Since it’s a bit early for a top ten of favorite films (still waiting for some possibly great films to be released), I thought I’d start the yearly retrospective with a list of favorite posters. I haven’t seen all the films on this list, so I don’t know if some of these are actually good. Also, that’s not really important. This is about film posters, so it’s about who created the coolest artwork to prompt their picture. Film posters are usually a big part of what gets me excited for a film. Since I try to stay away from trailers as much as possible, most of the times I prefer “static” marketing like stills and posters.
The way I see it, a good poster has to look really fucking cool. So cool you want it as your wallpaper or on your bedroom wall. It has to capture the film’s essence, the color palette, a detail, a specific font used in the opening titles, a key visual, an actor etc. It has to be original enough to set the film apart from everything else that’s already out there. At the same time it should be simple enough to be understood by everyone, recognizable from a distance, in other words: Immediate. Or not, I mean sometimes a bit of mystery goes a long way, especially if you’re going the viral route.
Of course it all depends on what film you’re trying to sell. The “genre” has to be recognizable. The people you’re targeting should feel like you’re addressing them specifically. So of course a poster for a horror film usually uses a darker color scheme, a prestigious artsy film should feature information about what prizes the film has won at various festivals. The title should be easy to read (no weird fonts or bad contrast). The release date is also somewhat important (especially for blockbusters). Branding is fundamental: Is the film part of a franchise? Use a specific logo to make it recognizable. A famous director and/or stars should also be exploited to sell the films.
Now that my mini marketing lesson’s over let’s take a look at the ten posters that impressed me most this past year. I’ll try to briefly mention why I think they work particularly well. Of course it’s very subjective, so maybe a poster I think is genius gets ignored by a mainstream film-goer. The fact that I am a marketing student and love film is not irrelevant here, because I tend to pay more attention to film posters than the average citizen. Also, I there’s a very specific type of films I’m interested in and I while in theory I try to give every film the benefit of the doubt, I’ll never be excited for say the next Tyler Perry film, no matter how stylish his newest Medea poster may be.
So without further ado, here are my ten favorite film posters of 2013 (in alphabetical order).
10. Blackfish (directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
A black & white poster, with a Sundance logo and a simple clean font. I haven’t seen Blackfish yet, but the vibe I’m getting here is that it’s a must see. It’s recommended by both Variety and The Hollywood reporter. It’s very stylish and classy looking, so I automatically assume that the film itself will have great cinematography (don’t know if that’s the case). Plus I just love how black this poster is. Just perfect.
9. Blue is the Warmest Color (directed by Abdellatif Kechiche)
A couple of things get me very excited about this poster. 1st the Palm d’Or winner logo 2nd two beautiful ladies almost kissing, so you know it’s going to be a romantic flick (hopefully, haven’t seen it yet) and 3rd the faded colors that make the blue stick out. Blue is my favorite color and even though, that’s not the original title I love this title more than the original French one (sorry guys). In this case I don’t even need the two quotes praising the film, the Cannes logo is more than enough. Plus it’s NC-17? So in!
8. Fast & Furious 6 (directed by Justin Lin)
“Oh great, you just threw this one in there because of Paul Walker”. No, I certainly did not. I love this poster, because again, blue and white are the prominent colors, it’s super simple and I love the tagline (All roads lead to this). It’s almost a minimalist poster, but really if you’re familiar with the franchise all you need to know is that there’s a new flick coming out. I also like that they wrote “memorial day” instead of a number date, it’s way classier. The hero looking away into the distance was a big trend this past year, but I think this one does it best, because Walker is still somewhat in the front of the picture and thus closer to us, the audience.
7. The Great Beauty (directed by Paolo Sorrentino)
Being Italian any film in my native language will get my attention based on that alone. Add a Cannes logo, a very artsy and luxurious tone and I’m sold. This poster easily distinguishes itself thanks to its use of the color yellow, a very aggressive yellow. There’s also an interesting use of lights and shadows, which again makes me presume that the film will look gorgeous. Having seen it I can absolutely confirm, it’s one of the most beautiful looking films of the year, spectacular cinematography.
