Movie Posters

List: 10 of the Worst Film Posters of 2012


Everyone is gearing up for the Oscar nominations tomorrow and while everyone is already pretty much done with their 2012 film lists, I’m just now gearing up to do mine. The next couple of weeks will feature a number of silly little lists that recap what stuck out for me in the year in film.

Coming up with the ten worst posters of the year is a much more difficult task than picking my favorites. For one thing, there are heaps upon heaps of mediocre to terrible movie posters. It becomes challenging to sift through and separate the merely bad to the incomprehensibly terrible especially when bad posters need to make their impression in a split second as there’s a lot to sift through. Any of my choices could very easily be switched out and replaced with something equally worthy of a slot.

I feel like there was a lot more variety with my list last year and a lot less guffaw-worthy picks this year. My choices can be boiled down to trends of overstuffed clutter, dazed and confused faces stacked up next to each other, bland-as-bland-can-be and a general feeling of laziness.

What were your worst posters of the year? Since there are dozens of others as bad as the ten I chose, tell me what stuck out to you as the WORST.

There’s no order to these this year. I didn’t feel like there was a clear number one or two for that matter. So I just shuffled them arbitrarily for your viewing displeasure.

wrath_of_the_titans_ver15

Wrath of the Titans
This Wrath of the Titans poster stands to represent the countless (thousands really) action-epic character posters each year. I chose this one because it managed to somehow ruin the Greek God beauty that is Edgar Ramirez. Look at that! Do you ‘Feel the Wrath’ when you look at his face? He looks like he’s taking a dump.

someday_this_pain_will_be_useful_to_you_ver2

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

What I hate-love about this poster is the way the title contrasts with the ensemble cast. Lucy Liu looks radiant and unaffected but everyone else looks skeptical. “Really?” they say. “Someday this pain will be useful to me? Really?” Nobody is convinced. Anything that says ‘from the producers of Life is Beautiful‘ is an automatic fail because fuck that noise.  Random squares of faces on a poster is the standard trope of the ensemble indie drama and I unequivocally hate it. There must be a better way to advertise smaller ensemble dramas. I know the main selling point is the actors but there must be a better way.

soldiers_of_fortune_ver2

Soldiers of FortuneAgain, it’s the faces that do it for me. On the one hand you’ve got James Cromwell, eyes like a hawk, roaring to go snipe some enemy folk. Then you’ve got….everyone else. With the mild exception of Ving Rhames aside, everyone else looks sooo bored. These actors are all contemplating the state of their careers and are coming up blank. “How did it come to this?”, as they half-heartedly shake their heads. These are Soldiers of Fortune? These are “the best” that the tagline refers to?

stolen

Stolen
Stolen looks more like a Taken rip-off than Taken 2 was a Taken rip-off. It’s to be expected, but my God, have you no shame? Stolen is a synonym of Taken! It has the same color orange that was used for the most often seen posters for Taken and Taken 2. It is covered in text explicitly laying out in numbers and cold hard facts that this is the same plot as Taken. The one difference? Instead of Liam Neeson looking down, stoic and determined, we’ve got Nicolas Cage…running away from an upside down exploding car….

think_like_a_man

Think Like a Man
Let the mind games begin. Because women play mind games. None of the women are looking directly at the camera. All of the men are. Clearly a one-sided take on gender relations, this poster reads as a sympathy plea from the men. The women may be beautiful but the guys facial expressions read as “can you believe what I gotta deal with?” Indeed. I’m sure my issues would lie even more in the actual film than the poster which likely accurately represents the product.

babymakers_ver2

The Babymakers

The jizz is up you guys. The jizz is up. I’m beside myself with laughter. Again with the nondescript faces against nondescript backgrounds against an even more nondescript white poster. Are these supposed to be facial expressions of various surprise? A baby is coming! There is nothing appealing about this. I don’t see how it could make anyone interested in seeing it, even the Beerfest demographic.

