Main sources: Film on Paper, Terry-posters, Chisholm-Larsson Gallery, Emovieposter, Wrong Side of the Art
It’s that time again! The content of my year-specific posts deem that they must come after I’ve watched everything planned for any given year. But two of the traditional Top Ten By Year posts can go up any time: Poster Highlights, and the Poll. I’ve taken to putting up the Poster Highlights when I’m a fourth of the way done with my watchlist, while the Poll goes into effect at the halfway mark. And guess what? I’m 25% done with 1982!
It is so very hard to track down the full range of posters from any given year. There are so many different sites, none of them all-encompassing. Then there’s tracking down the artists. Some of these sites have done a great job doing what they can and crediting artists when possible. Every credit given to an artist in this post comes from having seen the name attributed from one of the above sites. About half of these don’t have credited artists (at least that I was able to find).
So these are my favorite posters for 1982 films. I kept it limited to posters made from the time of release. In the case of the Eastern European posters, many of these were made in the mid -to-late 80’s, and I obviously kept them. But in general I stay away from recently made posters for older films, at least for these posts, because I like to concentrate on poster art from the era itself, seeing how films were being advertised in their day, etc.
So many stand-out posters that aren’t represented, because this is simply a collection of my favorites.
(Disclaimer: the accents are missing from credited names, as it wasn’t possible to copy and paste names into the captions)
I’ll go through these based on the groupings I came up with. The first is posters with the COLORS OF THE RAINBOW, a trend that largely crops up when it comes to sci-fi/fantasy fare.
Speaking of Poltergeist, the now-iconic image of Heather O’Rourke in front of the TV set was very smartly the at its marketing center.
US poster for Poltergeist. Designer unknown
Turkish poster for Poltergeist. Artist unknown
PURPLES AND PINKS AND GENRE, OH MY!
I absolutely love the purple/pink color schemes I found on so many posters for 1982 films. This seems to be a trend in movie posters of the 1980’s. The purple/pink color scheme is applied across many genres, particularly horror.
US poster for Cat People. Artist unknown
US poster for Cat People. Artist unknown
Here are a trio of posters from the film Android. Two of them incorporate the purple/pink scheme. The other one is just rad.
This poster for The Empire Strikes Backwas made specifically for the 1982 re-release so I’m counting it:
Last but not least, this 48 Hrs. poster segues nicely into my next grouping:
THE HYPER-DETAILED COMIC-INSPIRED ILLUSTRATION
This would phase out later in the 1980’s, replaced by the photogenic faces populating the movie star resurgence, but I suspect that the combination of high-fantasy, sci-fi, chaotic comedies, and teen flicks (not to mention the muscle-bound hero with a scantily clad woman at his side trope) from the era kept this going a bit longer.
Next up are posters that incorporate photography or stills in some way, either on their own or with other illustrative poster design techniques.
NUDIES, NUDIES, NUDIES. NOTHIN’ BUT NUDIES
Turns out that posters for nudies are some of the greatest things in existence.
These next two posters were done by Tom Tierney. He’s the man credited with making the paper doll famous! Later in life it seems that he made a good amount of posters for X-rated fare. His work makes up some of my favorite posters ever. The Wanda Whips Wall Street poster is my other favorite in this post, and it’s something I’m determined to own and have on my wall as a proper adult.
As is well known, the Czech and the Polish have a near monopoly on incredible, bizarre, head-turning poster art. Here are some of my favorites.
Previous Movie Poster Highlights posts: 1925, 1978
It’s that time again! I’m not sure there’s any Top Ten By Year related post I look forward to more than Movie Poster Highlights. It gives me a chance to really cull through works of all kinds, to try my best to track down artists, and to share my findings.
First, I’m going to put the spotlight on a couple of artists who have works represented. ERIC ROHMAN turned up in my 1925 post with a few posters. I really love his use of frames within frames, and the juxtaposition of harsh lines with soft sketches.
From PosterGuide: “Eric Rohman was a Swedish illustrator and film actor. He began designing posters around 1915-16, while based in Copenhagen. Around 1920, he had his own studio with several employees. By the 1940s, he believed that he had produced approximately 7000 movie posters.”
The only female Dutch poster designer of the 1920’s, Rudeman’s work through the 20’s the 30’s is incredible. Her posters utilize reds, oranges, and yellows, and are full of sweeping shadows. Here is her poster for Morocco.
Sweden has by far the highest number of posters here. So here are a bunch. I did the best I could with tracking down artist info. It’s largely impossible. The only info I could find was ‘J. Olsens’ at the bottom of some, which I was hoping was an artist stamp, but seems to be a printing company.
