You have an artistic soul? Interested in learning about and exploring art? If yes, then this article on the series “Learning English Through Movies” is for you! Today, eJOY will introduce to you 15 beautiful movies on the subject of Arts & Artists to bring you to the colorful world of art and learn English in a real “artsy” way! Wait no more, let’s get our journey started!


Read more:

“A To Z” Tips For Learning English with Movies


Learning English through movies – Reasons to choose

What is it with the hype of learning English through movies? Here is the answer: this method of learning is the full package! 

Expand vocabulary

In every movie, each line of dialogues is full of new words and useful expressions. In addition, vocabulary in movies is organized systematically in accordance with their topics. Therefore, many find it easier to memorize vocabulary when learning through movies. Moreover, acquiring new words in this way is proven to be more effective as we learn them in specific expressions and contexts.  

Enhance listening – speaking skills

Watching movies will help you practice listening to English at a standard speed equivalent to native people’s speed of speaking. At the same time, this method of studying allows you to approach different tones and accents of English such as American English, British English, Australian English, etc. By listening to and practicing the way movie characters combine their words, sentences, and body language, you can learn how to speak English more fluently and naturally.  

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Develop logical English thinking

Many of us learners usually develop a habit of thinking in our first language, then trying to translate that into English, which will make our ideas sound unnatural. So how to get rid of that? A method you should try is to familiarize yourself with the English way of thinking through the world of movies. When you dive into the flow of thoughts and conversations of movie characters, you will find yourself getting used to logical English thinking gradually and naturally. 

Revive interest in learning English 

It is best to learn new things with an open and passionate heart. Learning English through movies is very likely to spark more interest in you rather than traditional ways of learning. As you are immersed in the exciting world of movies, exploring new cultures and lifestyles, you will find English less intimidating and more endearing. Then learning English will simply be doing something you like. 

A step-by-step guide to learning English through movies effectively 

Below is a summary of the steps to learn English through movies effectively for Intermediate learners. To better understand this learning method, you should read our article “A To Z” Tips For Learning English with Movies” here

Step 1 – Watch the whole movie in dual subtitles

For Intermediate learners, after choosing a suitable movie, you should first attempt to watch it with dual subtitles. This will make it easier for you to grasp the main contents of the movie as well as the meaning of new words. After watching and noting down new words, you can attempt to watch the movie again but this time with English subtitles to practice on your listening and speaking skills. 

Step 2 – Extract a small part of the movie to focus on 

After watching the whole movie with the help of subtitles, you should choose a few particular scenes (under three minutes) of it to practice further. There are some exercises that you can use such as: 

  • Watch the scene with English subtitles over and over again
  • Look up and save new words and expressions to your notebook 
  • Practice listening using dictation exercises 
  • Practice speaking using the shadowing method

Step 3 – Rewatch the movie and play games to revise vocabulary 

In this step, you should watch the whole movie with English subtitles one more time to check how many percents of new words have you memorized and how much of the movie you can understand. After that, don’t forget to play fun vocabulary games to brush up on the words you have learned from the movie on eJOY eXtension or eJOY app. 

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Top 15 must-see movies on Arts & Artists

15 names on this list are the result of a process of careful selection from the eJOY team to provide you with the most interesting and diverse movie list on this topic. They can all be found on Netflix or Amazon Prime. By downloading eJOY eXtension on Google Chrome, your learning experience on Netflix and Amazon will be more pleasant as you can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate easily, for example, repeat a line, access auto-pause feature, and more. You can find more details about how to use eJOY eXtension on Netflix here.

1. Pollock (2000)

Pollock is a unique biography film, with skillful direction as well as charismatic acting of the lead actors and actresses – Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. The movie depicts the life story of Jackson Pollock, an extremely talented yet troubled artist, which is especially outstanding when recreating Pollock’s relationship with his wife, and how the demon inside him cut short and gradually ruined his monumental and brilliant art career.

The movie impresses English learners with the very standard and ear-pleasing American English accent from main actor Ed Harris. Following through with the movie developments and content is also made easier thanks to the system of clear dialogues with a slow to moderate speaking speed. The movie also equips the audience with rich vocabulary related to painting such as: “collection”, “mural”, “masterpiece”, “abstract”, etc.

2. Frida (2002)

Based on the true story of the life of the talented artist Frida Kahlo, this movie vividly depicts the life and career of a famous 20th-century art icon. A highlight of the movie is the depiction of Frida’s complex and equally unsettling relationships with two men: her marriage to her husband and illicit love affair with Leon Trotsky. Her passionate and generous attitude in art, politics, and sex is one of the remarkable and impressive points about Frida which does not fail to impress her contemporaries as well as us modern audiences.

3. Girl With A Pearl Earring (2003)

While working as a domestic servant for the house of the painter Julian Verminer, young Griet gradually gets closer to Julian. After being persuaded by Julian many times, Griet became the role model for the heroine in Julian’s richest artwork. In those works, she poses with pearl earrings. The two souls that seem to be different and far away from finding common voices through the connecting thread are art.

4. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

The movie follows the inspirational journey of Kinda Watson, a UCLA graduate who was recently accepted as an art history teacher at Wellesley University in 1953. Determined to fight against obsolete prejudices of society and limitations for women, Kinda inspires her students, including Betty and Joan, to challenge the lives that are destined for them and follow their dreams. 

Mona Lisa Smile is a movie suitable for learners currently in the Pre-Intermediate level and above, especially for practicing English speaking and listening skills. The speaking speed, pronunciation, and intonation of the cast in the movie are very standard, accurate, and lively. Besides, inspirational dialogues from Kinda (Julia Robert) will give you valuable suggestions on how to give a full speech to impress and convince a crowd.

