Anyone who has ever seen more than five films probably has a list of buzzwords — things that immediately attract you to a film. Even though my motto is “I’ll watch anything once,” there are definitely certain things that attract me to some films over others. If I were to compile a list of all of mine, it’d probably be about a million items long. But I’ll spare you that torture; here are the first ten that come to mind (in no particular order)!

  1. Cary Grant – Nobody should be surprised by this one. I’ve written of my love for Cary on many occasions. I’ll literally watch anything that he’s in, even if he’s got a bit part.
  2. 1940s musical – I love musicals, and the 1940s is my favorite decade of them. On the Town, The Harvey Girls, Meet Me In St. Louis, Cabin in the Sky… I could go on for days.
  3. Pre-code – The pre-code era is interesting to me, because it gives a more realistic peek into what life was like in the early to mid-20th century. Once the censors swooped in and began dictating what could and could not be shown in films, everything got a bit more sugar-coated and cheery. I can only imagine how scandalous some of the pre-code subject matter may have seemed at the time, because so many of the issues discussed were usually kept private.
  4. Sisters – My older sister is more than my only sibling — she’s my favorite person in the world, and my very best friend. For this reason, I’m always interested in stories about sisters. I can usually relate to them, or at the very least compare my own experience of sisterhood to them.
  5. Period piece – My mind is stuck in the past. Classic films aren’t even the half of it — I’m a complete history nerd as well. Period pieces are great to watch if they’re historically accurate, and great to make fun of if they’re not. You really can’t lose.
  6. Suspense – I’m not a fan of most horror simply because I’m highly prone to queasiness, but I love a good suspenseful film! Hitchcock is obviously a favorite of mine because he did what it seems like no filmmaker is capable of nowadays – achieving high levels of anxiety and suspense in the viewer without gimmicks, gruesome basement amputations or over-the-top gore.
  7. “Based on the novel” – This is especially true if I’ve already read and loved the novel, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. I love books just as much as I love films, so it’s always fun to read and then watch (though the film usually doesn’t compare to the world I construct in my brain while reading).
  8. “Based on a true story” – I love reading about and watching screen-adapted versions of wacky, out-of-the-ordinary stuff that happens to people. This probably stems from the fact that my own life is fairly mild (read: uneventful, boring).
  9. Animals – I’ve always loved animals, and as a result have always loved seeing them on screen. I’m fascinated by the natural world in general, but animals and their social structures/evolutions/daily lives most of all. Toss a documentary about primates (or even a copy of The Lion King) at me and I’m a happy camper.
  10. Journalism – Both intentionally and unintentionally, I seem to gravitate toward movies about journalism. If I see words like “journalist,” “newspaper” or “editor” in a synopsis, sign me up. But I don’t always choose movies this way — I often choose them when no mention of journalism is made in the synopsis, but end up finding a journalistic character present anyway. When I started keeping track of my movie-watching a few years ago and made a catalog of my DVD collection, I was both surprised and amused by the number of films I own/love that have prominent journalist characters. Maybe it’s simply because journalistic characters are common, but I like to think of it as fate telling me I’m headed in the right direction.

Share your own buzzwords in the comments!

Ed. note: I got this idea after watching BookRatMisty’s “Buzzwords and Deal Breakers” video on YouTube. She discusses the things that will either attract her to a book or cause her to put a wall up and enjoy it less, so I’ve decided to adapt her idea and apply it to film. Keep an eye out for the deal breakers post soon!