generation_um

generation Um…
Worst. Film. Title. Ever. Also one of the worst posters ever. What is this, 1999? This looks horrible. I’m pretty sure Keanu Reeves is not in the same generation as these nubile youngsters but fine. Sex, drugs and indecision. Sounds like a breath of fresh air, this film does. And AGAIN with the blank expressions. Yep, that looks to me like indecision. Life whizzes past them in a flurry of colorful flashes. I love Keanu’s ‘what are you looking at’ face. Great stuff.

east_fifth_bliss

The Trouble with Bliss

This must have been a really early poster because the title of this was changed and the subsequent posters, while not good, are nowhere near as embarrassing as this. That’s what this is; embarrassing. I could have done this. I seriously think I could have done this and I know nothing about nothing. That this was ever released as an official piece of advertising is just sad. I don’t care how low-budget you are. There’s enough people with enough skill who can work with next to nothing and come up with more than this. And I adore you Michael C. Hall but you look icky and grody. Brie Larson’s out-of-focus legs are making a better impression on me. I feel like I’m in a middle-aged slacker’s bedroom (not a good feeling)….which has a giant map in it…?

thousand_words_ver2

A Thousand Words
There’s no logic here. The film’s main poster was far from a winner, but this other one apparently exists. It’s a beyond lazy greatest hits splicing from the film’s various parts. He’s a family man! He helps the elderly! He’s helping a blind man cross the street! He’s kissing Kerry Washington’s forehead (she deserves so much better)! It’s got a two-part tagline that describes the plot and the point of the film in one go because you certainly can’t figure out what the hell is going on from the images. The font is unspeakably awful. There’s no structure. There isn’t even a border around the publicity stills. The poster literally is just a bunch of publicity stills. With Eddie Murphy doing his thing in the center.

List: Top 20 Film Posters of 2012


It’s that time of year again; and joy and elation of 2012 lists! The others will be posted in January, far after everyone is sick of reading round-ups of the past 12 months. But since I’ve got stuff to catch up on, the date stays.

The poster lists are perhaps the ones I always look forward to the most. The vast majority of film posters, in their primary advertising function, are rehashes of the same basic format depending on the genre and plot. Not to sound too condescending but casual movie-goers tend to gravitate towards repetition and the comfort of being able to rely on concrete expectations. Posters have to sell this too. Marketers want people to be able to look at a poster and know what they are going to get when they walk into that theater.

But this is a considerable generalization; for all the forgettable to questionable images each year has to offer, there are a lot of top-notch posters too. These are the 20 posters that rank as my favorites from 2012. The only condition is that it had to get a US release this year and only one poster per film. Since most films do not get released here, it disqualifies a lot of great work, but it would just be too hard to sift through everything otherwise.

Here is 2011’s list: http://cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/list-top-20-film-posters-of-2011/

And 2010’s: http://cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/top-20-film-posters-of-2010/

The best poster I came across that I could not count (but will post here anyways because, um, amazing) is Xavier Dolan’s latest Laurence Anyways which right now has no US release date. Does it even have distribution yet? Not sure. Anyways, it’s very Last Tango in Paris, very effortlessly retro, very pink and just all-around sickening.

laurence_anyways_ver2

So while in theory, this is supposed to be about the poster art and not the films attached to them, it is impossible not to bring that context into the proceedings. If this list has is skewed towards my own taste (I’ve seen 16/20 of the films) from this year than that would be why.

two_days_in_new_york

Honorable Mention:  2 Days in New York

My reason for this is the instantaneous reaction to the colors which are vibrant, lively and look almost crayon-like in execution. It is a very simple and even bland image, even if it feels sacrilegious to refer to a picture of Julie Delpy as bland. But I am easy to please and while there were plenty of more creative options out there to choose from, my instinct said ‘oooooh cooolllllooooorrrsssss’. I also cannot get enough of how the colors ever so slightly run into their hair.

gerhard_richter_painting

20. Gerhard Richter Painting

We continue on the ‘Katie is Easily Pleased by Colors’ theme (an ongoing one that will appear constantly). The poster quite literally reflects the title of the film. Cheeky. The long sequences in this doc that show Gerhard Richter painting is some of the best documentary footage from this year. Honestly, this could have been the whole film and it would likely have an even higher spot on my year-end list.  So the poster evokes a sequence I could not take my eyes off of, so between that and the startling colors = on the list.

