I love movie posters. Looking at each one on display is one of my favourite things to do when I go to the movies. The following are some of the most celebrated posters, and of course, I’m going to list my favourite ones. The way I figure out which ones go to the top of the heap for me is picturing them on my wall in a den or TV room. Here they are in descending order:
20. The Crow (1994). I just love the look of both the movie and its poster. Not a great flick, but “aesthetically pleasing” (Shout out to the Sussex local business of the same name!)
19. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Again, I’m pretty much Burton’d out by now, so his look in his movies are getting tiresome. But I still love this poster. It’s like Pixar meets Van Gogh. (Yes, I know it’s not a Pixar movie…)
18. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). Of course Audrey’s look is iconic, but I also love how it appears in this cartoonish depiction. Back then the movies used a lot of this kind of art, but to me this is the best version.
17. August Rush (2007). Our movie of the week, and one of the very best posters of the 00’s.
16. Platoon (1986). For me, this movie is good, but the poster even better. The tags forming the o’s and the man reaching up to the sky, the men lining the top in the poster (which looks to me like an homage to the classic army-on-the-hill shot pioneered by Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, 1954). It makes me want to watch the movie, which is what a poster should do.
15. Dial M for Murder (1954). I know the guy looks creepy, almost giving the poster a kind of True Detective Comic look, but this poster really makes you wonder what happens next. And it illustrates such a memorable scene of this movie, one of my favourite scenes of 1950’s cinema.
14. The Exorcist (1973). I haven’t seen this movie, and I’m not convinced that I need to or want to. However, this is one of the coolest movie posters ever.
13. 300 (2006). It may reveal too much, but this is a truly original poster. It lets you know ahead of time of the bloodiness, the killing, but more importantly the epicness.
12. Fargo (1996). I have no idea how someone came up with this idea. The illustration itself is compelling, but to show it as a needlepoint work is something I’d never be able to dream up. It does complement the story’s message very well actually, but that a whole conversation on its own.
11. Chinatown (1974). They could have tried to capitalize on the the star-power this movie had. In a way they did, but choosing this unique style of artwork, with that original font for the title, and his cigarette smoke forming her hair… now that’s cool!
10. Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Again, originality wins out here. The simple yellow background with the family running to get on the van is fun, intriguing, and true to the movie without spoiling anything or making any false promises.
9. Walk the Line (2005). Do I really need to say anything here? Someone deserved a big fat raise after designing this one.
8. Pulp Fiction (1994). Making this poster look like an actual well-worn pulp-style comic is genius (An overused word, I realize, but it applies here dangit!).
7. Almost Famous (2000). I’ve always thought this was a cool looking poster. The sunglasses on a young, impressionable, and slightly vulnerable Kate Hudson with the reflection of a rock band on stage draws me into that movie and its story every time. You can easily forget it’s even Hudson on the poster. Her expression is a little more packed than what can be assumed at first sight.
6. The Godfather (1972). I also like the other versions of this poster where it’s him without the cat or even the one that’s just the title design. Most of what I like here is the simplicity and iconic nature of the poster.
5. Back to the Future (1985). Again, the iconic nature and the nostalgia makes this one a big favourite. And despite the Delorean being clearly seen, it doesn’t show too much. I think one of the best decisions they ever made with this poster and other promo material linked with this movie was to not show anything at all to do with the 50’s.
4. Jaws (1975). This one is often celebrated as the greatest movie poster of them all. You’d think that maybe it was showing too much, but for this movie (especially since you see so little of the shark) it’s perfect. Give you the willies PLUS makes you want to pop it in and watch.
3. Birdman (2014). No movie poster piqued my interest like this one did. Not in a very long time anyway. It was refreshing to finally see some originality in movie posters after what seemed like a 20 years drought. The other poster with all the red on it is terrible, though.
2. Rocky (1976). Sweet Lincoln’s mullet! I love this poster! It really ought to be #1, but…
1. Rosemary’s Baby (1968). I haven’t even seen this movie, but this poster looks so ominous, simple, and captivating. I’ve been wanting (and not wanting) to see this one based on reputation, but this is the kind of poster that makes me want to watch regardless.
Congratulations August Rush. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Keri Russell as Lyla in August Rush.
Best Actor: Sean Connery as Captain Ramius in Hunt for Red October.
Best Quote: “There is a mysterious ritual that dates back thousands of years. No living creature has survived it except the penguin. They have wings but cannot fly. They’re birds that think they’re fish. And every year, they embark on a nearly impossible journey to find a mate. For twenty days and twenty nights the emperor penguin will march to a place so extreme it supports no other life. In the harshest place on Earth loves finds a way.” — Morgan Freeman in March of the Penguins.
You know a movie poster I’m NOT crazy about? Star Wars. Love the movie, but why Luke Skywalker is showing off big pecs and a six-pack with the kind of open shirt that Larry would wear on Three’s Company is beyond me. And why is Leia sitting at his feet showing off an Angelina Jolie at the Oscars leg? Then he’s handling what looks like should be a light saber, but it appears to be exploding, or summoning the powers of Castle Grey Skull. A super weird poster to me.
But I do love movie posters that are minimalist. I wish more movies chose this style. Often posters reveal too much (e.g. E.T.‘s moon and bike) or they do overdone tropes (e.g. Unforgiven’s from-behind shot of a main character holding a weapon). But with these movie posters, you do the guessing of what the movie will be like and teases you to find out the truth. Here are some great examples:
And finally, HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Halloween (1978), American Beauty (1999), La Dolce Vita (1960), So This Is College (1929), Forrest Gump (1994), Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), The Matrix (1999).