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

by Maggie Lange
January 1, 2013 6:19 AM
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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.


  • Marcus | January 7, 2013 7:59 PMReply

    the creative agency @randombench did the AMERICAN ANIMAL poster

  • Daniel | January 2, 2013 2:31 PMReply

    Adam, yes, but the design of the Babel poster was itself taken from an earlier film, 2005's "Havoc".

    I also don't get why "Looper" and "Batman" are on this list, to me they look extremely generic, like 99% of other movie posters these days.

  • Adam | January 2, 2013 11:09 AMReply

    Is it just me, or is the Savages poster a rip-off of Babel?

  • peter | January 2, 2013 10:21 AMReply

    Well, the poster for "Django Unchained" is a pretty shameless copy of the original poster by Saul Bass for Schindler's List (it was not used on the end... but nevertheless...). But then again, the whole film is a shameless copy of something else...

  • Dan | January 2, 2013 5:59 PM

    Which would be....what exactly? Other than the obvious homage to the spaghetti western in general and the films "Django" and "Mandingo" in particular, "Django Unchained" was the first film about a slave freed by a german bounty hunter, who then becomes a bounty hunter to eventually free his wife, I've ever seen....but...I could be wrong.

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