Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of 2018 (50-31)
I start this article every year with the same statement: the movie poster is a lost art.
It gets truer each year, and actually becomes more disgusting as time goes on, because now, with the rise of the streaming service, they don’t even bother putting out posters for some movies anymore. And the big mainstream stuff, it’s devolved into character posters and giant collages of all the actors’ faces on them. They’re only interested in selling the IP and the people in the movie rather than selling the movie. They’re either trading off a known property or images from great posters from years back, or they’re putting famous faces into the same collage they use for everything else. If you love a good movie poster as I do, you should be disgusted with the stuff they’re putting out.
A good movie poster should give you everything you need to know about a film in a single image. It should be both eye-catching and thematically relevant. Bonus points if you look at it and immediately want to see the movie more than you did before you saw it.
Offhand, can you immediately name more than five posters you saw this year and went, “Oh wow”? And here I’m trying to come up with 50. So that’s my struggle each year. But in listing as many as I do, you start to learn certain things. One, you’ll realize just how little the big studio films need to bother doing anything creative in their marketing. Two, you’ll learn that certain filmmakers are always the same ones putting care and consideration into their marketing, which always makes them stand out. And three, you’ll see, with me including so many different posters, just how few there really are that are truly fantastic. And four — this one’s more of a pipe dream — hopefully you’ll learn just how easy it is to put any kind of creativity in a poster, and if you end up being someone that is a part of this process at any point, maybe you’ll help change this disturbing trend we’re on.
But anyway, here are my favorite movie posters of 2018.
We begin with an honorable mention. Because of course. If you’re gonna list 50 of something, why not include an extra one?
My unofficial #51 favorite poster of the year is….
Why? Because it’s Shaq dressed as an old man and it has the words “Dunk Fu” on it.
No one said there were set rules for this list. It’s just the shit I enjoy.
There are 50 more of these guys. Now you know what you’re getting into.
Okay, here’s the official list:
50. Operation Finale
The swastika in the crack of the glasses is a nice touch. Plus the Eichmann face in the blood stain is cool too. Simple, effective. Tells you what you need to know: “Get the Nazi.”
I like that it’s minimalist. Just eyes, nose, mouth. And the image of the couple in the teardrop is really nice too. Broadly tells you what you need to know (though I’m not sure the movie actually delivers on that, but that’s not the poster’s fault).
48. Proud Mary
Two Taraji P. Henson movies in a row. That’s funny.
This one I saw toward the end of last year and figured it would make this list. It makes it feel very throwback 70s blaxploitation, with her and the afro. But having the afro be guns and the city and all the other characters is a nice touch. If nothing else, this poster makes you stop and go, “What’s this one?” Which is what you want it to do.
47. Incredibles 2
It’s simple. And it perfectly captures the dichotomy of the characters — regular people/home life vs. superheroes. And when you already have the first movie to inform a lot of what you’re selling, you don’t need to do anything more complicated than this. You get it immediately, and it works.
I don’t think there’s been a film of Jason Reitman’s that hasn’t made my top posters list. (Maybe Labor Day.) He’s someone who gets it, and knows how to design a good poster to sell his movie. And he’s got two of them this year.
This one I like because you get the movie — Charlize Theron as a mother. And clearly she’s overwhelmed, and I’m glad they don’t try to oversell that fact with her putting one of those comical looks on her face. Here it’s more like, “Oh jesus fucking christ is this my life?” And all the stickers on her face do the rest. And the tagline is very good too. That’s two in a row with good taglines.
Not the sexiest poster ever, but I love the yellow, black and white. Plus, really all you need is the silhouette of Cheney and we all know what it is. I like the shading of the eyebrows. That’s a nice touch.
44. Deadpool 2
A nice Norman Rockwell painting with all the characters. That’s fun. Again, I’m not putting it that high because the first movie is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but the first ten or so are always “oh, that’s fun” entries anyway. Though I do keep getting weirded out over what the hell this conversation is supposed to be. Domino’s looking at whatever that girl’s name is, then she and the other two are looking at TJ Miller, and Colossus and the blind lady are looking at us? I don’t know. It gets the point across either way.
43. Ant-Man and the Wasp
These posters are always gonna work because they’re tiny. It’s the easiest way to sell this movie. The first poster was him tiny, and now it’s him and her tiny. It doesn’t have to be difficult.
42. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Sometimes a poster makes it because it just makes you feel warm and good inside. Does it not make you feel great to see Mr. Rogers putting on his jacket? Sometimes that’s all you need.
41. The Sisters Brothers
It’s the French poster, but it’s still a nice image. Normally I’d put an image like that higher on beauty alone, but I’m keeping myself honest this year and am not just gonna do it because it’s a cool western image. Also, I’ve seen this image in a movie recently (The Homesman) and, having seen this movie, this has absolutely nothing to do with what the movie’s about. Still, love the image.
40. American Animals
I really like this poster. Not putting it higher because it’s trading on the Reservoir Dogs imagery, but the angle and the use of the flamingo is a really nice touch. Plus, them actually walking on the story is kind of what this movie is all about. So, big fan of this poster, but not gonna put it any higher. Still, it’s here, and that’s what matters.
The playing card aspect is a nice touch, plus that VHS distortion grading is also nice. And while it’s a little obvious, it does get the point across — is she or isn’t she crazy. And it does that thing movies do with a crazy person, where they do that distortion thing, which I think is a bit overdone. But it gets the job done and it looks nice.
38. The First Purge
This franchise has always been under the radar solid. Maybe it’s just the concept, but it’s always been quietly okay all around. And I feel like they’ve been good in their choice of imagery. This poster is no exception. You already know the premise based on the previous films, but even if not, you get it immediately. It’s also great that this poster doubles as a political cartoon for 2018. That about sums it all up.
Great poster. Wish it looked maybe less like a photoshopped image, but maybe that’s just my too-critical eye. But the image itself is fantastic. Because that’s the movie. I keep going back to the logline I heard for this going into Sundance: “A buddy comedy in a world that won’t let it be one.” Tell me that poster doesn’t immediately sell you on that. It’s perfect. Honestly if this poster looked a little better designed, it probably would be in my top 15. I absolutely love this image, and it’s one of the most perfect poster designs for its film of this year.
36. Robin Hood
It’s one of those images that’s so obvious you wonder why no one’s done it before. Sure, if they didn’t tell you it was Robin Hood, you probably wouldn’t necessarily know, but arrows usually are a giveaway. Still, I like the image of the arrows as trees in a forest. Not something I’ve seen before, and I like it.
35. The Predator
Because I don’t know what the fuck this is. This is the Chinese poster for The Predator. There are several like this, all of which have the Predator doing regular things, like typing at a computer. I have no idea why they’re selling this movie like this, but the image is so insane that I couldn’t not put it on this list. Tell me this poster isn’t awesome.
It has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the film, but honestly, I think we’d all have preferred this version of the movie, both facetiously and kinda seriously.
It’s rare that something you’d have as a joke poster actually is the official poster for a movie.
34. Death Wish
Love an old-fashioned throwback poster. This is grindhouse cinema. That’s what it’s selling. Sure, the poster is better than the movie, but it’s not like that isn’t a common occurrence. I like the blue-yellow motif, with the red thrown in to pop the title. It’s just a nice poster. Also tries to sell the “Bruce is back” thing, which… not quite, but it’s an admirable attempt. I just really like this poster. It makes me more interested in what is otherwise a movie I wouldn’t really care about whatsoever.
Love it. Really love it. First off, it’s a documentary about Hal Ashby, which is awesome. But also, what a simple image, for a director who isn’t the flashiest of filmmakers, but left an indelible mark on cinema with his string of hits in the 70s. I love this poster, and how does this not make you stop and go, “What’s this one about?”
32. First Man
As simple as it looks, this does sell the movie in a single image. Because it’s all about Neil Armstrong, meaning it’s all about Ryan Gosling’s performance as Neil Armstrong. And a lot of the film is predicated on close ups of his face, with his eyes doing most of the work of conveying everything that’s going on. Plus, the flashes and motion going on around him is very indicative of what it feels like to watch this movie, since sound design accomplishes a lot in this movie. This is a very strong poster, even though it might not appear that way at first glance.
31. Leave No Trace
I love images of forests, so maybe I’m just being a sucker for that. Plus it’s mostly trees with only them in the corner of the poster, which is cool. Plus it works, because that is the story, this image. Whether it’s them living or existing in the forest, or them taking steps out of it and into the world. It’s a nice image.
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