Mike’s Top Ten Movie Posters of 2015 (30-11)

The movie poster is a lost art.

Look at 90% of the posters you see in theaters. They’re all the same. You’ve seen the templates before. Nothing is original. There are a few hundred new theatrical releases every year, and maybe you get 25 posters that are really doing something new or interesting. How often do you see a poster and go, “What is that movie?”

Not to mention, because there are so many posters come out (teaser poster, first poster, second poster, character poster) we’re never left with a singular image from a film. No one really sells a film anymore. Typically the only time you see a great poster for a film is when there is a singular voice behind it. Directors with strong visions tend to be the ones with the good posters.

I like to celebrate this dying art by appreciating when a film actually puts forth an effort into designing a memorable poster. I search through all the posters of the year and pick out the ones that I feel do the best job of selling their product (regardless of the quality of that product). I want a poster that is simple, memorable, tells you exactly what a movie is about in a single image, or just looks really cool.

Here are my favorite posters of 2015:


30. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Simple, effective, perfect for the film. This is the singular image from the movie: the vampire in the chador. Strong colors. Great poster.


29. Creed

I love me some good framing. Ropes in the foreground, out of focus, character in the background. Simple black and white motif. Plus — Rocky. This is a winning poster.


28. Sicario

There are a couple of cool posters for this. I was also torn about whether or not to include this one. But the labyrinth quality to the tunnel makes me okay with it. The tunnel represents the drug trade, the lines represent all the lies and secrets going on around her, and she’s right there, in the center, in the dark.

The Peanuts Movie

27. The Peanuts Movie

This makes me happy. As does this poster. No title necessary, and it’s a boy and his dog. If this doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.


26. No Escape

There’s always one bad (or forgettable) movie every year that has a really cool set of posters. This is that movie for 2015. Look at this poster and this poster. They’re all better than this movie deserves. But that’s also the beauty of this exercise — it doesn’t account for film quality, only poster quality. And this is a fine poster.


25. Hitman: Agent 47

And here’s another not great movie with a great poster. Black, white and red are always good colors to put together (see: #30 above), plus, the towers are angled in a nice way to make them look overbearing and visually appealing, the logo is cool, and the character is presented nicely at the bottom. This is a memorable poster. (I was also a fan of this poster as well, but I couldn’t resist the colors and design of the one I chose.)


24. Dope

It just makes me happy. Kind of breaking my “no characters rule” here, but you have the nice California landscape here, and this is a movie that’s hard to promote. And I think they did a great job of it with all their posters. So kudos to them for that.


23. Iris

The floral background is wonderful. And I like the subtle addition of it in her glasses. I allow the character to be here because it’s a documentary about her. The use of the flowers as the entire background is a revelation, and I wish more people will use this in the future.


22. The Walk

This was bound to be a great poster. The only downgrade is the cartoonish look to it. (The film has a bit of that as well. It looks almost obviously animated.) Otherwise, overhead, walking on the wire, between the Twin Towers. It’s hard to top the image.


21. It Follows

The darkness and the car lit up is nice, and also subtly what this movie is about. (It’s hard to make a poster about the other half of what the film is about.) It’s a visually appealing poster, too.


20. By the Sea

Yeah, but you have to admit, that’s a smart poster. The two hats overlapping. This is a Pixar short, right here. (Technically it’s a Disney short. From Make Mine Music.) I like how simple it is. And the movie is nothing more than a movie about these two people. And I really respect that they didn’t put the two of them on the poster to try to sell it that way.


19. Ant-Man

This was brilliant. This is the ultimate exercise in simplicity. This is actually one of the ten best posters of the year. But I didn’t love it enough to put it higher because — you know, Marvel. That’s not true. It’s because it is basically just a white poster. But in terms of smart marketing and making the best of your poster, this is one of the best of the year. Unofficially, I consider this one of the ten best posters of the year.


18. Southpaw

A poster that’s pretending to be a poster. I always go for those. Plus, colors. Most people would say this appeals to them. It just does.


17. Shelter

I really love this one. This looks like the cover of a paperback you’d find in a school library, or that you’d have to read in 7th grade. That aside, this is wonderfully simple, and stark. Look at how wonderful this design is. This is the part where all the posters really start kicking into “these all could have been in the top ten” territory. Again, the black white and red coloring. I can’t get over how good this poster is (and how this actually could have been the cover of a book I read in middle school.)


16. Spotlight

Red white and black again. But that’s not the appeal of the poster. This is similar to Whiplash, in that it’s a small image and the reviews are all around it. I’m okay with the reviews here because it’s about journalists, plus I love how small the image of them is. Two things about that. One — yes, it’s like a spotlight is on them. Two, that’s what this movie is about. The journalists are these (relatively) small people doing their job. And then, once their job is done, it’s about the story taking on a life of its own and getting all these things written about it by other people. You don’t realize it, but they showed you the movie in a single image.


15. Bone Tomahawk

Throwback poster. This makes me happy. I can’t explain this being here except to say this reminds me of posters from years ago, and I will always choose those as my favorite.


14. Spectre

The rest of the posters for this movie actually sucked. It was just Bond in the white tux, or in the Day of the Dead costume. Though at this point, what else are they selling if not him? So I get that. This one, though — brilliant image. The bullet hole creating the octopus shattering of the glass. (I’m sure you all know, but that’s Spectre’s logo. The octopus.) That’s two Bond films in a row where they did something so simple and brilliant with the teaser posters.


13. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s fucking Star Wars. Come on, now. I know they’re doing the same poster they’ve done for all the films over again. That’s the point. This should make you feel happy. This is the only time they’re going to be able to get away with this design, but I will allow it this one time. Though it doesn’t get top ten. They started on third base and don’t get to have hit a triple. It’s nice and makes me feel good, but let’s not pretend they did anything amazing with this poster. It’s all nostalgia.


12. The Wrecking Crew

This fucking poster. Look at this. I don’t even need to explain this one. You either get it or you don’t. This makes me so happy. (As should all the names and songs they’re referencing, that this band was directly responsible for.) Also, I’m a huge fan of this other poster, and that probably should have been the choice, but this poster makes me feel so good I couldn’t not choose this.


11. Mad Max: Fury Road

The colors, the man staring down the crazy ass war party. It’s just a delightful poster. You have both no idea what you’re in for and every idea.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is the top ten.


6 responses

  1. Aww, I really loved No Escape. It’s actually in my top 10 for 2015 (and I’ve committed to that, having seen it three times.)

    December 10, 2015 at 1:42 pm

  2. Excellent piece. Interesting. I love good design. Iris and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night are my picks of this list.

    December 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm

  3. #17 is an amazing poster. Almost like an opera poster. The movie was apparently not too hot, but…gorgeous artwork.

    December 10, 2015 at 11:12 pm

  4. Interesting post. All these posters are definitely “effective” in their own way. “By the Sea” poster is probably the only decent thing I have seen so far coming from this movie, though. I would have also nominated the poster to M.Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit”. It follows the same layout as “The Village” poster, but it still appears so unique with rules laid down on a piece of fabric.

    December 11, 2015 at 2:24 am

  5. I love that Iris poster, it perfectly conveys the personality of the subject. So quirky and interesting.

    December 11, 2015 at 9:47 pm

  6. Pingback: December 2015 Favourites | FILM GRIMOIRE

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