lincoln

19. Lincoln

This is a surreally uncanny image that immediately immortalizes the idea of Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. It’s actually disturbingly uncanny. The longer you look at it the more reality seems to implode on itself. Has Daniel Day-Lewis always been Lincoln? Was Lincoln in fact Daniel Day-Lewis? Oh, the questions this poster raises. The profile shot and the statuesque look really make this the best it can be.

zero_dark_thirty

18. Zero Dark Thirty

I love me some minimalist posters. This one is a teaser image that just sticks with you immediately. I cannot get enough of the redaction and how the only actual additional non-text element of this poster is something that tries to take away. Like everyone else I cannot wait to see what Kathryn Bigelow does with this film and the way its advertising was handled has been thoroughly successful.

michael

17. Michael

Another really minimal poster, but with all honesty, how does one go about advertising a difficult-to-watch (but for my money worth it) arthouse film about a pedophile who has a boy in his basement? So I’d call this a resounding success on all counts considering that it gets around the challenge and is fabulous to boot. The color choice is memorable as well as the puzzle concept allowing for subtle shading and dimension.

girl_model

16. Girl Model

This poster is really just one of the first shots of Girl Model, a haunting documentary that just scratches the surface of the unsurprisingly seedy underbelly of the bottom rungs of the modeling industry. The mirror image creates a slight distortion that reflects the sad logic of how this occupational world works. And I love slightly out-of-focus images and the mirror gives it that inestimable ‘feel’ that I am so drawn to.

attenberg-poster-300

15. Attenberg

I could have easily chosen another poster from the film but went with this one which really captures the off-kilter strangeness of the small but very significant recent wave of Greek films to make their way over here. First of all, I love this scene. Throughout Attenberg are sprinkled scenes of the main character and her friend walking along a street in increasingly complex synchronization. There is something about two young girls letting in their instincts and being confrontational about it that reminds the amazing feminist and surrealist film Daisies. So there’s that. The poster has a great combination of having a simple background that forces focus to the pose and stance of the subjects. It reflects the extremely strong focus these films have on the body and body language with its possible contortions and positions.

Here is the scene containing the pose depicted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SrOfBIvrpQ

frankenweenie_ver14

14. Frankenweenie

It’s a Tim Burton sketch so of course this poster rules. It is like they are saying ‘don’t forget Tim Burton was once capable of not sucking’. It is a strong enforcer of the idea that Burton is revisiting and updating his roots with this one. This was not one of the main posters used for the marketing, which from that standpoint I understand. But it’s a gorgeous illustration that brings the Sparky design back to its “Family Dog” influence (more like replica) and he has just about the quirkiest expression of endearment I’ve ever seen.

paul

13. Paul Williams Still Alive

Stop Making Sense font; check. The top of Paul Williams head; check. Number 13 spot; check.

elena_ver2

12. Elena

The illustration here is so stark and evocative. It depicts two colors, trees, the outline of a person looking out and a bird flying by. The color feels like the sun is just about to rise which is how Elena starts. The left side is used for some deserved festival bracket whoring. It’s a foreboding image with a blue I cannot take my eyes off of. And I love that microscopic eye detail on the bird.

cabin_in_the_woods_ver6

11. The Cabin in the Woods

Another poster that was nowhere near the primary one used but thankfully it was given the frameworthy poster treatment. A take on Escher’s Relativity, the sepia-toned drawing nails what Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon’s film is really about. The picture gets the trapped and constructed environment of the characters. And the tagline, which seems cliché at first glance, just like the purposely broad title, is actually perfect.

sound_of_my_voice_ver2

10. Sound of My Voice

This is so mysterious and ambiguous just like the film’s conceit. The handshake feels like another language. The instructional format feels like a retro kitsch-piece. The crunched up folding makes it seem like we are looking at something we shouldn’t be seeing. It feels like something from a pastime, which is apt given what the characters in the story’s cult are wont to believe.

