Large-area catalytic thin films offer great potential for green technology applications in order to save energy, combat pollution, and reduce global warming. These films, either embedded with nanoparticles, shaped with nanostructuring techniques, hybridized with other systems, or functionalized with bionanotechnological methods, can include many different surface properties including photocatalytic, antifouling, abrasion resistant and mechanically resistive, self-cleaning, antibacterial, hydrophobic, and oleophobic features. Thus, surface functionalization with such advanced structuring methods is of significance to increase the performance and wide usage of large-area thin film coatings specifically for environmental remediation. In this review, we focus on methods to increase the efficiency of catalytic reactions in thin film and hence improve the performance in relevant applications while eliminating high cost with the purpose of widespread usage. However, we also include the most recent hybrid architectures, which have potential to make a transformational change in surface applications as soon as high quality and large area production techniques are available. Hence, we present and discuss research studies regarding both organic and inorganic methods that are used to structure thin films that have potential for large-area and eco-friendly coatings.