We toil, we slave, we burn the midnight oil in several different time zones to bring you meaty features (like all our Best of 2014 coverage), instant news reports, big-name interviews, and a multitude of reviews and what thanks do we get? The average ‘Hunger Games’ character poster will get many times the clicks of our labors of love and craft. But before you get out your tiny violins, this year, we’ve decided if we can’t beat the pressures of corporate promotional activity, we’re damn well gonna rank them.
Movies posters can be among the crassest, most blatant, down-and-dirtiest marketing tools available. We die a little inside each time there’s a new hullabaloo over the latest comic book movie teaser which is—inevitably—the title of the movie against a black background looking as though it’s been embossed in brushed steel and/or someone inadvertently firing out a fart explosion. (I mean, we run it, of course, because we’re enormous hypocrites, but we still die a little.)
However, there are those posters that light the way to a brighter future, in which talented artists and designers, inspired by films we have at that point not yet seen, find inspiration to spin something creative in its own right, and develop covetable, framable, exotic, or intriguing imagery. In fact sometimes, the posters can surpass the films they promote.
So we thought it was time we stop carping from the sidelines about the bad stuff and start recognizing and promoting the good stuff. Here then, for the first time ever, is The Playlist’s 20 Favorite Movie Posters Of The Year. Quick note: we’ve tried to be strict in keeping it to posters that were released in 2014, irrespective of the release date of the film, and wherever we can find it, we’ve credited the artist or design house responsible. If you know the designers of any that we couldn’t find, please let us know in the comments.
20. “The Wonders”
The film won’t hit U.S. theaters until next year, but “The Wonders,” Alice Rohrwacher’s German-Italian coming-of-age tale, was one of the biggest crowd-pleasers at Cannes, and its poster was one of the more unforgettable images on the Croisette this year. A simple illustration of a young woman with bees coming out of her mouth (from Italian house Internozero Comunicazione), it evokes both storybooks and surrealist art in a way that initially seems quite different from the film itself, but is actually a perfect fit. As far as we can tell, the film hasn’t yet been picked up for U.S. release, but don’t be surprised to see this covering arthouse walls in 2015.
19. “As Above So Below”
It might be have been yet another found-footage horror picture (albeit one more effective than most), but late-summer-dregs genre quickie “As Above, So Below” had a few things in its favor: a sparky lead performance from Perdita Weeks, a nifty title, and most of all, an ace one-sheet. Utilizing the red-and-black theme that seems so popular this year, it mixes a cannily inverted Eiffel Tower with a mound of skulls (the film is set in the Paris Catacombs) in a hypnotic manner. Who said that great posters had to come out of great movies?
There were some stunning 2-D graphic takes on Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla,” (and you may have noticed our fondness for a black, red, and white color scheme elsewhere on this list), but we weren’t 100% certain those were legit commissioned posters. So instead we’ll go with these perhaps more standard photo-real posters from design house Art Machine, which is nonetheless a great example of blockbuster marketing, truly giving us a sense of the scale of the monster. That it also kind of forewarns us that our actual looks at Godzilla will be rationed until late in the film, and then mostly partial, is something we couldn’t have known until after seeing it.
17. "Gone Girl"
Neil Kellerhouse is one of our favorite designers and he should be one of yours too (just peruse through his site for more striking imagery, including a lot of those Criterion Collection covers you like). If you don’t believe us you should believe tastemaker David Fincher who always has his finger on the pulse of choice visual and sonic aesthetics (Steven Soderbergh is a big champion too). There are lots of great “Gone Girl” posters, but you gotta hand it to the boldness of Kellerhouse’s first one sheet: a puff of smoke floating in front of a lifeless gray background. It’s utterly simple, but tremendously effective, and deftly conveys the mysterious and sinister qualities of this shape-shifting picture. Also kudos to Fincher for having the balls and baller swagger to force through something this vague onto a mainstream movie poster.
16. “Winter Sleep”
Divisive as Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s epic Palme d’Or winner is around these parts, it is at times certainly very beautiful. This one-sheet, a clever mix of Drew Struzan and what looks like rotoscoping, encapsulates that harsh beauty, but also gets at the bookish tone of the film, and the fraught relationship between the central husband and wife, with the snowy wind whipping their hair about as the man hides his face in... shame? Defeat? Exhaustion? The generous wide vista puts the Cathy-and-Heathcliff vibe into context though, something that, arguably, the film, with its tendency for tighter, more claustrophobic interior shots, could use more of.