The American Film Institute in Los Angeles, California, in 2008 honored America’s 10 greatest films in 10 classic film genres. The jury was asked to choose up to 10 movies per genre from a comprehensive list.
AFI described animated films as "a genre in which the film's images are primarily created by computer or hand and the characters are voiced by actors. A skillful combination of caricature and artistry, animation amplifies reality, offering stories that are visually stylized, but emotionally truthful. Whether it's a minimalist black squiggle or a full-blown tour-de-force of color and movement, animation allows imaginary characters and inanimate objects to spring vividly to life."
AFI described fantasy films as "a genre where live-action characters inhabit imagined settings and/or experience situations that transcend the rules of the natural world. By presenting dreamlike realms where fairies flourish, witches scheme and pigs fly, fantasy demands that audiences believe in magic and hope for wishes to come true."
AFI described gangster films as "a genre that centers on organized crime or maverick criminals in a twentieth century setting. Profit-minded and highly entrepreneurial, the American gangster is the dark side of the American dream. The gangsters' lifestyles are portraits in extremes, with audiences cheering their excesses and reveling in their demise."
AFI described science fiction as "a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation. Whether it's a flying saucer whirling through space or a gleaming city on a distant planet, at the core of all science fiction is the provocative question, "What if...?" Science fiction presents stories and situations that tap our brightest hopes and darkest fears about what might, one day, turn out to be true."
AFI described western films as "a genre of films set in the American West that embodies the spirit, the struggle and the demise of the new frontier. Brimming with subtext and mythology, westerns offer iconic images of a time gone by and perhaps a time that never was. A man of action with an unspoken code of honor, the western hero faces gun-toting opponents, hostile natives, lawless towns, the harsh forces of nature, and the encroachment of civilization. But the westerner keeps going, drawn to the freedom of the open plains and the promise of a new life."
AFI described sports films as "a genre of films with protagonists who play athletics or other games of competition. Whether smashing a ball into the outfield, landing a right hook in the final round or crossing a finish line to the roar of a crowd, sports movies create myths and larger-than-life heroes. The stakes in sports may be simple—someone wins and someone loses—but cheering for a character who faces adversity and aims for the top is an exhilarating reminder of the power of the human spirit."
AFI described mystery films as "a genre that revolves around the solution of a crime. Steeped in the unpredictability of human nature and wrapped in a tangle of plot twists, mysteries inhabit a world where the secrets are dark and the agendas well hidden. Unlike the open-endedness that characterizes so much of real life, a movie mystery delivers the ultimate satisfaction of a solution in the final reel."
AFI described romantic comedies as "a genre in which the development of a romance leads to comic situations. Romantic comedy spares no one in chronicling the horror and humiliation, the hope and despair, the agony and ecstasy of Cupid's arrow. Wrapped in fantasy and charm, laced with funny little truths about the human condition, romantic comedies remind us that we're all susceptible to that crazy thing called love."
AFI described courtroom dramas as "a genre of film in which a system of justice plays a critical role in the film's narrative. Innocent until proven guilty. These four words inspire stories where the outcome may be the difference between life and death. The drama inherent in the theatre of a courtroom—the accused enters, prosecution and defense state their case, and a jury deliberates—all build to the moment when a verdict is read."
AFI described epic films as "a genre of large-scale films set in a cinematic interpretation of the past. Their scope defies and demands—either in the mode in which they are presented or their range across time. A bloody sword fight in an ancient coliseum; carnage on an open battlefield; a country on the eve of revolution. With sweeping interpretations of turbulent times, epics depict characters that, whether nobly heroic or shamefully depraved, are living life on the grandest of scales."