paranorman_ver7

9. Paranorman

There is a whole batch of Paranorman posters equally fabulous that could be in its place. Again, the main posters were certainly serviceable but there is a whole slew of great artwork that was done to promote the Focus Features film. It’s the blocking of the different images that draws me in as well as, again, the use of the orange, green and blue colors. The way the font is strewn across the poster is reminiscent of a 50’s B-movie.

compliance

8. Compliance

This is my number one movie I haven’t seen this year. I feel like it’s got a fair shot at being near the top of my year-end list, however unfair those expectations may be. Dreama Walker, who can be seen on “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23″, has a somehow enigmatic expressionlessness. I just love this shot and where she is in the frame related to the text. And quotes galore! Quotes make you go ‘ooooh what is this about’. Walker’s prominence in the poster could mean anything. Add in the dubious title and I was dying to find out what all the fuss and controversy of the film was about and whether or not it was justified. It grabbed my interest immediately; exactly what a poster is supposed to do.

master_ver4

7. The Master

The film is quite a bit like a Rorschach test. Though one pops up early in The Master, this image also reflects the open-wide interpretive room of the characters and how they interact with and change each other. It’s an enigma but at the same time it’s not. Again, loving the folded-up quality, making it seem like a pamphlet of sorts. There is a black-and-white version but I actually prefer the color. In a substantial misrepresentation, Joaquin Phoenix is looking far too sane, no?

holy_motors

6. Holy Motors

This would have been in the top 5 if not for the distracting title art. The title art and font look very cheap to me and is not successfully integrated into the rest of the poster. It looks like the title is uncomfortably resting on top instead of being part of. But Denis Lavant, playing many different identities here, is seen as a black shadowed blank slate. The headlights of the limo are the eyes, placed in the headspace, which is likely where the film takes place. At the very least Holy Motors has its own internal logic that gleefully defies any explanation. And the poster certainly hints at this. My favorite thing about this is the sketchy yellow scribble. Just one of those inspired touches.

beauty_is_embarrassing

5. Beauty is Embarrassing

Using Wayne White work in a documentary about Wayne White equals a spot in my Top 5 posters. It’s playfully bizarre and the way the letters form a kind of landscape in the background is seamlessly appropriate.

alps-movie-poster-2011-1020744017

4. Alps

Here is yet another minimalist poster. The abstract Dogtooth poster had a place this high as well two years ago. This one actually has the characters in it and I find the shape their placement creates to be hypnotic, much like the film. There is an almost slightly oversaturated grainy quality to the images that make them blend in with the background in interesting ways. And anything featuring Aggeliki Papoulia’s mesmerizing face is okay by me.

barbara_ver2

3. Barbara

I think you all know what’s coming. You can sense it the second you look at the poster. COLORS!!!! Oh the glorious combination of these colors! Look at how lush this visual is. It’s quite stunning. Everything pops here and it’s a really creative poster in a lot of subtle ways. The red! The green! The yellow! The title placement! See? Subtle.

loneliest_planet

2. The Loneliest Planet

Let’s start with that intensely profound statement at the top. Jeez Louise. Talk about lofty expectations. After Compliance and Amour, this is probably what I’m craving to see the most that I haven’t yet. Luckily it’s on demand so first thing when I get back to CT? Yep. This gorgeous green, which just barely reveals itself as actual land is to die for, as is the juxtaposition of the two close-up faces against their far-away selves amidst the green. And let’s talk about that red hair! Well, okay I’ve got nothing more to say about it….but look at it! And are her eyes green too? This poster just stuck with me instantaneously and its pleasing to look at but also further piques my interest.

innkeepers

1. The Innkeepers

I already knew this would be my number 1 poster before even doing my 2011 list last year. Since The Innkeepers had been kicking around at fests for a while, the poster has been out for quite some time. It’s so intricate and beautifully haunting. It’s got a snarky tagline. The blue-grays, the title design, the borders and shapes; all of it is flawless. There’s a lot going on here but it’s not too much. And lastly, it’s got my favorite film character from a 2012 film no contest. Yeah, I’m looking at you Sara Paxton.
Stay tuned because within the next week my Top 10 Worst Posters of 2012 will be posted.

