20. Piranha 3D
Piranha 3D is great because it is a completely blatant rip-off of cheeseball '70s and '80s monster flicks. Hell, the original Piranha was a pretty major rip of Jaws to begin with. So this poster, which out and out celebrates its predecessor's rampant thievery, is pretty frigging awesome. It's equal parts confession and tribute, and it looks pretty awesome to boot.
There is an even better version of this design that was released in France, but for the bulk of these picks, we're trying to stick to domestic designs. If we started opening up too far into the international realm, all we'd be picking are the Polish poster versions.
So, yeah, this poster is pretty much horrific. But when you're trying to promote The Human fucking Centipede, that's exactly the motif you should be going for. Look at this thing. Just look at it. That image right there tells you every single thing you need to know about whether or not this is a movie you should attempt to watch.
Also, and maybe this is kind of a weird thing to say, but we really dug the subtlety on display here. It's not like they just gave away the whole farm here. With the shadowy, obscured vision of the poor, poor fuckers behind that glass, but just enough to see that the one up top is none too happy about what's happening here, you get such a great tease about the horrors that await. The movie didn't quite live up to the marketing campaign, but this is still a pretty amazing poster.
If you're going to make a wildly over-the-top parody of an exploitation film, then you should go for the gusto when making your rendition of an over-the-top exploitation poster. This design for Machete most definitely goes for the gusto, splaying every major character carrying progressively more ludicrous weaponry, while Danny Trejo lords over them all...while on fire.
There was also a great series of character posters for Machete, the most notable of which featured Lindsay Lohan decked out in her nun costume, licking the barrel of a gun. We tried to avoid picking specific character posters in this feature, but with that one, we were sorely, sorely tempted. Lohan's recent hot-messness helped make that decision a little easier, thankfully.
What's this? A semi-obscure documentary about, of all things, a bunch of political rabble-rousing surrounding a priceless art collection and where it should be housed? How did this end up on the list? Well, just look at that poster! I think that's a pretty enticing little bit of imagery there. If they'd just put up some picture of an impressionist painting and a title, I doubt it would have looked nearly as cool. Even if I didn't know anything about the exact nature of the film (I do, and it's quite good--go watch it on Netflix), I'd be intrigued by what this poster was showing me.
This is just good poster design, plain and simple. That it does such a good job of enticing a potential viewer is icing on the cake.
I Love You Phillip Morris might have had the most colorful poster campaign of any movie in recent years. Every single poster the studio released usually involved Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor colorfully dressed against some painfully bright colored background. While most of those were certainly striking, we think this one just hit the most correct note.
It's still got the bright, colorful aesthetic, but it also shows some legit creativity beyond just having its photoshopped stars looking hyper-gay while walking a tiny dog. We're sure some of you out there find this to be the queerest thing this side of a three-dollar bill, but frankly we just loved the hell out of everything going on here.
Speaking of exploitation cinema, how about an actual, honest-to-god '70s exploitation flick, released for the first time in 2010? That's right, Gone With the Pope made its theatrical debut this year, after years of sitting in unfinished form in star Duke Mitchell's garage, and being assembled piece-by-piece by the same guy who edited The Hurt Locker. The movie made the midnight movie rounds earlier in the year, and along with it came this gloriously trashy poster.
We love every stupid thing about this poster design. The awesome/awful painted rendition of its star, the blatant placement of the goddamned Pope, and the abundance of excellent taglines up at the top, it's all fantastic. Hell, I loved this poster so much, I actually bought one. It's even more glorious up close, let me tell you.
Apart from being the most insane Christmas movie released in years, Finland's batshit crazy killer Santa movie also had some pretty eye-catching marketing behind it. It started with a delightfully weird trailer (which nobody on the Internet could make heads or tails of), and eventually dovetailed into a series of progressively stranger one-sheets.
Of all of them, this one is easily the most striking. I always appreciate it when poster designers go for the painted look--especially when what they're painting is completely fucked up. That snarling, caged Santa certainly qualifies. Plus, honestly, wouldn't you see that poster and feel like you absolutely had to know what the hell this movie was about? I know I certainly would.
13. TRON: Legacy
Disney's TRON: Legacy campaign certainly wins for having the most poster releases of any movie this year (rivaled only by Harry Potter). It certainly doesn't do any harm that a lot of them were extremely cool looking, to boot.
There were like a million different posters to choose from here. Some, highlighting specific characters, some highlighting combinations of characters, and some just throwing everything together into one, big, neon-tinted mess.
Ultimately, we went with this one. It looks cool entirely on its own merits, but it also happens to hearken back to the poster art of the original movie as well. Plus, let's face it: A little Olivia Wilde goes a long way. Not even Garrett Hedlund's doofy mug can cancel that out.
12. I'm Still Here
I'm Still Here was most certainly a colossal failure at the box office, but hey, at least it has a pretty awesome-looking poster to its name.
This entire movie is about Joaquin Phoenix progressively devolving into a hot, disheveled mess. So what better way to hammer that point home than to show Joaquin Phoenix as a hot, disheveled mess?
This is just an aesthetically intriguing piece of work. Even if the dude at the center of this thing looks like he just walked out of an alcoholic wind tunnel, it's a great, striking image, and we really dug the subtly phased-out font of the movie title, as if to suggest that while he might still be here, that might not last. Great stuff.
Buried is a movie about a guy who spends the entire run time buried alive inside a coffin. That doesn't give a poster maker a great variety of images to work with, so kudos to the design team behind this Vertigo-inspired one-sheet.
Sure, it might be derived from one of the greatest movie posters of all time, but it perfectly captures the essence of what this movie is all about in a stylistic and visually pleasing way. The minimalist logo and taglines are also a nice touch, as they give you what you need without distracting from the core image.
