Wednesday, January 23, 2013


My year-in-review series marches on with another Top Ten list: the best movie posters of 2012. This includes any posters that came out during the year, though most are obviously advertising 2012 films. This was surprisingly difficult to narrow down. Seriously, so hard. I easily found 30+ that I thought were exceptional, so what follows are the most exceptional. I also strived to sidestep any biases towards a given film (i.e. just because I love "Movie A" doesn't necessarily mean I should pick its poster OR just because I don't love "Movie B" doesn't necessarily mean I should not pick its poster) and just focused on the poster itself. In fact, there are a few of these films that I have not even seen yet, all the better postion for me to judge their posters from. (Note: I am only considering official posters made by the film's marketing team. There are so many beautiful and disturbing fan-made posters - each a work of art - that it would make my feat of choosing just ten among them all the more difficult. Maybe I can honor some of those in a post of their own sometime.)

Before I get into the list. I noticed a trend of very minimalist posters this year. Some of my choices are extravagant, but over half follow the mantra that "less is more." I feel such is key to advertising with obvious exceptions, which is ultimately what movie posters attempt to do. Granted, I piad more attention to movie posters in 2012 than I have in any previous year so maybe this is no trend, but I have a hunch that it is. Such techniques include: color-blocking (with only a few choice), letting the background be solid and empty and in many cases relying on an image or two over words (though in my #1 choice it is oddly the adverse). In this iPhone era we are finding our products slimed down to essential icons - the same is happening in filmdom. Here are my picks for the ten best movie posters of 2012:


10. Hitchcock

"Good evening." It's an unforgettable line if you've ever heard the Master of Suspense say it while introducing another short film in his "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" series. Anthony Hopkins plays the title role and while he doesn't exactly look the part (especially in the face) it's a figure and presence film goers know so well. If they had just turned his sideways to make the portrait a profile, it would have been perfection. Too bad the movie was nothing close to perfect.


9. Moonrise Kingdom

The poster screams Wes Anderson. The fancy gold print is as if we've received a formal invitation to a theater party, it lists the credits, title and the impressive ensemble cast onboard. All set atop an exquisite soft painting of nature and the two young and emotionally removed souls in the thick of it.


8. The Cabin in the Woods

I ended up going with this sepia-toned M.C. Esher-esque vision inside the cabin over the more widely used/seen Rubik's cube version of said cabin's exterior. There is just so much to look at here that it forces the viewer to pause and just take it all in. It's as exciting a brochure into a film's key location as I've ever seen.


7. Savages

Seven scenes from the film for each letter of the title, complete with bright colors and clear faces. It's eye-popping art with promises of a mature ride (sex and violence sell, hints at them can be even better). Also, the way the "AVA" stacks is wonderfully appealing to me.


6. Killing Them Softly

There were three posters for this film in the running (all rather minimalist aesthetically), but I ended up going with the sunglasses and revolver. An American flag is reflected in the lenses so that we know what he is aiming at. The film is a heavy-handed commentary about the economic straits we're in right now and tells a parable of crooks and hit-men to illustrate it. The poster is as artful and blunt as the film it's advertising.


5. Django Unchained

Another poster that deals with only a few colors and those make all the difference here. Black and white for the obvious dichotomy of slaves and their owners - but notice how Dr. King Shultz's figure is also black because he is helping Django. It's all drowned out by a bright but gritty red lest we forget this film is going to be a complete bloodbath.


4. V/H/S

Ah, the horror anthology about a group of lowlifes that break into a house to retrieve a specific VHS tape and find there are a plethora to choose from. This core concept is exaggerated and illustrated into the haunting and challenging poster.


3. Ted

Guys, guys, it's a teddy bear using a urinal! Nuff said. (Oh, he's also holding a bottle of beer...) I have yet to see the film, but I find its poster hilarious. The image is one you will not soon forget (even if you want to).


2. Wreck-It Ralph

The blown-up close-up of Ralph's face in all its 8-bit glory is enough to make any gamer (the film's target audience really) to stop dead in their tracks, as I did the first time I saw it. The only other thing you need to know is the release date... Simple. Radical.


1. Zero Dark Thirty

The blacking out of text was a memorable part of the teaser trailer for "Zero Dark Thirty," a visual motif to symbolize what the CIA don't want us to know about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. They used the same effect for the poster, a bold move because many will not know the name or release of it with a passing glance. It's a poster so facile for a story that was anything but.


Too many honorable mentions to list (though I will quickly mention "The Master," "Stoker," "The American Scream," "Casa de Mi Padre," "Looper," "Les Misérables" anyway). Think I missed a true visionary poster? What do you think of these choices? What movie posters stood out the most to you over the last year? As always, I would love to hear what you think. Speak your mind in the comments below.

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