Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of 2016 (50-31)

You know what I’m gonna say — the movie poster is a lost art.

Because the movie industry is divided into movies with built-in audiences that don’t need to market and tiny movies that aren’t gonna get a giant audience no matter how hard they market them, nobody much cares about the posters anymore. Either they’re the same cut-and-paste jobs with the same five templates or they’re putting the stars’ names on them with some sort of stock image from the film that is only there to get you in the theater.

But a good movie poster is about tying stars and subject matter. It sells your stars and encapsulates the themes of a film in a single image. And no one cares about that now. Plus, there are so many posters for a movie — the teaser, the first official poster, the second official poster, character posters — that they don’t take any chances and all fit them into a standard format that you’ve seen a hundred times over.

By the time this year is over, I’ll have seen over 350 new films from 2016 alone. And I barely found 50 of them that made me at least go, “Oh, that’s kinda nice.” Which, if you’re doing the math, is less than 15%. So if you’re in a movie theater and walk by five movie posters, the odds that two of them are gonna be great is not in your favor. It’s a shame.

But, since there are a few really good ones that come out, I like to celebrate the ones that actually do put a little effort into selling themselves. So I comb through 85% of shit in order to uncover the 15% of diamonds among them. Well… maybe like 8% diamonds and 7% cubic zirconia.

That said, here are my favorite posters of 2015:

I will begin with one mention of a poster I liked because the tagline was so good. The poster wasn’t great at all, but the tagline was amazing. And they really don’t do taglines much like they used to, but those are so specific to their movies, I can’t really rate those. But to me, one of the taglines that really made me smile because it was so clever was for Central Intelligence. “Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson.” Brilliant. Whoever came up with that deserves a raise. But that’s not a poster, that was just my only way of shouting that out.

We begin, as we always do, with my one honorable mention. My unofficial #51 favorite movie poster of 2015 is Born to Be Blue.


I surprised myself this year by not giving into some of my impulses. No poster designed to look like an MC Escher image (Divergent). No IMAX poster that looks cool but is meaningless (Dr. Strange). No standard design I’ve gone with before and like just because it works every time (10 Cloverfield Lane). I went simple, and subdued. A movie about Chet Baker. Simple. Man, and trumpet. And the blue border makes it pop. Simple and effective.

Okay, and now for the list proper:

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50. Miss Sloane

Okay, so some designs I am a sucker for. This is your classic Scarface design, two tone, with the character in the center, signifying two halves of the same person. Here, I think it works because the movie is about government and shades of gray, so I’ll allow it. It also signifies the film in a single image. She works on the dark side of politics, fighting on the light side. I get it. Sure, it’s not original in the least, but I liked it, and it pops.


49. Boo! A Madea Halloween

Because admit it, it’s amusing. It catches your eye, you get it, and you immediately know what you’re getting from a single image. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for much more in a movie poster.


48. Queen of Katwe

Not the most original design, but the off-white background gives it a warmer feel, and the color choice is nice. And I like the image. African girl dealing with all these things at once. Trying to become a chess champion while also dealing with what is clearly a poor upbringing. I get it, and it looks nice. Not the kind of poster I’d expect out of Disney, so that’s nice.


47. Moana

Speaking of Disney. This gets downgraded because they never released this poster in America. They released the image, but not the poster. All the American posters were shitty and generic. Which is what I’ve come to expect out of Disney. But this poster is quite nice. Too bad they never get adventurous in their marketing. Ever.


46. Bad Santa 2

This was almost a gimme. Put Billy Bob drunk, throwing up and/or pissing into something and use the red/white color scheme. It’s simple, and it doesn’t have to do more than this. Sure, it started on second base, but it gets the job done.


45. Deepwater Horizon

This poster made itself the minute the movie was conceived, but that still doesn’t make it any less striking an image.


44. Deadpool

This is more a shoutout to this film’s entire marketing campaign than anything. I don’t love this poster, because it only works when you understand what it’s going for. All of the other posters were amusing and fun, but none of them was great. So I’ll give it a mention, but it’s not gonna end up particularly high for me, rankings-wise. It’s cute and its fun and it sold the movie well. But it’s not like I’m gonna go back and talk about how great poster this is. I’m gonna talk about how great the marketing campaign was and mention this poster as an example of that. Two different things.