List: Top 10 Worst Film Posters of 2011


Tis the season for 2011 film lists. This is the time of year where critics’ circles, bloggers, magazines, etc. roll out an endless barrage of best-of lists. I like to do a bunch of them (all going by favorites, not ‘best’); most will not be posted until January when I’ve seen most everything I meant to catch this year. I’m at 120 2011 films so far and I definitely have more I want to see. By that point, everyone will be sick of these lists, if they aren’t already, but such is the situation.

Coming up with the ten worst posters of the year is a much more difficult task than picking my favorites. For one thing, there are heaps upon heaps of mediocre to terrible movie posters every year. It becomes challenging to sift through and separate the merely bad to the incomprehensibly terrible. Several of my picks would remain under any circumstances; they jump out immediately as being particularly troubling. However, about half of my choices, while brutal, could very easily be switched out and replaced with something equally worthy of a slot.

As I said in my ‘Top 20 Film Posters of 2011’ list, my choices here are going to be a bit repetitious in regards to other lists in this vein. In brainstorming for this, I found myself agreeing with a lot of the choices made by others. So I apologize for the lack of originality here.

10. Certifiably Jonathan
The sole reason this is on here is because of how terrifying Jonathan Winters is in that picture. Font and shameless showcase of which actors will pour on the praise aside, this is just more unintentionally off-putting than words can describe. Who would look at the cover of this and want to watch it?

9. The Darkest Hour
My immediate reaction to this poster was what sealed the deal for its inclusion. The second I saw it, I burst out laughing. Other posters on this list incited guffaws and confusion, but this one really just made me laugh. It is impossible to take seriously on any level; a sorry excuse for a 3D ad. The quality is pretty substandard as well. It almost looks like a Syfy original movie.

8. A Little Help
Maybe it’s because I just don’t like Jenna Fischer. Maybe it’s because her childishly helpless expression suggests that she needs ‘a little help’. Not to mention the weird photoshop work that makes her look like Steven Tyler. In the end, I’m sure many more offensively bad posters could go in this slot…but I just see Pam from The Office when I look at this. And there are few characters I hate more than Pam from The Office.


7. Dear Lemon Lima
I appreciate a poster that wears its identity on its sleeve, but not when that identity makes me want to bash my own head in. This is the kind nauseating faux-quirk I cannot stand. Pink-haired girl’s pouty pout-pout face, the cutesy cursive, the adolescent doodles, the fucking unicorns; I can’t. Thanks, but no thanks.


6. Zookeeper
I have to admit that this poster is so awful that I actually kind of love it. I really do; it’s the only poster on here that transcends how abysmal it is, becoming something I legitimately enjoy.


5. A Bag of Hammers
There’s nothing like having the title of your film literalized in the most pitiful way possible. The title contains the word hammers. So, clearly having a poster with hammers falling out of the sky was the way to go. Are those hammers going to hit any of the characters? Why is everyone placed so awkwardly? Why is everyone looking at this kid who is creepily peeping out of the bottom? Who made these decisions and why? Surely there was a better way to advertise this film. Or is the film so boring that this really is the best they could come up with?


4. Martha Marcy May Marlene 
I get that having a QR code as your poster is theoretically a really great marketing technique. But when it renders the advertisement ugly as sin, is it really worth it? Everything about this is off; the version of this without the QR code is misguidedly bare. There are excellent posters for Sean Durkin’s debut feature that were used; it is a pity that this was the one I ran into most often in theaters.


3. The Chaperone
Does Triple H normally look like his face was molded with putty? I really know nothing about him at all. Do I really have to go into this? I mean….Good Lord.


2. X-Men: First Class 
Talk about unfortunate. There are only two things happening here and both of them are really poorly handled even beyond the lack of potential inherent within these teasers. First, the shadowy cut-out of Professor Xavier; it looks like it was shorn by a five-year old. Second, there is the disembodied floating head. Its placement was almost certainly decided from a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. That this is a teaser image that got approved for marketing is more than a little perplexing. Who thought this would make us want more?

