Because movies are a common part of life for most people, it is quite common for them to appear in the IELTS exam. It is very possible that you could be asked to talk about them in the speaking test, for example.

As such, in this lesson I am going to show you how to talk about movies by giving you some useful language for describing them. We’ll also look at sample questions from the IELTS exam.

You can learn about other common IELTS topics here.

Vocabulary about Movies

First of all, let’s look at some useful movie-related vocabulary. We will group it in different sets so that it is easier to learn.

Types of Movies

Let’s look at the different types of movies. These are called “genres.” (This is a French word, but it is commonly used by native speakers of English.)

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Animated
  • Biopic
  • Comedy
  • Disaster
  • Documentary
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Gangster
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Kung-fu
  • Musical
  • Mystery
  • Noir
  • Romance
  • Romantic comedy (or “rom-com”)
  • Satire
  • Science fiction
  • Slasher
  • Sports
  • Spy
  • Thriller
  • Western
  • Zombie

Note that there are other types of movies and of course some movies fall into more than one category. There are also various subgenres (meaning a specific type of film within a wider genre). The slasher and zombie genres above, for example, are part of the wider horror genre. In terms of comedies, we also have “dark comedy” and so on.

There’s a list of movie genres (and subgenres) on Wikipedia.

Describing Movies

It is not enough to just know the names of movie types. You should also be able to describe movies. That means you should be able to talk about them a little bit.

Here are some useful adjectives:

  • Amusing
  • Bone-chilling
  • Captivating
  • Challenging
  • Compelling
  • Creative
  • Creepy
  • Dramatic
  • Educational
  • Engaging
  • Exciting
  • Exhilarating
  • Fascinating
  • Frightening
  • Gripping
  • Hilarious
  • Horrifying
  • Humorous
  • Hysterical
  • Informative
  • Inventive
  • Original
  • Riveting
  • Spine-tingling
  • Terrifying
  • Thrilling

You should choose a term that is appropriate and then use it to describe a type of movie that you want to discuss. For example:

  • I like action films because they are exhilarating.

This could easily be used in the IELTS speaking test, combining a genre word with an example and an adjective to explain. Here’s a common part one question:

  • A: What kind of movies do you like watching?
  • B: I really like watching action movies like the Avengers because they are exhilarating.

You can avoid very common words like “funny” and “interesting” by upgrading them to more accurate synonyms:

  • I recently saw a hilarious film!
  • I watched a movie last weekend that was captivating.

Other Vocabulary

Try to avoid being formulaic with your language. Instead of just inserting lots of those adjectives, we can express ourselves in other ways. Instead of saying “funny” or “hilarious,” we could say:

  • That movie made me laugh out loud!
  • I just couldn’t stop laughing.
  • It was really silly but I liked it a lot.
  • Sometimes you just need a good laugh.

Likewise, when talking about documentaries, it is tempting to say they are “interesting” or “educational,” but we can say more:

  • They teach us about our world.
  • Documentaries open our eyes to important issues.
  • I saw a documentary that really inspired me.

We can also go beyond just our personal feelings and describe the movies in slightly more objective ways. For example:

  • Fantasy movies involve magic, supernatural events, and exotic worlds.

Here, I have explained what the movie contains. The word “involve” is very useful! Let’s see some other ways that we can include it:

  • Comedies involve ridiculous situations and hilarious characters.
  • Disaster movies involve lots of dramatic action and terrifying scenarios.
  • Action movies involve incredible stunts and fast-paced action.

Film vs Movie

So far, I have talked about “movies” because this word is now more common, but in my country (the United Kingdom), we also say “film.” You can use either of these words in IELTS because they are both correct. However, be aware that if you travel to America you will more likely hear “movie” and in the UK you’ll more likely hear “film.”

Bonus: People in the UK talk about “going to the cinema” whilst in America people might say “going to the movie theatre.”

IELTS Speaking Questions about Movies

Here are some questions about movies that you may encounter in the IELTS speaking test.

Part One

  • Do you like to watch films?
  • How often do you go to a cinema or watch a movie?
  • What was the first film that you watched?
  • Do you prefer foreign films or local films?
  • What genre of movies do you enjoy most?
  • Which was the first movie that you watched?
  • Which genre of movies do you try to avoid?
  • What kind of movies did you like to watch when you were a child?
  • Has your taste in films changed as you’ve got older?

Part Two

Describe a film that you have recently seen. You should say:

  • what the film was
  • when and where you saw it
  • what the film was about

and explain how you felt about this film.

Describe your favourite movie. You should say:

  • what the film is about
  • who the characters are
  • what message the movie gives

and explain why you like it so much.

Describe a book or a film that had a strong impact on you. You should say:

  • what was it
  • when you read or saw it
  • how it influenced you

and say if you liked it and why.

Part Three

  • Do old people and young people like watching the same kinds of films?
  • To what extent do you think films reflect real life?
  • Do you think people will continue to go to the cinema in the future?
  • Statistics show that visits to the cinema are up despite the availability of DVDs and online downloads. Why do you think this might be?
  • What kinds of films are popular in your country?
  • Why do you think some people prefer going to the cinema to watching films at home?
  • What’s the difference between the movies or your country and Hollywood movies?
  • What do you think of violent films?
  • Why do you think people like watching films?
  • Is cinema a popular form of entertainment in your country?
  • Do you think films have changed since you were a child? How?
  • As the technology for home viewing improves, do you think people will stop going to the cinema in future?