43. Hardcore Henry

Pure goddamn mayhem. That’s what this is film is, and what this poster signifies. Thumbs up.


42. Colonia

Looks great. If you had no idea what Colonia Dignidad was, then you have no fucking clue what this movie is about. But you at least went, “What’s this?” because the poster caught your eye. So good for that, but this gives me zero idea of what the movie is about.


41. Finding Dory

You wanna talk about a movie starting on third base. They didn’t have to do anything with this marketing campaign. And they largely didn’t. But hey, you sold your movie in a single image, and you got to use a line from the previous movie as a tagline. That’s adequately effective enough for me.


40. Paterson

I love this image. No idea what this movie is about, and downgrade for not being an English poster. Looks great, though. But can anyone tell me what this is about based on this image?


39. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

It just makes me feel nice. Warm lighting, and I like all the windows. Plus, knowing generally what I’m getting here, that also helps. It’s not a wonderful poster, but it makes me feel good. And that’s part of the battle anyway.


38. Now You See Me 2

It’s a magic movie. Of course it’s gonna have a cool, optical illusion poster. It’s a nice looking card maze. Great. I get it, I’m in. This is exactly what it needs to be.


37. The 9th Life of Louis Drax

This is a nice reversal of one of those posters I tend to go for, which is the image of a bunch of things shaped into a singular image (see the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies poster). I like the negative space being usd to create the image. And the clouds give off the aura of brains or brain waves. Which is nice. Not sure what it’s all about, but it looks nice.


36. Sully

Because how else could you sell this movie? The image of the man you’re portraying, and a plane, in some way. I like that he’s framed through the plane window. Didn’t need it being halfway underwater, but that’s a bonus. This is both a really simple and insanely difficult poster to make, and I think they did a good job with it.


35. Tale of Tales

Looks cool. Old-timey fairy tale cover look, symmetry, and ornate black and whiteness. I just like this poster. There’s not a whole lot to it. I just kind of want to say — look at it. I like it.


34. Captain Fantastic

It looks like a communist propaganda poster, and that, for this film, is a perfect choice. Hard not to love that, thematically, and also it’s just a really cool image with a nice use of color that makes you at least turn your head and look at it when you pass by in the theater.


33. The Witch

Black fucking Phillip. I bet I’d be more excited about this if I got to experience the film the way everyone else did. But I saw this movie in February of 2015. So I had over a year to know about it before everyone else did. So while I love this poster, it doesn’t do anything for me, all this time after the fact. It’s bold, it’s memorable, and you have no idea what the fuck it is, but it’s also a perfectly appropriate image for this film, once you’ve seen it. I feel like this rating is compromised because of my history with the film, but I do really love this poster a lot.


32. Suicide Squad

Originally — I mean in the very, very early days of this movie’s marketing campagin, I thought they were taking a terrific approach. With the bright, bold, neon-ish colors and the David Ayer, gritty, tatted-up look. And then at a certain point, it all kind of leveled out and became pretty ho hum, to the point where it became monotonous. Which is kind of how tracking this movie went. But on a base level, the bright colors and the idea of putting your characters as lucky charms in a cereal bowl is quite nice looking. It feels appropriate, and looks nice. But there’s just not anything here, or in any of the posters for this film, that makes me really love it. I just think it’s nice, but that’s about it.


31. Patriots Day

This reminds me of that Argo poster I loved, with the paper being shredded. It’s hard to reuse something like that, but this is an effective way to do so. The American flag over black is striking and immediately recognizable, and the fact that it’s made up of laces, meant to look like a tattered flag is really well done. Definitely not something I’d say is an absolute favorite poster, but this is way more memorable than I thought it would be and thought it was upon first viewing.

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More posters tomorrow.


One response

  1. This was a really good year for posters! I especially liked the hardcore Henry poster.

    December 12, 2016 at 8:02 pm

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