1. Big Momma’s House: Like Father, Like Son
It cannot be disputed that there is a worse poster than this from 2011. It uncomfortably mocks Lady Gaga. If the tagline hadn’t been there, I’m not sure if I would have immediately understood what this poster was trying to reference. I do not see the FBI badges as FBI badges. I look at them and I see…monkey heads? I have no idea who came up with this, but it is all fake, bizarre and borderline disturbing.

List: Top 20 Film Posters of 2011


If you have eyes, then I’m guessing you’re sick of seeing the same images again in again with different actors acting as various ciphers. There’s Photoshopping galore, some it truly sad. Each genre has its own set of expectations. They have all become tired; heaps of tragically unaware self-parodies plastered everywhere. Each year we can lament and question; where has the magic of movie posters gone?

Well, it’s not entirely gone. Hopefully my choices this year will emphasize that periodically something aesthetically worthy comes along. I cannot lie though; the countless mediocre/pitiful posters I had to go through to get to these is more than a little disheartening. I would go through 100 posters before anything stuck out.

The ‘Worst Posters’ list will soon follow. But I prefer this list this year. Why? Because there have been a few Worst Posters list to come out already and I must admit that after doing my own research, they hit the nail on the head for nearly all of them. Which means that my list and theirs will be very similar.

What were your personal favorite posters of the year? Here are the 20 film posters of 2011 that represent mine. The rule was only 1 poster per film. I do not claim these to be the best; just the ones that caught my eye the most and that I find myself most drawn to. I have seen 14/20 of the films here. A few of these films I’m not really a fan of but a great poster is a great poster regardless of the quality of the film it represents (and I won’t be getting into which films those are here). Off we go.


20. Shit Year
Here, we get Ellen Barkin, whose presence seems to be single-handedly melting the watercolors (Watercolors? Inked water? I suck). She looks like a clown, has a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and the title indicates this was not a very good year for her. This poster makes me want to find out why.

As the list continues, you will see a lot of ‘it makes me want to know more’. That is what a poster should do. It is first and foremost an advertisement. If it can do this in a way that is not tired or a simple rehash of the ten stock images we get from posters these days, it is a success.


19. Hobo with a Shotgun

Last year I had a couple of posters on my list that evoked the exploitation era. Hobo with a Shotgun, coming from Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse trailer contest, follows suit in what has now become a welcome trend. Creases, lots of action overlapping with each other, a self-aware tagline; it’s all there.

You will see as we go through the list just how represented Magnet releases are (five total). They do some of the most consistent poster work out there and they deserve their due for presenting advertisements in a way that promotes creativity.


18. Drive Angry
Again with the Grindhouse inspired kind of look. This just works on every level for me from the font size to the artificial messiness of it. It is unfortunate that this poster was not the one mainly used, but such is the case; even the few great posters exist to be largely unused.


17. The Devil’s Double
An in-your-face concept that goes for the jugular as far as poster concepts go. It goes to an extreme to make its point and for that, it deserves major props. The only thing working against it is the oddly misrepresentative tagline; a minute irritation. I still say Dominic Cooper looks more like Michael C. Hall here than Dominic Cooper. I can’t be the only one that sees this; can I?


16. The Muppets
Out of all the imaginative send-ups for the return of the Muppets, I chose a sparse Kermit-centric one, the only reason being that I have a soft spot for Kermit the Frog. Any poster with his head on it earns a spot on this list. Just look at that smile; oh how it melts my heart.


15. The Future
It is hard to articulate what it is about this poster that I find so memorable. The centered upside-down photo with the font contained within has an unexpectedly long-lasting effect on the mind. There’s just something about it….


14. I Saw the Devil

I was so happy to be able to get this on here as it really stuck with me throughout the year. This is a haunting use of space with the victimized yellow car illuminating the shadowy figure just enough to get a sense his weapon but not his identity. Those who have seen the film will recognize this as a reference to the opening sequence.