Yellow is a very popular color, especially in some of these Swedish posters:
Here’s are a pair of profiles from Gosta Aberg:
It’s only fitting that the greatest movie ever has the greatest posters. Ladies and gents,Madam Satan!
Multiple posters from one film: Here’sThe Blue Angel.
Here are two posters by Roger Vacher for Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room).
These next two posters remind me of each other. Maybe it’s the colors or the stare of the faces. The poster on the left, for Captain of the Guard, is INSANE.
A pair of William Powell posters.
And here are the rest. Hope you enjoy!
If I had to pick a favorite from 1930 it would be Joseph Koutachy’s French poster forMadam Satan. It helps that the film has special significance for me, but this stands out regardless. It’s like an ad for Catwoman decades before the fact. There isn’t another poster from 1930 like it:
I’m adding a new event to the Top Ten By Year celebrations; a round-up of some of my favorite film posters from whichever year I’m focusing on.
I tried as best as I could to find artists and/or designers to credit for their work. I’ve noted where I fell short, and if you click on most of the posters, it will lead you to the site of origin.
First up: A couple of posters from Derek Jarman’s punk collage Jubilee, both focusing on Amyl Nitrate’s (Jordan) iconic “Rule Britannia” garb and snarl:
Next up, two posters from the sleek and striped down neo-noir The Driver. What I love about the poster on the top is the street night color scheme, the stylized strokes used for hair, and the profile of Queen Adjani/how she and her hat are placed on top of the men. As for the Thai poster on the right, it’s just undeniably fun; the bright colors, the poker chips around Queen Adjani, Ryan O’Neal’s terrifying big blues and the policeman who seems to be waving hello to us in the upper right corner.
These next two feature bird figures of some kind and are both from Czech artist and poster designer Marek Ploza-Dolinski. Czech animator Karel Zeman’s Krabat (The Sorceror’s Apprentice) (top) features crows throughout, while The Silent Partner (bottom) does not, but how awesome is it seeing Elliot Gould rendered as a smug horned and winged creature? There’s also tribute paid to his pet goldfish who is unceremoniously murdered by Christopher Plummer in the film.
Richard Amsel was one of the most distinguished American poster designers of all-time and managed a prolific and instantly recognizable body of work before his early death in 1985. His exquisitely detailed and bustling posters always managed to put focus, no matter how busy elsewhere, on the faces of stars, and that is certainly evident in his depiction of the all-star cast of Death on the Nile.
There are a ton of fantastic posters for Billy Wilder’s late career oddity Fedora. Here are my two favorites.
Next are two posters I love for films I love about girls I love. Got all that? The top is a French poster for I Wanna Hold Your Hand, here called Crazy Day. You can’t tell by the poster that it has anything to do with The Beatles, but I love the Nancy Drew quality of the thing. The bottom is a Spanish poster for Girlfriends, which I can’t find a bigger version of, but I’m drawn to the triangular use of space and the mustard yellow color. I’m also amused by the fact that though the film is called Girlfriends, this particular poster seems to feature 3 Melanie Mayron’s.
Two Polish posters, one from the Truffaut film The Green Room (La chambre verte) and the other from Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven
Here are two posters that live and die on partially shielded photographs of enigmatic unknowable women framed by black with the film titles displayed in similar shades of pinkish red. Queen Huppert’s Violette Noziere looks straight at us, while Geraldine Chaplin gives us sunglasses, a cigarette and her profile, the film’s title telling us to remember her name…or else.
Finally, my two favorite posters from 1978. On the top is the precise and doomed purple radiance of Petrus Wandrey for the Rainer Werner Fassbinder film Despair. On the bottom is Josef Vylet’al’s hauntingly direct yet endlessly mysterious work for the Czech fairy tale film Panna a Netvor (Beauty and the Beast or Virgin and the Monster)
I started my What I’ll Remember posts in 2012 and have since expanded to include one for each year in my Top Ten By Year project. The idea is that while everyone simply posts a Top Ten to cap off the past 12 months, I want to remember and pay tribute to the little things, those indelible moments within (and outside of) the myriad of films any given year has to offer. Because no matter what anyone else says, every year is a great year for film; you just need to know where to look. So without further ado, below are some of the meaningful smatterings and takeaways from 2014 films I hope to take with me moving forward:
I forgot to post my favorite posters of the year in my Top Fives post, so this post will be interspersed with the poster designs that stuck out the most to me along with credit to the designers/illustrators.
