Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of 2019 (50-31)

What do we always say? The movie poster is a lost art.

Especially now more than ever, with Netflix. Netflix doesn’t even make posters for most of their movies, and if they do, it’s just one, and often times it’s generic and designed to be that little picture to get you to click on the film. Which means that on top of the general laziness that’s out there in creating memorable marketing images for films, an ever-increasing percentage of films aren’t even getting proper posters.

I started this feature originally to shout out some really great posters I saw back in 2011, but now that I actively seek them out each year to find the great ones, there’s been a considerable and noticeable decrease in quality over the years, which is disturbing since it was already bad back then!

Movie posters used to be works of art. They used creative imagery to sell you on a movie, perfectly capturing the essence of the film in a single image. Think of all the great movie posters people would have on their walls. What the hell is there now? What’s gonna be on people’s walls in ten years from this decade? And of course, because I’m a masochist, I try to find 50 each year that I point out as being my favorite for the year. But at this rate, we might have to cut that number down going forward because I don’t know if there are gonna be 50 good posters. Everything’s folding into the same three type of posters — famous people’s faces, character posters, collages. That’s it. That’s every damn poster.

So, here we are, dear friends, trying to find the diamonds in the shit pile that is modern movie posters.

Here are my favorite movie posters of 2019:

We begin, as we always do, with an honorable mention. A poster that didn’t officially make the list but one I want to shout out anyway just because it amused the hell out of me. And this year’s unofficial #51 poster is…

I cackled with laughter when I came across this poster. I didn’t even know they put out multiple posters for Midway. And they put out character posters? Who’s the target audience for this movie? Do people just know famous World War II military figures off the top of their heads like that? It’s not exactly the Avengers, you know? But on top of that, doesn’t Woody just look as surprised as you are that he’s in this movie? That’s what’s so funny to me. “You mean that was a real movie?”

Anyway, onto the list…

50. Booksmart

What a great throwback poster this is. All the high school comedies of the 70s and 80s used this format, and even if you don’t know those posters, somehow you just know that instinctively. That’s a great poster.

49. Brian Banks

Tells you everything you need to know in a single image — football, prison. Guy wants to play, but is incarcerated. Simple, you get it. Doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

48. Annabelle Comes Home

Aside from the fact that it is an innately creepy image, it’s also absolutely hilarious to me. This feels like the poster for every person who wakes up in the middle of the night feeling… amorous. It just looks like the doll’s about to try to fuck her. That’s so funny to me.

47. Dumbo

It looks like an old school circus poster. And I like it. The lack of color is both a hinderance and a plus to me. Don’t ask me how both can be the case, but they are. The lack of color somehow makes it feel more legit and less like some flashy movie poster but it also prevents me from putting it any higher because it’s also kind of bland. But hey, simplicity works. All you need to sell the movie is the elephant with the ears. So good on them for not overdoing it.

46. Brittany Runs a Marathon

Simple and effective. The title, plus her walking and sipping wine while everyone is running in the opposite direction. You get it.

45. Cold Pursuit

Doesn’t make a shit ton of sense, but it’s striking. It makes you turn and look at it. And then you see Liam Neeson and you go, “Oh, I know exactly what this movie is.” Sometimes it’s just that easy. It also kind of explains the tone of the film in a weird way. It’s an action movie, but also kinda ridiculous.

44. Captive State

The red smoke grabs you. I like it a lot. It also kinda gives off the resistance vibes, though I’m not sure how much the whole alien subplot is made clear without reading it. Though I guess you never really do see them anyway, so they’re working with whatever they can. Still, I like the red smoke a lot.

43. Gemini Man

I hated this poster at first, but slowly I realized… what is this movie? Old Will Smith vs. Young Will Smith. That’s the poster. Honestly, simple is better and all things considered, this sells its product more than a lot of the other stuff I saw this year.

42. The Two Popes

It’s called The Two Popes and the picture is two popes sitting there, talking. That’s really all you need.

Plus I love that I can imagine them sitting there, doing dueling Michael Caine impressions and pretend that’s what the film is about.

41. Black Christmas

The ‘single piece of imagery’ posters are few and far between nowadays, so I really like that this one works. You know everything you need to know about this movie from that image. Candy cane fashioned like a shiv, dripping in blood. Christmas… people are gonna die. It doesn’t need to be difficult, guys, and yet, so few studios are able to pull it off.

(The Friday the 13th… of December line is also really great.)

40. light of My Life

The poster is pretty generic, I just love the falling snow over the whole thing. I’m not sure I’ve seen that before quite as effective as this. Really terrific use of the snow everywhere. That’s really all it took to get the poster this high for me. That’s how low a bar it is for movie posters nowadays.

39. Rocketman

It’s an Elton John biopic, so you’re selling it on an iconic image that immediately screams “Elton John.”

I think we can say that it succeeds in doing that.

They don’t even tell you 100% that it’s Elton. You just know. That’s a good poster.

38. Freaks

What I love about this poster is that it doesn’t tell you anything, and yet… you’re intrigued. You’re trying to figure out what the movie is about. Which makes it even better when you start watching the film, because you’re still trying to figure out what’s going on as you watch it. So I like it a lot. I imagine most people won’t like this one as much as I do, but I just think it’s a really effective poster that does a lot while saying a little.

37. Piercing

It looks just like an old school grindhouse poster, down to the creases. I love it. Absolutely love it. It’s just kinky and weird and yet perfectly descriptive of the kind of experience you’re going to get. Great poster.

36. Queen & Slim

This is the iconic image from the film. It’s striking, it jumps out at you and it makes you wonder what this movie is about.

Plus, I’ll admit, I can’t help but look at this and think of that photo your family makes you and your cousin take on Christmas when you’re older and don’t want to be forced to take pictures anymore.

35. The Report

I love a good classified/redacted kind of poster. It’s got the feel of a photocopy, plus all the text is on Driver’s body, which is a nice touch, plus you get all the themes of the movie in bigger font, plus the redacted title. Perfectly describes the movie and is just a cool image to look at. Good to know Amazon’s not being as lazy as Netflix when it comes to posters.

34. It Chapter Two

I just love that his head is the entire poster. It’s both striking and unsettling at the same time. There was another one with his face behind a bunch of balloons that I also kinda liked, but that one seemed more ridiculous the more I saw it. This one remains unsettling. And it gives you everything you need for a sequel. This poster works.

33. The Goldfinch

This is a weird one, because I still can’t tell you what it’s about, outside of a painting and a fire. But I want to know more, looking at this and seeing the cast. Plus, and maybe this is just me, I know that Roger Deakins shot this movie and I see that image, so I think, “Man, that shit looks crisp. Deakins must have shot the hell out of this.” So admittedly that’s part of why I put it this high. But I just think it’s a striking image that makes me want to know more about the film.

32. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

I love this one. Somehow I thought it was live action and not painted. I would have put it higher if they somehow achieved that shot with a real actor. Still, a great image. It’s everything you need to know about the film in a nutshell. It’s a really beautiful poster.

31. Uncut Gems

It’s simple and effective. Black and white, and just Sander. That’s all you need. Adam Sandler is clearly not doing a comedy and bad shit is going to befall him. Got it, I’m in. Doesn’t need to be complicated, folks.

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One response

  1. I love the poster to The Last Black Man in San Francisco! As for Cold Pursuit – I think the poster is so so extreme that it even suggest a black comedy.

    December 12, 2019 at 3:32 pm

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