Genre-ally speaking – Movies that define the genre

I often think genre-up while deciding on a movie that I might want to watch next. So I thought it fitting to distil my thoughts on what movies typify a genre for me and maybe de-construct my likes/dislikes about a genre to a point where I can find movie suggestions with a higher click rate with my sensibilities.

So I have decided to ink my current thoughts on this and evolve this list through dialogue, debate and discovery, to which you are most welcome to contribute. Of course, this being an exercise in self discovery, the final decision remains mine, but I would love to be surprised by suggestions that connect with a click.

So here is how this works, I am laying out some broad genres, my choice of the movie that I think defines the genre and the twitter length reason why, and the also rans. I hope to get a discussion started on how I can improve the list with suggestions on more genre-movie combinations or movie recommendations to replace my current favorites.

This list is not a rating of the Best movie in a genre, but only a selection of the movie that best defines the genre.

So, for what its worth, here it goes.

Indiana Jones

Genre – Adventure

Top Draw – Indiana Jones
Also Ran – King Solomon’s Mines
Why this one – Foreign land’s and bad guys, jumping headlong into the unknown, adventure as it should be.

Genre – Comedy

My Cousin Vinny

Top Draw – My Cousin Vinny
Also Ran – The Whole Nine Yards
Why this one – Deadpan expressions and perfect comic timing in a very very funny movie, from Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei to all the supporting cast of the Judge, the innkeeper, pool hustler etc.

Genre – Coming of age Drama

Dead Poets Society

Top Draw – Dead poet’s society
Also Ran – To Sir, with Love , Saturday Night Fever, American Grafitti
Why this one – Poetry and passion, comedy and tragedy are fused into one absolutely marvelous affirmation of independent spirit.

Genre – Courtroom Drama

A few good men

Top Draw – A few good men.
Also Ran – A time to kill, Primal fear.
Why this one – The high tension between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicolson in even the small deceptively courteous encounters out of the court room.

Genre – Disaster


Top Draw – Twister
Also Ran – Apollo 13, Titanic.
Why this one – The streak of madness in storm chasers captured and depicted brilliantly in characters that are simple yet complex at the same time.

Genre – Epic

Ben Hur

Top Draw – Ben Hur
Also Ran – Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge on River Kwai
Why this one – A huge story, given a suitably exalted treatment, splashed across a broad canvas, and centered on a pair of well-drawn central characters.

Genre – Fantasy

Mary Poppins

Top Draw – Mary Poppins
Also Ran – Wizard of Oz
Why this one – The fluffy manner in which the story interweaves between the real and imaginary world and haunting musical score to boot – Chim Chimney Chim Chimney Chim Chim Charoo.

Genre – Film Noir

Sunset Boulevard

Top Draw – Sunset Boulevard
Also Ran – Fargo, Pulp Fiction
Why this one – Hollywood will kill you or make you insane. Piercing worldview, expressive social critique, and vivid characterizations.

Genre – Gangster


Top Draw – Goodfellas
Also Ran – Godfather, Casino
Why this one – The story told with a heavy focus on the private lifes and relationships of people on the wrong side of law, gives a human face to the gangsters.

Genre – Horror


Top Draw – Jaws
Also Ran – The Exorcist, The ring, The Shining
Why this one – Put the fear of open inviting blue seas into an entire generation and demonised sharks for their remaining evolutionary lifetime.

Genre – Love(Romance)

Love Story

Top Draw – Love Story
Also Ran – Casablanca, Sleepless in Seattle
Why this one – Pastel memories, smart quips.

Genre – Science Fiction

Star Wars

Top Draw – Star Wars
Also Ran – Event Horizon
Why this one – It’s the film that made science fiction mainstream. Earliest and best use of operatic musical score in science fiction.

Genre – Slasher

Top Draw – Psycho
Also Ran – Scream, Halloween, Suspiria
Why this one – The world saw the birth of the slasher genre and one of the earliest examples of graphic violence in film.

Genre – Heist

The Great Train Robbery

Top Draw – The Great Train Robbery
Also Ran – Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job, The Usual Suspects
Why this one – Simpler times, simpler capers, exciting storytelling nonetheless..

Genre – Thriller

Die Hard

Top Draw – Die Hard
Also Ran – Nick of time, Sudden Death
Why this one – John McClane makes all John Wayne/Rambo macho types pale in comparison… Welcome to the part pal.

Genre – War


Top Draw – Platoon
Also Ran – Saving Private Ryan, The thin red line
Why this one – A movie that regards combat from ground level, from the infantryman’s point of view, and it does not make war look like fun.

Genre – Western

The Good The Bad The Ugly

Top Draw – The Good The Bad The Ugly
Also Ran – Unforgiven, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, For a few dollars more
Why this one – Think western, and the tune immediately starts playing to the cue in your head automatically.
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One Response
  1. Sam says:

    Agreed…Just would like to add Kramer Vs. Kramer to the Also ran – courtroom drama. These movies you have mentioned – My Cousin Vinny, Indiana Jones, A Few Good Men, Ben Hur, etc. not only defined a Genre but also inspired filmmakers across the world. Maybe you should do a feature on Foreign Films that inspired World Cinema too!

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