Film, Movie or Picture?

Whenever you see clips from actors back in the 40’s and 50’s, they always talk about the “picture” they starred in, and other “pictures” that will soon be released and shown in a theater near you. Old movie trailers often called referred to this “motion picture” opening soon.

I think, for the most part, the word “picture” and “motion picture” has faded from vocabulary.

However, I hear some people talk about a “film” they saw last week, and others say they really liked that “movie”.

So what do you say?

I always say “movie” in casual conversation. Occasionally I’ll say “film” when wearing my cap of pretension.

I would think it odd if someone told me he was going to see a film, but I would think it was perfectly normal if someone told me he had been cast in a film or was directing a film. I guess it’s a word that is more appropriate for filmmakers than moviegoers.

“Picture” seems somewhat archaic outside of certain contexts, such as award ceremonies.

ETA: “Picture Show,” however, always makes me think of a certain tranvsestite mad scientist from outer space.

To me, “film” is reserved for one with subtitles (or really, any movie that is seeking pretentiousness).

I voted for “movie.” Oddly, one of my most regular movie-going pals refers to them as “films,” leaving us, I guess, sitting side-by-side in the theater viewing different things.

Movies are the B-grade schlock and/or mega-blockbusters that people hate to admit they love. For example: 2012, Avatar, Legion, etc, etc, etc.

Flicks are a subset of movies and are usually the grade-C schlock.

Films are the serious dramas, the Oscar contenders and most foreign pictures. For example: An Education, Precious, The Hurt Locker.

However, when talking to somehow about motion pictures, I always use the word “movies”. I may write “films” in an online conversation, but referring to a movie as a film (even if its a serious drama) just seems too filmmakery for me.

As a sometime-filmmaker, I say ‘film’. I also differentiate between a ‘film’ and a ‘video’ (though the distinction is being lost, now that more ‘films’ are being shot on video). So I voted for ‘film’.

However, I go to the ‘movies’. :wink:

I suspect that I say *movie *most of the time. I think I might use *film *as well. I don’t think I ever say picture.

Picture Show if I’m wearing fish net and glitter high heels. Film if it’s Damnnation, movie if it’s Pineapple Express.

I remember seeing a PBS show at one point, with a number of industry people talking about some recent picture, and one of the people used the word “movie” and actually corrected herself to say “film”. I think that was a major turning point for me in confirming my loss of respect for the industry and it’s insiders.

I always say movie when I’m being informal. That would be most of the time.
When I’m writing about them, I’ll try to add some variety by using both words. I like using the word “film” more because the word “movie” suggests that we, as a culture, are still surprised when we see people moving on a screen. Never used “picture”, because it suggests too much of a similarity between a photograph and a film.

Justin nailed it completely and more succinctly than I could. Good job.

Ha. I also tend to say movie, but will add film into the mix when I’m writing to avoid repetition. But your point about the element of surprise makes me want to go the movies, and then stand up and start shouting “OMG, they’re moving!”

I have a hard time justifying calling them “films”, since for the most part, they aren’t done on thin layers of celluloid any more. For the same reason, I’d really like to find a replacement word for “footage”, but I don’t know of any.

If I want to use a more pretentious word than “movie”, for some reason, I’ll use “motion picture”. And I’ll occasionally use “flick”, in a casual context.

Yeah, I noticed how weird it was a couple years back: seriously, why are we using a word that was slang for motion picture in the early twentieth century? I mean couldn’t the guys who write the dictionary think of a word for it that isn’t an obvious reference to what the screen is doing? That’s language for you though: constantly shifting. The word “movie” goes from '20s slang to the standard word for a motion picture. It makes me wonder a lot about how language changes: is it changing for the better or for the worse?

I agree that ‘movie’ sounds archaic, though not as bad as ‘flicker show’. Sometimes when I hear it, I want to ask if the movie is a talkie.

I also use the words to mean different things.

A film takes itself seriously as a work of art.

A movie is more concerned with telling an entertaining story than it is with artistic merit.

A flick is pretty pictures on screen, without much of an attempt at story or artsiness.

All three can be enjoyable to watch, as long as you appreciate them for what they are. The generic term is perhaps “motion picture”.

Definitely. It’s become so much a part of our language that it would be futile to try to change it at this point though.

I default to “movie,” but when I’m writing about them I try to mix it up: movie, film, flick, pic, picture, even sometimes “cinema,” when I’m referring to the artform as a whole.

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but most words in the language date back to considerably earlier than the early 20th century. Why isn’t it weird that we’re using slang from Shakespeare’s time, too?

For me “Movie” is an Americanism - in the UK I still say “film” though it’s now factually incorrect.
Don’t go to the cinema - More likely to be a “video” nowadays .