5. Step Up (2006)

Tyler Gage was a troublesome young man who was recently sentenced to 200 hours of community service at the Maryland School of the Arts. He quickly caught the eye of Nora, a talented ballet student, who was trying to add hip-hop movements to her classical dance routines. After a bit of initial hesitation, Nora successfully convinced Tyler to help her perform the dance. The love between the two quickly rekindled together with their mutual passion toward art.

6. Midnight in Paris (2011)

Gil Pender is an aspiring screenwriter and novelist. During a visit to Paris with his fiancée, Gil wandered around the city alone. During such a late-night outing, Gil encounters a group of strange – but somewhat familiar – people who take him away, apparently back in time, to enjoy a night with some of the most famous icons of art and literature in the Golden Jazz Age in the heart of the magnificent Paris.

7. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

Finding Vivian Maier is a documentary about the late Vivian Maier artist, a babysitter whose secret memory contains 100,000 photos that have never been known to the public before. This incredible collection has earned her an admirable reputation as one of the most talented street photographers.

This documentary takes the audience to explore the mysterious life and career of Vivian Maier through the accounts of experts, artists, and acquaintances who have connected with her throughout her life. Therefore, when watching this movie, we get to listen to a variety of conversations and interviews, with many different voices, many speakers as well as different levels of expertise. This will be the perfect movie to practice listening skills because the arrangement of the movie is quite similar to the structure of a complete listening test.

8. National Gallery (2014)

The National Gallery in London is one of the world’s major museums with 2400 paintings from the 13th to the late 19th century. Almost every human experience is represented in at least one painting in the gallery. The movie takes audiences to visit various galleries; educational programs, and scholars, scientists, and curators, during the course of their research, restoration, and exhibition planning.

9. Big Eyes (2014)

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, artist Walter Keane achieved incredible fame and success with portraits of abandoned children with big round eyes. However, no one realized that Walter’s wife, Margaret, was the real artist behind the famous paintings. Although Margaret was horrified to learn that Walter was claiming all the results from her paintings, she was too meek to strongly oppose that act. It was not until their marriage ended with a subsequent lawsuit that the truth about the big-eye paintings finally came to light.

10. Whiplash (2014)

Andrew Neyman, an ambitious young jazz drummer, is determined to pursue his professional career in music. Terence Fletcher is a renowned music trainer specializing in leading top jazz talents in the music school but is also notorious for his harsh methods. Fletcher discovered Andrew and brought the drummer to his own band, forever changing the life of the young man. Passion for perfection caused Andrew to fall into a spiral of obsession because the ruthless teacher repeatedly pushed him to the limit of spirit and strength.

From the perspective of English learners, Whiplash’s language has average difficulty, suitable for the Intermediate level. The movie especially uses a lot of phrasal verbs, such as: “mess with somebody”, “take somebody out”, “hold onto something”, …

11. Loving Vincent (2017)

In a story depicted in the form of an animation simulating oil paintings, a young man returns to the last home of the talented painter Vincent van Gogh to send his final letter to his younger brother. A series of continuous events led and inspired the young man to delve into the final days and the reason behind the sorrowful death of the great artist.

12. Abstract: The Art of Design (2017)

The Art of Design is Netflix’s original documentary series that portraits the career stories of prominent artists in the design field. The series gives the audience a look beyond designs and computers, diving into art and design science, introducing great designers from all industries, and their efforts in the industry that is shaping our world.

13. Coco (2018)

The movie is about the journey of Miguel, a boy who loves music but grows up in a family that forbids the appearance and pursuit of music. Miguel has always enkindled his dream of becoming a famous musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. However, the family’s cruel tradition made it impossible for him to prove his talent. Shaking off the harsh reality, Miguel found himself in the beautiful and colorful Soul Land after a series of mysterious events. In the journey to explore new lands, Miguel meets “tricky” Hector. The two create a magical adventure to uncover the secrets that have not been revealed about the history of the Miguel family.

As a light-hearted family-themed animated movie, Coco is easy to watch, understand and learn from, especially for those who are getting used to learning English through movies. Coco is suitable for those who have English proficiency from High Beginner upwards. The songs in the movie are extremely catchy and easy to remember, which is also a highlight that makes it more attractive to English learners.

14. A Star Is Born (2018)

The movie is about the love story of the famous country musician Jackson Maine, also an alcoholic and the anonymous singer Ally with a powerful voice but lacking the opportunity to shine. Meeting Ally at an unfamiliar bar, Jackson was soon overwhelmed by her charismatic vocals. As soon as their relationship is immersed in sweetness, challenges appear. Ally’s singing career is going up while her lover – who discovered her talent and helped her develop her career – is struggling to get back his glory.

15. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Bohemian Rhapsody is a film based on the true story of the global iconic rock band Queen, from humble beginnings to the legendary performance of 1985 at the LiveAid concert at Wembley Stadium. The story revolves around the life of the talented lead singer Freddie Mercury of Queen and his intense journey from an out-of-society immigrant struggling to find a foothold to become a famous artist beloved worldwide.

Have the 15 super cool movies on the list above “awakened” the artist in you yet? Do not forget to save this movie list and spend time practicing with your favorite movies to improve your vocabulary as well as your listening and speaking skills in an effective yet entertaining way. One more tip for you: download eJOY eXtension today to make learning English through movies simpler and more convenient!

Download eJOY eXtension now!

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