13. We Need to Talk About Kevin
There is suspicion and paranoia afoot as Swinton’s temperament towards her child is shown with this image. I love posters that have this purple-brown hue to them. Just look at I Saw the Devil’s poster for further proof. I don’t know how else to describe it so there you go; purple-brown hue. My description skills are clearly tops.


12. Martha Marcy May Marlene
A case of the fuzzies. I can’t help it; I love out-of-focus images on posters. This really captures Jody Lee Lipes’ cinematography on the film which is still my personal favorite of the year. The poster provides a hook; why is she running away? Who from? Does she make it? Coincidentally, it is almost a reverse shot of the Margaret poster which was the last I cut for this list. And both have ‘M’ names. Weird.


11. 13 Assassins
A marvelous illustration for yet another Magnet release. Busy but not too busy, and positively engaging.


10. Black Death
I flat-out love this bleak and foreboding poster for a film that unfairly went under the radar. For those counting, this is the fourth Magnet release on the list. That endlessly hopeless feel the Middle Ages have (at least for me) is truly represented here. I think I caught the Plague just looking at it.


9. Gainsbourg
It goes without saying that Serge Gainsbourg equals suave. A poster for this biopic needs to be able to capture the personality we all think of when we hear the French lady killer’s name. This version adds the perfect touch in capturing his demeanor through the cool blue and lusty red. Just looking at this makes me want to listen to “Histoire de Melody Nelson” for the billionth time. In fact….


8. Rubber
….yeah, I put the album on; I couldn’t resist.

This graphic brings you front and center to the leering eye of a tire; a directly anthropomorphized illustration. It advertises its unconventionality, wearing it on its sleeve, begging onlookers to dig deeper into the unknown.


7. Certified Copy
I almost went with the equally impressive color-splatter poster for the film featuring the same image. The grey in this one allows Juliette Bincohe’s startling paleness to stick out as well as the ruby red of her lips and earrings in this important moment from the film.

6. Le Havre
In addition to having an irresistible illustration that is at once sparse and full of intrigue. I want to know more about what I am seeing. Who are the players and how do they relate to each other?


5. The Skin I Live In
What strikes me most about this poster is that it looks like a mid-twentieth century middle school textbook. Would it actually be found in a classroom? Who knows? But it gives off that kind of educational vibe with an artistic twist that really drew me in.


4. Shame
The poster for Shame evokes with its ruffled bed sheets an immediate context of the film’s title. It is slightly confrontational with its placement of the title smack dab in the middle; this film is not tiptoeing around its subject matter. Whether you have seen the film or not, the poster says a lot about the kind of experience it provides.  Well, that quote does not exactly scream subtlety as an allusion to the film’s content. Either way; we get the idea.


3. Cold Weather
There is an exquisite use of patterning going on and I love the placement of the actors. Even the font kills. It’s just perfect.


2. Sleeping Beauty
Emily Browning’s porcelain exterior blends right in with the beautiful embroidered couch behind her. The poster’s color palette is gorgeous. Her supposed vulnerability is being subverted just like in the film (although the film is questionably successful at this). What we would expect to be a pleading look is actually a stern stare-down daring us to pass judgment on her.


1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
As soon as I saw this poster, I knew it would be likely impossible that another poster would take its place at the top of the pack. Designed by Chris Ware, best known for his visually complex graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, everything here is absolutely captivating. Ware also designed the equally impressive poster for 2007’s The Savages. The color scheme, the symmetry, the jellyfish-like middle, the water, trees; there is so much happening and it is all done through abstraction. So many aspects of the film are emphasized here, but you don’t have to know that to appreciate this masterful work on display.


Top 20 Film Posters of 2010


Here are the 20 film posters of 2010 that represent my personal favorites. The rule was only 1 poster per film. I do not claim these to be the best,  but the ones that caught my eye the most and that I personally find myself drawn to. Some of these films I’ve seen and some I haven’t. There is a shortage of great film posters these days so I hope you enjoy the ones I picked!

20. Best Worst Movie
All the green reminds me of Nickelodeon Slime; always a good thing. If you’ve seen Troll 2 or this documentary based on the making of it, it’s very fun to examine all the activity going on in it. The illustrations and the crowded composition make this a stand out.