Some Blind Spots:Love is Strange, Selma, Goodbye to Language, Dear White People, Norte the End of History, Closed Curtain, The Strange Little Cat, Mr. Turner, The Rover, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Beyond the Lights, Wild, Still Alice, Why Don’t You Play in Hell, Leviathan, A Most Violent Year, Laggies, Top Five, Begin Again, etc)
2014 will always be first the foremostThe Year We Lost Philip
2014 will always be, second, the year I got to see and hear Joanna Newsom on the silver screen (Inherent Vice)
Under the Skin, my favorite film so far this decade. This whole list could just be specifics from this, so I’m just giving it a uniform shoutout. Changes the way you see the world around you, and yourself. Challenges what narrative filmmaking is/can be capable of.
A banner year (comparatively of course) for female directors (Selma, Unbroken, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, CitizenFour, Obvious Child, Honeymoon, It Felt Like Love, Night Moves, Beyond the Lights, Belle, Palo Alto, Olive Kitteridge, The Babadook, Hellion, 20,000 Days on Earth, Thou Was Mild and Lovely, See No Evil 2, Abuse of Weakness, Endless Love, Step Up All In, Laggies, Fed Up, Last Days in Vietnam, Awake, Fort Bliss, etc)
Gutsy narrative decisions in mainstream children’s fare (Maleficent, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The LEGO Movie)
Jim Jarmusch, always distinguishing and foregrounding his own experience/sense of location, this time with Detroit and Tangier (Only Lovers Left Alive)
Angelina Jolie and (and her subtly digitally enhanced beauty) in Maleficent, showing us the potential and gravitas of true star power. Film itself aside, she did not get enough credit for her work here
Satirizing and/or communicating through media (Gone Girl, Nightcrawler, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1)
Meta ruminations on the relevance of aging actorsplaying versions of themselves (The Congress, Birdman)
“Hate the sport! Hate the sport! Hate hate hate hate hate the sport!” (We Are the Best!)
Tyler Perry throwing gummy bears at Ben Affleck’s head (Gone Girl)
Just leave the music in your movies at the door and keep the rest, thanks (Into the Woods, Interstellar)
Michael Keaton isn’t playing himself inBirdman but Edward Norton certainly is
Oh how dearly I’d missed the Neptune crowd (Veronica Mars)
“Boy with Apple” and how long it takes Dmitry to realize its missing (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
The joys of watching actors actually act together in the same high-wire space (Birdman)
Realizing I’m a Gale/Liam Hemsworth apologist (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1)
Bigfoot and the chocolate banana (Inherent Vice)
Movies that provoked controversy and lively if exhaustive and often reductive discussions:The Wind Rises, Gone Girl, Boyhood
Edge of Tomorrow’snarrative switcharoo, slyly putting Tom Cruise ahead of the audience halfway through. Now we’re playing catch-up. We’re Emily Blunt.
Lots of dog killings this year you guys (John Wick, The Babadook, Cheap Thrills, Cavalry, Joe)
ThinkingThe Wind Riseswas the most beautiful Studio Ghibli film I had seen…and then seeingTheTale of the Princess Kaguya
Nicolas Cage’s delivery of “Kristy, call the cops before someone gets kills. Would you do that for me honey?”, quite literally the only thing aboutJoeI liked
The second time I’ve seen trichotillomania depicted in a film (Starry Eyes)
Spaceship? Spaceship! SPACESHIP! SPACESHIP!!!” (The LEGO Movie)
Holy shit, Emma Roberts can actually act (Palo Alto)
Acting Winners of 2014: Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin, Lucy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Runners Up: Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Into the Woods), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, Beyond the Lights), Marion Cotillard (The Immigrant, Two Days, One Night), Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men” S7.1, The One I Love, Listen Up Philip)
That kiss. My God, that kiss. (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Nina Hoss, A Most Wanted Man)
“Nothing in my hands, nothing in my hands” (The Babadook)
Jenny Agutter getting to kick so much ass in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Doppelgangers! (The Double, Enemy, The One I Love, Coherence, Muppets Most Wanted)
Bible Epics! (Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Sheila Vand, serving up vampiric Winona Ryder and Jane Adams as The Girl (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night)
The jarring experience of seeing dubbed versions ofThe Wind RisesandThe Tale of the Princess Kaguya in theaters even though they are the most explicitly Japanese/engaged with Japanese history and culture films Studio Ghibli have ever released
Now that’s what horror can do. That’s why horror is the best (The Babadook)
Why oh why is Disney so committed to making everything look so visually ugly and/or flat? The mystery continues (Maleficent, Into the Woods)
The year that Scarlett Johannsson showed new levels of control, naturalism, and range in her craft. I’m convinced Broadway had something to do with it (Under the Skin, Lucy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Angelina Jolie making sure we feel the central violation/rape metaphor inMaleficent
Beginning of the end/end of an era melancholy that creeps up on you inThe Grand Budapest Hotel and Inherent Vice
