Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of 2019 (30-11)

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:

30. Frozen II

Disney framing!

That’s really the only reason this is here. I love the icicles in the foreground. Otherwise, I have no idea what this is supposed to be selling. They’re all just walking like they’re a 1950s TV family, whistling on their way to a picnic or something. But given what the rest of the year is like, it doesn’t take much to excite me about a poster.

29. Child’s Play

It’s a fun marketing campaign — Chucky killing the Toy Story toys. Of course, they can’t make them exactly the same, because lawsuits, but you get the idea. And it totally works. You know who Chucky is based on the title and you totally get the gist of the poster. In theory, A+. In practice, solid B+.

28. A Hidden Life

I always love these painting-type posters. I don’t really know how one sells a film about a pacifist, but this is a lovely attempt at doing just that. It’s a beautiful-looking poster. Plus, it’s Terrence Malick. So if you give a beautiful image on the poster, that basically tells you what you’re gonna get with the film.

27. Us

It’s definitely one of the more iconic images of the year. It makes you wonder what it’s about, and after you see it, you get it. It’s a nice poster.

26. The Laundromat

The other one with the piggy bank and the different currencies is nice, but I really like this one with the bubbles at the bottom. All the characters and the money inside the wash. Perfect representation of the film. Honestly the notion that a Netflix poster almost cracked the top half of this list is a bit surprising to me.

25. Good Boys

It’s a really smart way to sell this movie. Because it’s 12 year olds saying ‘fuck’ a lot. So sell the rating and show the juxtaposition of little kids cursing by showing that they’re unable to get into their own movie. Very smart. Good poster.

24. Alita: Battle Angel

I just like the colors. The only way you sell this movie is her character, so if you’re gonna do it, make it stand out. And blue and pink stand out. The blue-pink pairing is one of my favorite color complements.

That’s it. That’s all I got. It’s a weak year for posters so something like this is really all it takes to get me to like a poster.

23. Fast Color

I love the watercolor blotting as a way to show all the conflict and powers she’s got going on inside. It looks gorgeous and really does a good job of selling a difficult-to-sell film. Though admittedly you’re not entirely sure of the plot from seeing this image, but it does grab you in a way that makes you curious. Plus, the film is more an indie character piece than a ‘superhero’ film, and that’s the vibe the poster gives off. So to me it totally works.

22. Captain Marvel

It looks like an old propaganda poster, which is pretty cool.

That’s really all I got for this one. It just looks cool.

21. Amazing Grace

What more do you need for a documentary about Aretha Franklin singing than an image of Aretha Franklin singing?

20. Greta

It’s a shame I didn’t like this more, because this is one of the few posters that does what I love most about posters… creating a single image to define your film. And I think it’s because you need a bit of information to fully get it. Namely the trailer. But the tagline helps a bit. She leaves the bag, and when you return it, bam, you’re on the hook. Simple and effective. That said, if I were to fully understand everything I needed to know about the film from this image, it would have made my top ten. Still, I love that it’s doing more work than 90% of the posters out there.

19. Glass

It’s a good poster. It’s the movie in an image. All three of these guys in an asylum, but then in their minds, they are these people — McAvoy is ‘The Beast’, Jackson is ‘Mr. Glass’ and Bruce Willis is… I guess Unbreakable? Does he have a hero name? Or is he just boring ass David Dunn? Whatever. It tells you everything you need in a single image. And the tricolor effect is just stunning. That’s really my favorite part of this image. If it were just normally colored, this wouldn’t have gone nearly as high. I love the three shades thing going on.

18. The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

This image is just striking. This one just cuts right through to me. I love this poster. Also, it tells you the plot in a single image: group of guys in a warehouse and one dude trying to figure out what’s going on. Perfect. And the black and white really makes it pop. I really love this poster.

17. Toy Story 4

Doesn’t this poster, as the kids say, hit you ‘in the feels’? Holy shit, does this immediately conjure up everything about Toy Story and your childhood that you love. And also, without ever saying it or giving it away, you know instinctively from this image — Woody is going away. It’s very simple and very touching. I like that they went the simple route with this poster, because it’s so much more effective than anything else they could have done.

16. Dark Phoenix

It’s just a really beautiful image. I think by now, most people know what the Dark Phoenix saga is about (we all saw the Ratner movie and a lot of us grew up with the cartoon, if not the comics), so it tells you what you need to know from that. But it’s also just a really terrific image on its own. The brightness of the phoenix being enveloped by the darkness with Jean in the middle. It’s beautiful.

 

15. Jojo Rabbit

I love this. It’s so simple. It looks like something posted up on a wall somewhere. Which is the point. Also, because it’s so hard to really sell the film in a single image, they went the route of just letting you trust all the people involved in making it. Which sometimes is just as good. I just really like this as a poster.

14. Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Major kudos to them for taking a really difficult title and turning it into a memorable poster. This is perfect. But also, it tells you the film. The three dots say everything about the plot of this film. Richard Linklater, man. This dude is solid when it comes to making and marketing his films.

13. Spider-Man: Far from Home

I didn’t think I’d be as impressed with this poster as I was. But it’s Spider-Man. So you’re obviously selling it on the mask and the costume. That’s understood. And now, what specific story are we selling? Well, he’s on a European vacation. So bam, the stickers. It’s perfect. You understand exactly the plot of the film in this one image. That, my friends, is a great movie poster.

12. 1917

I just really love how they did this. The big lettering on the numbers and the dudes running into No Man’s Land. That’s it. That’s the film. It’s a tough sell, trying to say, “World War I”, but they somehow make it work. And the size of the lettering clues you to the monumental nature of the war and of the situation. You just sort of instinctively know that time is of the essence, even before you see the tagline at the bottom. It was a tall order, but this one sells you.

11. Abominable

IT’S ACTUALLY FURRY!

How genius is this poster? They made a movie about a yeti so they made an interactive poster with actual fur on it. It’s a gimmick, sure, but what a great gimmick it is.

I’m keeping it out of my top ten because if there weren’t fur on this, I’d just think it was decent. But man, what a genius way to get kids to pay attention to this movie.

And, for adults — you get to stroke the furry wall!

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2 responses

  1. I love your selections. That Frozen II poster is dreamy, and the Glass poster is also my favourite. I prefer the poster to A Hidden Life from your selection since it combines painting – I love when they do that and wish there were more posters of this kind.

    December 12, 2019 at 3:27 pm

  2. Some great choices here, hadn’t seen the Child’s Play one, nice!

    December 13, 2019 at 7:51 am

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