19. Buried
This poster, which clearly evokes Saul Bass and his legendary poster art, is simple and engaging.

18. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
Fall is my favorite season, so the leaves and the use of color in both the bottom illustration and the title of the film make this a charming piece.


17. Date Night
This is a very smart poster. It uses simplicity and its star power to make its point with a spark of creativity, without relying on common tacky cliches. No tagline. No background. No credits. Just an image to spark your interest in the  Carell/Fey pairing and the film’s title. It’s refreshing and a tease.


16. Enter the Void
Gasper Noe’s latest work has, not surprisingly, split audiences. I haven’t seen the film, but I have seen the trailer. The reason this poster made it is, not only is it eye-popping, but it perfectly represents in poster form, what I saw in the trailer. The neon and the odd angle are representative of the feeling one gets from seeing the trailer.


15. I Am Love
The film’s main poster could have just as easily been used. The reason I chose this particular one is the way it links Tilda Swinton’s character with the film’s title. It’s use of color is fairly reminiscent to the way lime green its used in the film.The simple font in addition to me being a sucker for posters involving actors facing the viewer are also reasons for this poster’s placement.


14. Athlete
Besides not being a big fan of the text, everything else about this works for me. There was an entire series of posters for this documentary that all used stark black and white to create simple but effective image.


13. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Remember how I said I’m a sucker for posters with actors facing the viewer? Exhibit B. Like Date Night, it’s the simplicity I’m drawn to. It calls back strongly to the original Wall Street but manages to create a new image that feels familiar in a good way. I found myself unexpectedly coming back to this poster again and again while compiling this list.


12. Biutiful
Exhibit C! Again with the simple background. It’s wonderful and goes perfectly with the font and colors used. The bottom half of Bardem’s face is not in focus and its really subtle and effective.


11. Let Me In
The poster campaign for Let Me In was consistently excellent. This is one of two versions of this image. This is by far the superior of the two nearly identical posters. The use of red is astonishing. The placement of Chloe Grace Moretz is entrancing.

10. A Prophet
A more subtle use of Saul Bass inspired poster art. I’m getting to the point where I feel like I’m repeating myself! The color and the composition. Exciting reasons, I know.


9. Wild Grass
This impressionist inspired poster is classic and sophisticated. This poster puts a smile on my face.


8. The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond
This is a brilliant recreation of an 70’s or 80’s VHS B-horror film cover. It transcends homage and becomes exactly what it sets out to be.


7. Blue Valentine
I love the positioning of the actors here. All the elements come together beautifully. The font and the black on the top and bottom balance out the main image perfectly.


6. Art of the Steal
Do I even have to explain why this is so great? It uses the image to give plot information within the newspapers. The image itself is more than memorable.


5. For Colored Girls
An example of a film I have no interest in seeing that has mutiple posters that are beautiful and exploit the potential of poster art. There are a lot of great posters that go with this film. This one of Akina Noni Rose is a stunning watercolor like image using a wide array of colors.

4. Centurion
Recalling smut like Barbarian Queen and Sorceress as well as male action flicks like Conan the Barbarian, this is an homage that never hides that it has violence on its mind. I love everything about this.

3. Dogtooth
I was very close to choosing another poster from this film like I love equally. I can’t shake the minimalist image here though. It shows up at the beginning of the film. I’m not really huge on this level of abstract but this struck me the moment I saw it.

2. The Social Network
This is an abrasive poster. It has an iconic feeling to it already and the film has plenty of cold and blunt moments that parallel the confrontational poster. This is a brilliant marketing piece that works both artistically and as an advertisement. It will certainly stand the test of time. It’s probably the best poster from this year if I had to choose one.


1. Black Swan
I wasn’t all that impressed with either of the widely released posters for Aronofsky’s latest. A series of 4 posters that have little distribution were released. This is one of them. Any of them could have been in this place. Only using red, white and black, these posters are exactly the kind of creativity and artistic ambition that poster art needs. I only wish these were the posters that got the wide distribution they deserve.