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Best Movie Posters of 2012: Retro, Sexy, Design-y, Scary, Striking and Stylish

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood January 1, 2013 at 6:19AM

Capturing the expanse of a film on a flimsy two-foot-by-three-foot piece of paper is a challenge; trying to woo audiences to see a movie, given only this paper, is a feat. Each year, the movie poster medium boasts some incredible looking efforts - some that even veer towards art. The best posters of 2012 don't have much in common - and neither do the movies they represent - but they caught our eye and sometimes left a more indelible print than the movie that inspired them. Among the best is "Killing Them Softly," which featured a design geek's dream layout: simple, well-positioned and sharp. "Django Unchained" is iconic, Tarantino, piqued our interest well before more details leaked. "The Dark Knight Rises" poster that revealed urban remnants reflecting a bat wing is a little heavy-handed, but fittingly so. The minimalism of the blacked-out "Zero Dark Thirty" also leaves a similarly striking reverb. Sometimes, the poster outshone the film. Oliver Stone's "Savages," promised fast, sexy, colorful. "John Carter" hinted at a mystical world, unfolding in the face of an undaunted explorer; the poster was dreamier. If any vibe reigned supreme, it might have been retro. "Moonrise Kingdom" is dream-pastel soft - the picture of childhood imagination that it captured. "The Paperboy" also goes for an over-exposed look. Art-house "American Animal" employed a hot-pink that seems to have been produced in 1986. The faded imagery in the Rorschach-test-poster for "The Master" gave it a simultaneously traditional and uneasy feeling. For the 2013 roster of films, "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III," "The Lone Ranger," and "The Wolverine" have already made headway into great film art. The poster for Chan-wook Park's "Stoker" was so great, we grouped it along with the 2012 set to give a preview of what's next.
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Best Movie Poster 2012

Capturing the expanse of a film on a flimsy two-foot-by-three-foot piece of paper is a challenge; trying to woo audiences to see a movie, given only this paper, is a feat.  Each year, the movie poster medium boasts some incredible looking efforts - some that even veer towards art.   The best posters of 2012 don't have much in common - and neither do the movies they represent - but they caught our eye and sometimes left a more indelible print than the movie that inspired them.

Among the best is "Killing Them Softly," which featured a design geek's dream layout: simple, well-positioned and sharp.  "Django Unchained" is iconic, Tarantino, piqued our interest well before more details leaked.  "The Dark Knight Rises" poster that revealed urban remnants reflecting a bat wing is a little heavy-handed, but fittingly so.  The minimalism of the blacked-out "Zero Dark Thirty" also leaves a similarly striking reverb.

Sometimes, the poster outshone the film. Oliver Stone's "Savages," promised fast, sexy, colorful.  "John Carter" hinted at a mystical world, unfolding in the face of an undaunted explorer; the poster was dreamier.

If any vibe reigned supreme, it might have been retro. "Moonrise Kingdom" is dream-pastel soft - the picture of childhood imagination that it captured.  "The Paperboy" also goes for an over-exposed look.  Art-house "American Animal" employed a hot-pink that seems to have been produced in 1986.  The faded imagery in the Rorschach-test-poster for "The Master" gave it a simultaneously traditional and uneasy feeling.

For the 2013 roster of films, "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III," "The Lone Ranger," and "The Wolverine" have already made headway into great film art.  The poster for Chan-wook Park's "Stoker" was so great, we grouped it along with the 2012 set to give a preview of what's next.

moonrise kingdom
Killing Them Softly Poster
Savages Poster
Cabin in the Woods Poser
Django Unchained
The Master
Paper Boy Poster
American Animal
Haywire
Looper
Dark Knight Rises Poster
Stoker Poster

This article is related to: Moonrise Kingdom, Killing Them Softly, Savages, The Master, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Zero Dark Thirty, The Paperboy


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.