Mike’s Top Ten Movie Posters of 2014 (30-11)

The movie poster is a lost art.

That is always the first thing I say when I start talking about my favorite posters of the year. I started this feature back in 2011, when I saw the poster for The Ides of March and thought, “That’s one of the most original poster designs I’ve ever seen.” And it made me realize just how lazy advertising departments are now, regurgitating the same twelve poster designs, trying to remind you of all the other movies like that one that you saw, rather than doing something that sticks out and is unique, and makes you want to see the movie purely on its poster design. How often now do you see a poster and go, “Man, what is that movie?”

At this point so many different variations of a poster get released (teaser posters, first poster, second poster, character posters, DVD cover art), it’s hard to even keep track of them. So rarely are we left with a singular image from a film. It’s because the marketing team only cares about trying to make money for a film and not about truly selling the film. You’ll see more and more that what end up being the best posters of the year are films with a deliberate voice behind them, which either means that the director is very hands on and cares about their product, all the way down to the marketing, or because the voice of the filmmaker is so strong, it bleeds over into the marketing.

The point is — even though the art of movie poster making is a dying one, I’m still going to celebrating the good that is left. I look for posters that are simple, memorable, and tell you exactly what a movie is about in a single image. Or, sometimes things are just cool. It’ll be pretty obvious as we go.

So here are my favorite posters of 2014:

Here’s a link to yesterday’s list, in case you missed it:

Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of 2014 (50-31)

Blue Ruin Movie Poster

30. Blue Ruin

It’s simple, for one. I like that. Like the complementary colors thing going on. And it’s exactly what the movie is about. Beautiful poster. If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly how good of a poster this is. Perfectly fits the tone of the movie.

Horns Movie Poster

29. Horns

Like this. Don’t think I’ve featured the newspaper poster yet on my list. I like when they do that. Sparingly, but I do like it. Allows them to get all the poster exposition out in cooler ways than just splashing it down at the bottom. I also like how this doesn’t really give away what the movie is about. But, it’s mostly the newspaper thing I like. I’m a simple man with simple tastes.

X-Men Days of Future Past Movie Poster

28. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Big fan of this alternative poster, with the propaganda. But I ultimately went with this one, since this, while not being flashy, is an absolute brilliant poster. This is the movie. It blends both versions of the story into one in a nice, organic way. And it’s a great image. The two actors we know as Professor X in a single poster. Simple, and great. I’m not downgrading it just because it’s not flashier. In concept alone, this is one of the best posters of the year.

John Wick Movie Poster

27. John Wick

Keanu Reeve is a time bomb. Perfect. That’s it. You got the film in a single image. That’s a poster.

Plus, Keanu Reeves is a fucking time bomb.

Tusk Movie Poster

26. Tusk

Nice image. The walrus tusk on the moon. Simple and effective poster that tells you what this is about. Can’t ask for much more than that.


Kill the Messenger Movie Poster

25. Kill the Messenger

Completely downgraded this because of the hashtag instead of the title. It disgusts me how often hashtags are used instead of titles now to promote movies. But that aside, the image of the Capitol building on a crack spoon is pretty terrific. So I split the difference. Great poster, downgraded for the hashtag instead of the title (alongside would have made it more tolerable) means it’s just straddling the top 25.

The Guest Movie Poster

24. The Guest

I like neon colors in posters. Pretty simple. Plus it’s just a silhouette of a chick with a gun. That’s awesome. Looks a little light for a movie poster, but I think this is simple and effective.

A Most Violent Year Movie Poster

23. A Most Violent Year

It’s one of those faded, 1970s crime type posters. Not wholly original, but it just makes me feel all warm and good inside, thinking about the kind of movie this will be. And that’s why it’s higher up on my list. Plus I like that it’s them standing outside the city, as if they’re going to move into the entire thing and claim it as their own. So it’s nice thematically. But mostly this is a personal choice, and not one that I imagine most people would put this high. But who cares, because it’s my list.

The Drop Movie Poster

22. The Drop

The other poster is nice, with the gun on the bridge, but, like the previous entry, I love these posters that remind you of 70s movies. This one is really amazing. It’s so good. It’s just him walking down a street in Brooklyn. All washed out and faded. This could be a poster for a movie from 1975. And I love that. I’m actually thinking this should have gone higher, but at this point, the rankings don’t even matter outside the top ten, and the point is to show you how great these posters are. And this poster is great.


