As Sam Smith sung so unmemorably in “Spectre” this year, the writing’s on the wall. The writing, in this case, being the titles and taglines of movie posters, and the walls being bus shelters and blog posts. Movie posters still operate an enormous place in our culture — for the layman, they might be the first time they become aware of a film’s existence, for others, they can become icons that embody everything great about a particular picture.
Between Mondo-style artwork, endless character posters, and smart, upstart distributors not playing by the rules, there’s a greater breadth and variety of film posters than ever before, and as such, there felt like no better place to start off our End-Of-Yearpalooza of coverage of the best of 2015 than with a look at our favorite film posters of the year.
We had only one real rule: a poster had to be part of a film’s official marketing campaign (i.e. not Mondo artwork), and it had to be for a movie released in 2015, or a poster released for a 2016 film. Last year, we gave our top slot to the artwork from Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy” — who’ll win out this time? Take a look at our top 20 below to find out, and let us know your favorites in the comments.
20. “Nasty Baby”
Sebastian Silva’s Sundance pic, a cult film in the making about a gay couple who team with their best friend (another in a string of impressive turns this year from Kristen Wiig) to have a baby, has a sting in its tail, and that’s reflected in the poster that The Orchard’s campaign centered around: a sort of cross-stitch textured image of an infant sticking out its tongue. Aesthetically similar to recent posters for “Bad Words” and “Nightcrawler” to some degree, this nevertheless stands out, perfectly selling the don’t-give-a-fuck punkish attitude of both this film, and Silva’s work in general, to date.
One of the better, and certainly most underseen, British movies of the year, and one of the best Brit crime pics in some time, was Gerard Johnson’s “Hyena.” The film, starring Ben Wheatley regular Peter Ferdinando as a corrupt cop, had a striking, neon-soaked visual aesthetic that, in places, felt close to a horror movie (it’s not surprising that Nicolas Winding Refn is a fan). And that carried through to this poster, showing a blue-tinged London street being crossed by a hyena casting the shadow of a man. InSync and BemisBalkind’s U.S. poster, linked here, was strong too, but a touch more familiar.
18. ”Goodnight Mommy"
The Gravillis Inc designs for Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala's "Goodnight Mommy" (Austria's foreign-language Oscar entry) are also excellent, evoking an old-school "Village of the Damned" feel, but they do somewhat tip the film's hand in advance, and could almost be considered spoilery. So, for eerie impact that remains enigmatic, almost otherworldly, we're going with the film's other campaign by Austrian designer Matthias van Baaren, this Saul Bass-inspired poster that were also used more widely in the film's European release (the German title is "Ich Sehe, Ich Sehe").
17. ”High Rise"
One of our favorite designers, Jay Shaw, returns to the list he conquered last year (his design for Denis Villeneuve's "Enemy" was our favorite poster of the 2014) with this supremely iconic teaser for Ben Wheatley's as-yet-unreleased "High Rise." Shaw seems remarkably adept at evoking very precise influences, and this poster is no exception. In fact, we had to double and treble check that it was an original artwork and not a repurposing of a 1970s book cover design for the JG Ballard novel on which the film is based. Chilling, dystopian, brilliantly simple, and perfectly apropos.
16. ”Digging For Fire"
Some of the most individual and idiosyncratic of designs come from some of the smaller, more idiosyncratic, indie films, and they don't get much indie-er than mumblecore pioneer Joe Swanberg. But "Digging for Fire" marks another step towards a more accessible, more overtly entertaining style of moviemaking (if no less personal) for Swanberg, and that's reflected in this bold, colorful, striking poster design from P+A, featuring an almost Frida Kahlo-esque painting by Akiko Stehrenberger.