I have always adored movie poster design, and like to appreciate the best examples when I see them. In this 21st century age of badly Photoshopped heads I think we need to praise good poster art more than ever.
Here are the 10 that most caught my eye in 2021. Feel free to note your own in the comments.
Given Encanto‘s broad ensemble cast and the way their family home effectively acts as a character in itself, this poster both best reflects the film and provides a vivid burst of colour on the movie theatre walls. It is clearly an idea that works, because the technique is also used to great effect in our next choice.
Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch is a meticulously developed tribute to the New Yorker, down to the film’s basic aesthetic. It is fitting, then, that this same aesthetic is perfectly replicated in its original teaser poster. Not only that but, like Encanto, the use of a building populated with characters really drives home the ensemble nature of its cast.
The bold use of blue here really makes this Luca poster stand out. It also uses a strong visual division between air and water to drive home the central conceit of a child from one world coming to experience the other. The small coastal town far to the left side showcases its Mediterranean setting, as done the particularly vivid blue used for the water. The poster is not only beautiful but wonderfully simple.
I have adored this poster for indie hit Shiva Baby ever since I first laid eyes on it. I’m not certain how well known Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ 1965 album Whipped Dream and Other Delights is these days, but Shiva Baby enacts a pitch-perfect tribute while humorously adding bagels to emphasise the Jewishness of its story.
This poster for horror relaunch Wrong Turn is just so vividly green. There is still an overwhelming trend in movie posters to adopt an orange and teal motif, so anything that breaks out of that paradigm is good with me. Green is also an unusual colour for horror cinema, and emphasises the “terrible things in the forest” premise of the franchise.
This is a wonderfully old-fashioned poster for people on the Internet to marvel at, and discuss how bold and effective it looks – let us not pretend it is the kind of poster that sells movie tickets to the mainstream. The subsequent release poster was a bit more mainstream – not that it helped The Last Duel‘s chances at the box office – but I do adore the simplicity here.
This old-fashioned block cut style, while not helping a big studio release like The Last Duel, is absolutely perfect for a small independent-minded Shakespeare adaptation like The Tragedy of MacBeth. The art is sensational, although I am not 100 per cent sold on how the title has been visually broken up.
The Matrix sequels were typified by their greenish hues, and nowhere more obvious was this than in their poster designs. That’s why this teaser poster for the belated sequel The Matrix Resurrections is so eye-catching. The stark white space lets it stand out on the cinema wall, while the small central image of the red and blue pills immediately remind the audience of the original 1999 film. They released a lot of Resurrections posters in the lead-up to its release. I think this was the best one.
I love the poster for Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story for a number of reasons. For one thing it manages to blend old-fashioned style with a contemporary design sense. For another, the use of the two leads in shadow only both emphasises that the film itself is the star attraction and signifies the shadow of the original Robert Wise movie.
Straight-up my favourite movie poster of the year. It is a stunning piece of artwork, with that visit neon red dominating and the intricate elements around the samurai helmet catching the eye for much longer than a typical poster does. It is easy for art like this too look confusing and busy, but I honestly feel this example avoids that.
If you’re still keen to look at cool posters, here are my top 10 picks for 2020.