December 30, 2012


While I stuck to my genre-loving guns in my Top 10 Films of 2012 and Top 10 Trailers of 2012, I’m happy to branch out a bit more with respect to the year’s ten best movie posters.  Here’s where I get pretentious.  Posters have the difficult task of attracting attention, holding it long enough to convey a message and getting that message across without the use of sound or motion (normally).  I prefer posters that are minimalist in nature and leave you with an iconic image that you’ll forever associate with the film.  Bonus points are given to those posters that offer layered meanings tied into the movie in question and which inspire curiosity in the picture.  What follows are the year’s ten best posters from a mix of big budget and lesser known movies.  Hit the jump to check them out.

10. The Dark Knight Rises


Was there a more iconic image in all of 2012 than that of the Batman logo in negative space, framed by Gotham’s skyscrapers in the midst of their destruction?  Probably not.  Unless it was our next contender.

9. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 

The Dark Knight Rises has the benefit of decades worth of familiarity with the Batman symbol, making it easily recognizable to millions.  The Hunger Games is a relatively new phenomenon, but one that is attempting to gain notoriety by pinning their hopes on the Mockingjay symbol (and sometimes an actual pin, as was seen as a recent Comic-Con).  Plus, who doesn’t love a good motion poster?

8. Sound of My Voice


This teaser poster is fantastic: it tells you everything you need to know to get into an exclusive cult, but next to nothing about the film itself.  Directed by Zal Batmanglij, Sound of My Voice was an extremely low budget film that managed to get is money’s worth in the marketing department at least.  If you’re as intrigued by this poster as I was, you can check out the first 12 minutes of the film here for more answers.

7. Django Unchained


While I didn’t need much convincing to go see the new Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained, I couldn’t help but love this minimalist poster for the flick.  The big bold chain links directed your attention down to the final broken segment, beneath which two mysterious gunslingers walk along the horizon.  Eye-catching, simple, memorable.  Great stuff.

6. Ted


2012 was disappointingly short on stand-out comedies, except for the Seth MacFarlane written/directed/starring Ted.  I’m normally not a fan of putting your stars front and center, when your hook is an animated, foul-mouthed teddy bear, I’m all in.  This poster was easily the funniest of the year, though special consideration does have to be given for Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain teaser

5. Killing Them Softly


While I wasn’t a huge fan of the Andrew Dominik film, Killing Them Softly did have a damn fine marketing team (must be something in the water at The Weinstein Company).  Not only does this poster keep it simple, it doesn’t blast you in the face with big name actors.  Instead, you see the American flag reflected in a pair of Aviator sunglasses and realize that this film trains it six-shooter directly on the American dream. There’s a lot to pull apart in this one simple poster and it makes the viewing experience all the more rewarding for doing so.

4. The Master


More from TWC!  Surprise, surprise!  While I didn’t get to see The Master this year, I did have to look up some explanations about this here poster in order to better understand it.  It features what appears to be a wine bottle submerged in water, bringing to mind the themes of alcholism and drowning…which I’m told both factor into the film in a number of ways.  Even if the thematic elements are lost on the ignorant, such as myself, the unique presentation and bold styling are enough to make this poster stand out.

3. Argo


For a film that has a plot as complicated as Argo (a team of CIA exfiltration specialists enlist Hollywood producers to develop a smokescreen for a fake big-budget production that will film in Iran in order to liberate a group of American diplomats during a populist uprising…), this poster is incredibly simple.  What I love most about it is the shredded and re-assembled motif, which plays into not only the fact that this true life story was eventually declassified, but also touches on a crucial plot point within the film itself.  Layers, people!

2. Zero Dark Thirty


Even simpler than Argo’s poster is this strike-through teaser for Zero Dark Thirty.  When word gets out that your film is about the military directive to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, there’s probably not a lot of marketing you have to do in America.  This incredibly clean poster decided to give you the necessary information and then black it out in strikethrough font.  Color me intrigued!  While the uninformative title is still easily read upon closer inspection, this early teaser poster managed to black out the release date almost entirely.  Probably not the best idea to disavow your movie’s opening date, which is why Zero Dark Thirty is #2 instead of…

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild


While it may not be the most popular movie of the year or even the most instantly recognizable, there is something about that blurry little child running through the grass toward the viewer with sparklers blazing that I just couldn’t get out of my head.  It wasn’t the peer reviews or generally positive reactions that convinced me to watch it.  It wasn’t this incredibly atmospheric and ambiguous trailer that did the trick either.  It was this one image that I simply could not get out of my mind until I watched the movie.  This image encapsulates everything that makes Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) captivating to watch.  Watch the film and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Star Trek Into Darkness – A fantastic poster that offers a (too) similar aesthetic to that of The Dark Knight Rises but provides a look at the setting of the scene’s destruction beyond.
  • Man of Steel – Nobody puts Supes in cuffs! Nobody! It’s a bit unsettling to see the Last Kryptonian sporting puny human restraints, which provides wonderful insight into the film.
  • A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III – Because everyone likes entendre, even if these posters tell you nothing else about the film.
  • Amour – Easily the most touching posters (and possibly film) of the year, these alternate POV posters for the central protagonists know just how to tug on the heart strings.
  • Lincoln – Because sometimes you just have to put your main actor/character front and center and let that poster speak for the film. It’s much safer to do this when the actor in question is Daniel Day Lewis, whose Abraham Lincoln transformation is as pretty as a penny.



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