Whiplashthrowing me for a loop by not being the competitive jazz drumming film I’d assumed, but a blistering sadomasochistic portrait of mutual destruction in the efforts to attain a futile level of greatness
Marion Cotillard mastering the acute body language of depression (Two Days, One Night)
Realizing I need to listen to all the James Brown music (Get on Up)
Who would have thought a member of the Naked Brothers Band could unnerve me? (Palo Alto)
Red streaks in the sky; the descent (Godzilla)
Jake Gyllenhaal looking like Gumby inNightcrawler, starring the whites of his eyes
“Play with my balls” (Birdman)
One last Philip Seymour Hoffman/Julianne Moore reunion for the road (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1)
Matt Damon making surprise appearances (Interstellar, The Zero Theorem)
Edge of Tomorrowfor being the biggest surprise of 2014, an outlier in its comparatively original/non-franchise status
Lucy calls her mother (Lucy)
Rosamund Pike in her skivvies, crawling across the floor like some sort of arachnid inGone Girl
The more I think about the bizarre sound mixing inInterstellar, the more I’m okay with it. If I can’t hear crucial not-so-great dialogue in favor of Hans Zimmer’s score, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing?
The Tom Hooper school of framing; sometimes magical, often off-putting (Ida)
A death scene to end all death scenes (Gone Girl)
Michael C. Hall’s character taking an eventual backseat in his own film (Cold in July)
The pastel streaks on human faces in The Boxtrolls’s and the film’sadmirable commitment to filthiness
Being basically the only person who lovesVampire Academy. You’ll all come around eventually
Living in an age of blockbuster spectacles in which the industry has no idea how to instill wonder…except, all its other misgivings aside,Godzilla
Most successful use of exposition:Oculus
Joaquin Phoenix going full-Brando at the end ofThe Immigrant
Overreaching doppelganger atmospheres (piss-yellow and wiry Toronto inEnemy, admirable but tiresome Gilliam copyThe Double)
A question for the ages; who is scarier – Ben Mendelsohn or J.K Simmons? (Answer? You’re both wrong, it’s Peter Mullan) (Starred Up, Whiplash)
Tom Hardy’s velvety voice inLocke
It’s so nice to see you again!! Sheila Kelley (The Guest), Nicholas Brendan (Coherence), Sherilyn Fenn (Raze), Sheryl Lee (White Bird in a Blizzard), Taylor Nichols (Godzilla)
“Be a shoe” (Snowpiercer)
Having a new favorite Wes Anderson character in Gustave (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Tilda Swinton in lots of makeup (Snowpiercer, The Zero Theorem, The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Reunions! Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line/Inherent Vice), Zoe Bell and Tracie Thoms (Death Proof/Raze), Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung (The Host/Snowpiercer), the cast ofVeronica Mars. I know there are others, but I’m blanking
That long take of Michel (Christophe Paou) coming out of the water as a killerthen he begins to put on his sneakers and puts himself back together as someone we, and Franck, recognize (Stranger by the Lake)
Reminder that Katee Sackhoff should be in everything (Oculus)
Inspired casting goes a long way folks (Gone Girl, Snowpiercer, Inherent Vice)
6 months later and I’m still wishing that Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” had been worked intoDawn of the Planet of the Apessomehow
Crying a lot during movies I’m lukewarm to because I’m a sap (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar)
And then sobbing at the end ofThe Wind Rises, knowing I had now seen all the Miyazaki there was to see
The first shot of Karen Gillan and her swinging ponytail inOculus
WatchingStarred Upand having it gradually transform into the most invested narrative experience I had in 2014
Watching Tom Cruise play around with his persona and die over and over again (Edge of Tomorrow)
Realizing how attracted I am to ‘a mysterious man/woman enters the lives of etc.’ narratives (Borgman, The Guest)
Poor Ian (Only Lovers Left Alive)
Lyle Vincent’s black-and-white digital cinematography in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
The remarkable achievement of Space inInterstellar
The Robert DeNiro party (Neighbors)
Another age-old question: does Lucky McKee have anotherMayin him? My hopes sink ever further (All Cheerleaders Die)
Coherenceshowing you can make an exceptional genre film with zero budget (and I mean zero budget)
Elisabeth Moss’s Ashley when Philip leaves her apartment, the most striking acting moment of 2014 (Listen Up Philip
Vin Diesel doing good by humankind for basically resurrecting his role inThe Iron Giant (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Marion Cotillard’s coral pink tank inTwo Days, One Night
Seeing20,000 Days on Earth in NYC with Nick Cave Q&A and solo piano performance, directors Q&A
More stuntmen who inherently understand the mechanics of action directing films please (John Wick)
SeeingThere Will be Bloodon a massive screen with live orchestral accompaniment and Jonny Greenwood was a year highlight for sure and my favorite theatrical experience of 2014
Films Seen in Theaters: 32 2014 Films Seen: 100
2014 Double Features I Had: Birdman/John Wick Only Lovers Left Alive/A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
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.