21. Interstellar

I wasn’t overly blown away by the posters for this movie. They’re nice, but they’re not “fuck me” nice. I almost went with this version of the poster instead, since, thematically, this is the one that represents the entire movie. But I went with this one, since the image is the most appealing. It’s all there, just not as obvious. Still, while I do like the posters here, I don’t love them. So I’m keeping them just outside the top 20, since, almost like the film itself, I’m not really sure what to do with it, since I don’t quite know my true feelings on it just yet.

The Maze Runner Movie Poster

20. The Maze Runner

Gotta say — they had some really nice posters for this movie. The original version is quite good on its own. Mazes are always great images, and they found ways to really make the posters stand out. Little people running into big maze. I could have very easily put the original in here. Or this alternate (or this one) which are nothing but pictures of the maze itself. Those are also great looking. But, as I’m sure stands out among my choices, I always like going for the more Saul Bass-type posters. And just looking at the one up there, it’s really obvious why I chose it. That could be a Hitchcock poster. (I mean, it could also be a swastika too.) It’s great imagery. (And so is this one. This version is brilliant, thematically, and is actually better than the movie is.) The marketing team did great jobs with these posters.

Boyhood Movie Poster

19. Boyhood

Because sometimes simple is better. It’s a boy on grass. This is his story. What more do you need?

Jersey Boys Movie Poster

18. Jersey Boys

It’s a bunch of guys singing under a street light. Love it. And the rest is darkness. Great. And the fact that you know the movie and who it’s about makes it work even more. Simple images, people. You don’t need much more than this.

Good Kill Movie Poster

17. Good Kill

Big fan of these types of posters. This one is great. It’s a movie about drones. So the drone’s in white, the ink is dropping off like bombs, and everything around it is red — it’s stark imagery. And effective as hell. Definitely one of the best designs to come around this year.

Life Itself Movie Poster

16. Life Itself

I had to. And I don’t need to explain this choice for a second. This poster is perfect.

Night Moves Movie Poster

15. Night Moves

The original poster is actually quite good. But we’ve established how much I love the water color poster design. And this actually works dramatically. Them bleeding into the trees and the boat, which represents something they do in the movie that the entire movie is centered around. Really good poster design. But mostly it’s about the watercolor for me.

Nighcrawler Movie Poster

14. Nightcrawler

This just reeks of 80s. Almost too hipstery for me, but honestly, this reminds me of an Elmore Leonard book I’d have had when I was 15. Or any of those kinds of books. So for that alone, I stuck with it. I also like how pixelated it is. Very VHS.

Bad Words Movie Poster

13. Bad Words

This is the perfect storm of simple posters that are incredibly effective. In terms of design and uniqueness, this is a top ten poster of the year. It’s brilliant. The reason is, it’s a movie called Bad Words. And in this poster, you know exactly what he’s saying. And they don’t have to say a thing. Absolutely perfect. (And the alternative posters are cute, too, with the cat, rooster and donkey.)

Fury Movie Poster

12. Fury

It’s a man and his tank. Simple and effective. Perfect poster. Aided by a good tagline.

Laggies Movie Poster

11. Laggies

I think the theme of this year’s list is going to end up being, “Don’t be fooled by simplicity.” It’s called Laggies, so all they put on the poster is a turtle. That is absolute genius. And they use a nice shade of purple, which you don’t see often, is appealing on the eyes, and actually makes this stand out among posters, because no one uses color like this. Your eye is drawn to it. It’s an amazing poster, and I almost wish I’d put it in my top ten. I much prefer simple posters like this to ones where every single character is standing on the front. This poster is selling the movie on a feeling and a theme, whereas all the other posters are selling it based on who’s in it. Simple is better, people.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, I will list my top ten favorite movie posters of 2014.


One response

  1. Jesse

    I’m pretty sure #killthemessenger was code for “Focus Features’ entire marketing campaign for the film.” That’s straddling #1 for “movie distributors that tried least this year.” Other than that I do like that poster too. I think I need to see John Wick to understand why this poster is such a big deal. A lot of people seem to like it, but it doesn’t excite me much at all.

    December 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

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