6. Man of Steel (directed by Zack Snyder)
I could have picked any Man of Steel poster really, they’re all pretty amazing. Definitely my favorite poster campaign for a blockbuster this year. Great use of photoshop, thinking a bit outside of the box (not too much, but still enough to be different) and all-round great designs. The marketing really made an effort to make the film feel like Superman was going in the direction of Batman, The Dark Knight (the same font was used and some of the Superman logo posters were very similar to those for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movies). The lens flare present in all posters was a nice touch and they stayed away from the generic “a bunch of actors on a poster” posters, with horrible photoshop (looking at you Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World posters).
5. Nymphomaniac (directed by Lars von Trier)
Again, I could have picked any Nymphomaniac poster: They’re all great. I particularly love this first one though. I don’t really think I have to explain it. That’s the beauty of it. It’s as if Lars was saying: Yep, the film’s called Nymphomaniac, it’s exactly about what you think it’s about. It’s not big news, von Trier is known to be a marketing genius when it comes to prompting his films or starting controversies. I’ve heard he even came up with the idea for the tagline (Forget about love) and the stylized Nymph( )maniac title. Love it.
4. Room 237 (directed by Rodney Ascher)
While I wasn’t overly impressed with this documentary (or collection of random conspiracy theories) on Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) the poster for the film is truly beautiful. It’s basically a cartoon version of one of the films’ most iconic shots, with some blood, a Sundance logo and a giant title. It looks very 70s. Very stylish, definitely the main reason why I checked this film out, aside from the raving reviews of course and my love for Kubrick’s horror masterpiece.
3. Spring Breakers (directed by Harmony Korine)
The people at A24 Films certainly know how to promote their movies. There were a variety of great posters for Spring Breakers. Okay, most of the American ones seemed pretty lazy, but the French ones were pretty great. The poster featured here is my favorite of the American batch. I love it because of the bright neon colors (which are prominently featured in the actual film) and because everything is so symmetrical and well-ordered (another soft spot of mine, as a perfectionist). I also love the juxtaposition of girly accessories and violent items, which matches the films’ themes of the loss of innocence. Seemingly sweet and yet… dageruss!
2. Warm Bodies (directed by Jonathan Levine)
Black, red and white is always a great combination, especially when it comes to horror. As much as I hate the word, this poster looks very emo. It works though. The giant tagline (Cold bodies warm heart) and white heart hint at the romantic aspect of the story, while Nicholas Hoult in zombie makeup serves as a reminder that it’s also kind of a horror flick. Other poster also emphasize the comedic aspects with clever puns and word plays. I also like that the poster looks like it was folded. The white contour is another nice touch. Both title are clearly visible at the bottom, as it should be.
1. You’re Next (directed by Adam Wingard)
Black & white. I’m easy to please. I love the viral posters for indie horror/comedy You’re Next. Every letter of the film’s title got a poster and then there were some more “traditional” posters as well (love those too). What’s so great about this poster is that it is more of a piece of art than an actual piece of marketing. You have to know that it’s a movie poster (if it’s not hanging around at your local theater it could be an ad for any art event) and then you have to know what film it’s for. You don’t really see the image on the poster clearly, because it’s being reflected in a broken mirror. It’s pretty awesome!
That was the last poster. We started with a black & white one and ended with one. Like we’ve seen: A good poster doesn’t necessarily mean good film or box office success. It also works the other way around. In case you didn’t notice there’s no trace of The Bling Ring poster here. While I loved the film, I wasn’t a fan of their poster campaign. Interestingly enough though, if I don’t like a poster, but then love the film, the poster usually becomes more tolerable (also the case for Blue Jasmine and Before Midnight). However if I was really excited for a film based on the poster, but then end up being disappointed by the film I tend to reevaluate the artwork as well (happened to me with Stoker and Only God Forgives, for example).
I hope I didn’t miss any big ones. Since it is all very subjective I’d love to hear everyone else’s opinion. Is your favorite on this list? Which are some of the posters that got you very excited for a specific film (that wasn’t necessarily on your radar before)? And are film posters relevant at all in making you want to seek out a particular movie?