection between comedy, romance, adventure, and space. Star Wars, The Fifth Element, Jupiter Ascending, Dune, The Martian, Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets.
- Utopia: In this subgenre, humanity has overcome struggle and lives in harmony in an idyllic setting, at least seemingly so. Utopian movies often include a dystopian reveal or the need to overthrow the current order. Gattaca, Tomorrowland, Equilibrium, Snowpiercer, The Island, The Truman Show, Pleasantville, The Lobster, Ready Player One.
- Dystopia: Here the opposite is true, and the setting is a world or society that is far from idyllic. Oppression, a centralized government or religion, machines or AI reigning over humans, post-apocalyptic scenarios and tech noir can all be part of this subgenre. 12 Monkeys, The Road, Children Of Men, Blade Runner, The Matrix, Interstellar, Dark City, I Am Legend, Mad Max, District 9, Idiocracy, Brazil, 1984.
- Contemporary Sci-Fi: Set in the present day or around the current time period, this subgenre typically introduces one major sci-fi element, such as a scientific breakthrough or the arrival of an alien race to introduce conflict and kick off the story. Arrival, Independence Day, Ex Machina, Gravity, Sunshine.
- Cyberpunk: A mix of a dark, futuristic society, a world of crime, high tech, cyborgs or cybernetics, virtual reality, and AI. Elysium, Blade Runner 2049, Minority Report, Looper, Watchmen, Alita: Battle Angel, The Zero Theorem, Strange Days.
- Steampunk: An offshoot of cyberpunk, this subgenre includes similar genre elements, but is set in the 19th century in the time of steam engines. Howl’s Moving Castle, Mortal Engines.
The thriller genre is broad and evokes excitement through suspense and heightened emotions. Threats, chases, tension, build-up, and danger are all part of the thriller. The protagonist faces a concrete or abstract antagonist and has to escape or overcome the opposing force, complete a mission, or solve a mystery. Hybrids are common as most movies include thriller elements, such as action-thriller, adventure-thriller, or fantasy-thriller.
- Psychological thriller: This subgenre puts focus and emphasis on the psychological state of its characters. Mysterious circumstances, paranoia, and extreme actions leading up to murder can increase the tension. Vertigo, Gone Girl, Shutter Island, Deep Water, Escape Room, Taxi Driver, Mystic River, Dead Ringers, Fatal Attraction, Blue Velvet.
- Mystery: The mystery is often a crime or murder, so this subgenre has plenty of overlap. However, solving the mystery need not involve a detective or law enforcement here. The mystery plot engages viewers in such a way that they want to find out the true meaning behind it. Knives Out, Memento, Mulholland Drive, Get Out, Blow Out, Clue, Evil Under The Sun, The Name Of The Rose, Rear Window.
- Film noir: As much a style as a movie genre, Film noir came to be in Hollywood in the 40s and 50s as black and white films with crime and moral ambiguity. Genre elements include stark contrasts in lighting, narrative monologues, femme fatales, mystery, paranoia, betrayal, and flashbacks. Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, The Third Man, In A Lonely Place, Touch Of Evil. Neo-Noir is a modern genre of film that follows the style of Film noir but brings more self-awareness, more complex (anti) heroes, subversive sidekick characters, and modern settings. Pulp Fiction, Blue Velvet, Taxi Driver, Point Blank, Drive, The Long Goodbye.
The genre elements of war movies include conflict on a large scale, war itself as the theme or even protagonist, and all the aspects and realities that arise from war. These movies often fall into other categories, such as military action, historical drama, science fiction, fantasy, or even thriller. 1917, Dunkirk, Platoon, All Quiet On The Western Front, The Thin Red Line, Pearl Harbor, Full Metal Jacket, Jarhead, 300.
The Western genre has a clear setting and defined time period. These stories take place in the American West during the 19th century. Genre elements include horse riding, cattle farming, military expansion, Native Americans, settlers, railway construction, robbery, and lots of gunfights and duels.
Examples of famous Western movies include: The Searchers, Stagecoach, McCabe & Mrs Miller, Red River, Rio Bravo, The Wild Bunch, The Naked Spur. Further common genre elements of the Western are outlaws and criminals, who are opposed by marshals, lawmen, or bounty hunters, revenge plots and stories with righteous protagonists, as well as revisionist western movies that seek to change the traditional narrative of the genre.
Spaghetti Westerns are films named after their 'heritage' of Italian filmmakers or production in Italy. Some of the best Western movies ever made fall into this category: Day of Anger, Django, A Fistful of Dollars, The Great Silence, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Modern western movies update the genre elements and tropes, and also bring new filmmaking and storytelling techniques to a traditional and historical Hollywood genre with a rich history: Unforgiven, Dances with Wolves, Django Unchained, No Country For Old Men, 3:10 To Yuma, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, True Grit, Meek’s Cutoff.