There is an alternate version of this poster that goes for a similar concept, but uses effusive review quotes in place of the white lines. Also creative, but definitely not as enjoyable to look at.
10. Let Me In
Poor Let Me In. While it might have been a major box office flop, it wasn't from a lack of a creative (and downright creepy) promotional campaign. Nearly all the posters released featured some play on the notion of juxtaposing childhood innocence and horror--those bloody snow angel ones were the most blatant about that.
Still, of all the ones released, this one takes the taco as the most memorable. I mean, don't you find the image of a (ostensibly) 12-year-old girl lying in the fetal position in a pool of blood a little bit haunting? That said, there's also something just a little bit...beautiful about this image. Then again, I also thought Limbo was the most beautiful game of this year--dead children and all. So maybe my tastes just lean a little fucked.
Another smallish movie that had a really memorable poster campaign. There were a bunch of neat ones, but this teaser poster easily stood out the most among the pack.
The scribbled title font, the uncomfortable close-up of the girl in the gas mask, the faint reflection of the tentacled, titular monsters in the lens of the mask, we love all of it. Hell, I even love the lighting in this picture. It's just a really great shot, and something that would immediately make me want to see this movie if I saw it hanging up in a theater.
Unfortunately, this isn't the poster design they went with for most theater promotions. They did this one instead. Not bad, but compared to this? Meh.
When you're making a documentary about the worst movie ever made--one that turned into a cult midnight movie hit, on top of that--who better to get to do your poster design than the good folks of the Alamo Drafthouse? These dudes have been making unadulterated poster artistry for their various screenings for years, and their design for Best Worst Movie is nothing short of incredible.
Fun story: I have this poster. I bought it at the screening of Best Worst Movie I went to, at which sort-of-star George Hardy also happened to appear. He was half-drunkenly signing people's posters after the screening. In fact, it was sort of difficult to walk by him in the lobby without him accosting you with his pen. George Hardy rules.
7. I Am Love
I Am Love is a thing of beauty, so of course its poster needed to be one too. This portrait shot of Tilda Swinton and her in-movie family more than does the job.
Never mind that the title and image do nothing to let you know what the hell this movie is about. This is one of those cases where, once you've seen the movie, the poster makes a whole lot more sense. No spoilers or anything, but we'll just say that the way the title font encompasses and obscures the bulk of Swinton's family, and conversely surrounds and highlights Swinton herself, is entirely appropriate.
We're sort of cheating here, as this poster was never widely released. Still, this design for the Alamo Drafthouse screening of Scott Pilgrim rules so goddamned hard that we couldn't bring ourselves not to include it.
The posters officially released for this movie were largely fine, but the Drafthouse's limited edition poster does the best job of capturing both what the film is about, while simultaneously paying a bit of tribute to the movie's comic book inspirations. Also, seriously, has Michael Cera ever looked more bad ass than he does here? I mean, he's sort of incapable of it in real life, but this drawing does him a solid, for sure.
Inception came damn close to rivaling Harry Potter and TRON for its abundance of various posters released in the months leading up to the film's debut, though the designers behind these posters some how found a way to make nearly all of them awesome.
It was tough choosing among the many, many great ones, and the first poster, featuring Leo standing inside the flooded city, almost won out. But in the end, we felt like this gravity-defying shot, featuring all of the major cast members in various stages of bad-assery, best captured the overall craziness of the movie itself.
4. True Grit
Films by the Coen Bros. have given us a wide variety of strange and surreal poster art over the years, but few have been as creative and flat-out awesome as this teaser poster for True Grit. Nothing screams "hey, we made a fucking western" quite like this rendition of an old-timey wanted poster, and that it manages to amply get across title, stars and directors while maintaining this awesome aesthetic is simply fantastic.
We also rather enjoy this final, more cast-focused poster that came around shortly before the film's release--mostly for the front-and-center use of angry, eye-patched Jeff Bridges--but when it comes to what we'd like to hang on our wall, this one wins by a landslide.
3. Black Swan
Think back to the first time you saw this poster, and recall, if you can, whether or not you even immediately recognized this girl as Natalie Portman. I know I certainly didn't. This shot is a perfect representation of the transformative quality this movie had on Portman's character. It is simultaneously gorgeous, and sinister looking. It's like she's staring into your goddamned soul, I swear.
To be fair, all of the posters released for Black Swan were pretty great. Of special note were the minimalist European ones. That whole series looked a little like something out of Olly Moss' most intense nightmares.
If I ever have to market a kind of dumb-sounding product, I'm going to hire the geniuses behind The Social Network's campaign. Between the completely intense teaser trailers, and this simultaneously bizarre and mesmerizing poster art, I could not have been more intrigued by the idea of this "Facebook movie," when in months prior I had done nothing but bemoan the idea.
Of course, the movie turned out to be incredible, but I somehow doubt the movie would have been quite the financial success it was without the batshit bananas promotional work done ahead of the release, and this poster was a big part of that.
1. The American
Whatever you might have thought of The American as a movie--you either loved it for its slow-burn, character study mentality, or hated it because it wasn't the action-packed spy thriller you thought it would be--there is no denying that this poster is a-fucking-mazing. It is an absolutely pitch-perfect throwback to the spy thrillers of the '60s and '70s, and just a thing of beauty in its own right. Even the subtle, little details are amazing, like the cutout image of the guy getting shot within the title text.
Giant Bomb's own Ryan Davis even made it a point to buy this poster long before it ever hit theaters. I believe it now hangs on his wall of Clooney, which also includes Out of Sight--another amazing poster, which is actually quite reminiscent of this one.
So! Those are our favorite movie posters of the year, but of course we'd love to see what your favorites were. Hit up the comments to post your own faves, and maybe even praise (or rage against) our choices.