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 veryLast Tango in Paris, very effortlessly retro, very pink and just all-around sickening.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
13. Paul Williams Still Alive
Stop Making Sense font; check. The top of Paul Williams head; check. Number 13 spot; check.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
….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.
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.
I’m sure someone else could find 10 other film posters just as bad as these. Fact of the matter is, poster art is not what it used to be. Mostly, it is yet another way for the industry to put their films in a predictable and precise box that tells the viewer exactly what to expect if they choose to go see their film. Casual moviegoers want to know what they are going into and the poster art woefully reflects the main goal of these advertisements instead of piquing interest. Here are the posters that were the worst of the many offenders to choose from.
10. The Truth
Haven’t we had enough posters with fragmented composition populated with awkward photos of actors? John Heard and Daniel Baldwin look like they don’t even know where they are. Then we have the tagline The Truth..is always complicated. Rough stuff.
9. Sex and the City 2
I have never been a “Sex and the City” fan. It has always been an obnoxious representation of the modern woman even if it might have been somewhat progressive for TV at the time. The campaign for the likely unnecessary sequel was through and through atrocious. Believe me, there were other posters from this film worthy of the number 9 spot. This teaser took the cake with its terrible tagline “There are other ways to score” and that Carrie’s shoe is the only thing on this poster that has anything to do with the film. This has nothing to do with soccer!!
8. The King’s Speech
Yes, there are probably other posters that could have been here. However, for a film that is one of the FRONTRUNNERS for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, there is no excuse for this to not only be dull as dirt, but horribly executed with unconvincing photoshop work. Even director Tom Hooper is ashamed!
7. Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
The main reason this was picked over similarly painful animal movie posters like Marmaduke and Yogi Bear is because the dog and cat pictured on this poster freak me out. What is with those faces?!
6. I Spit on Your Grave
A lazy rehash of the original poster; just as vulgar and twice as dull. As if we need the knife placed near her ass to look at it. It also starts its offensive as the opening day being the “Day of the Woman”. Keep going with that desperate attempt at faux feminist empowerment bullshit that nobody buys in relation to this schlock.
5. Grown Ups
This is such a fake poster; where to begin? Everything is so poorly cropped and photoshopped. Everyone has weird faces. The sky in the background as well as the top of the slide look amateurish at best.
4. Accidents Happen
I see what this was going for. It could have been serviceable. What we have though, is a confused and awkwardly ineffective poster. Look at Geena Davis’ face. Does that make you want to watch Accidents Happen? I didn’t think so.
3. Shrek Forever After 3D
This represents the type of pop culture humor of Shrek at its worst. Taking a sexist and outdated phrase, changing one letter and pretending that this children’s franchise is on top of what’s hip. Yeah Shrek; you’ve still got it.
I almost admire this poster; however did they manage to cram everything I dislike about these two actors into one picture as well as reinforcing age old stereotypes that simply aren’t funny nor relevant? Katherine Heigl doesn’t like holding a gun; I’m guessing it’s because she’s a girl and not because she has any actual moral conviction. Look! She can barely touch it! Then there’s Kutcher sporting his “Come on!” face most commonly seen on “Punk’D” or..anything else he has ever been involved in.
1. Saw 3D
I would love if someone could explain what I’m looking at. For the record, I’ve always enjoyed the Saw poster campaigns. What is happening here? Machines are building a huge Jigsaw structure? Are there no people? Was there an apocalypse on Saw VI? Smokestacks? What am I looking at? What’s the concept? Big Jigsaw structure representing the release of the film being a big event? I cannot wrap my head around the logic going into this ad.