Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of the Decade (90-81)
I’ve said it for near ten years now — the movie poster is a lost art. So many of them nowadays are just so bland, and it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to get a poster that truly feels like something special; selling a film on a single, memorable image. Getting you to understand immediately what the film is about while also staying in your mind. It’s hard to remember posters. If I told you offhand to name ten truly memorable posters from this decade off the top of your head, you’d have trouble doing it. And even if you got to ten, chances are some of them are just because the film was so big and widespread that you remember it just because it was so out there.
Anyway, the point of this list was me looking back on my years of going over my favorite posters (and I started this list in 2011, so I’ve done nine years of it officially on the site) and revisiting all the posters from all the years and picking out the ones that I think have held up to me as the best examples of truly strong imagery.
So, with that said, here are my favorite posters from this past decade:
90. Anomalisa (2015)
God, I love this image. You just totally understand the existential ennui of this guy. It’s so hyper real, that moment of catching yourself in the mirror and thinking, “What the fuck happened to us?” That’s the film in a nutshell.
89. Knives Out (2019)
This is a mystery novel cover. And that’s exactly what it needed to be. The magnifying glass (an instant symbol of detective fiction) with the knife tip at the bottom is a perfect image. You understand immediately what this movie is. Rian Johnson, the cast, whodunit. You get it, and you’re in. Sometimes it’s that simple.
88. Shelter (2015)
No one’s seen the film (and yet, Paul Bettany directed it), but this poster has always stuck with me. The absolute starkness of the red and white with the characters almost pitch black just demands that you look at it. And I guess for a movie about homeless people, that’s kinda the point, isn’t it?
87. The Voices (2015)
I mean, that’s pretty perfect, right? Dog, cat, human, death. You get it, right? And the pink just sort of alerts you to the fact that this isn’t a horror movie but more of a dark comedy. Honestly, this is probably the best possible way they could have ever sold a movie with this plot. So I’m in awe of them for that.
86. Killing Them Softly (2012)
This movie has like six great posters, all of which are variations on the theme of America and murder. And that’s kind of the angle the Purge movies take too, but here, it’s more about the American dream/economic angle, which is why they’re all slightly different from those Purge posters. This one just always stuck out most to me, probably because of the metallic red thing going on in the background. But the bullets as stripes on the flag is also a pretty enduring image. This one is right up in your face, which… when you get to the ending of the film… it fits.
85. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2015)
I love the white tree branches bleeding up into her body. It’s perfect. Since this is based (loosely) on the woman who thought Fargo was real and went to Minnesota looking for the hidden money and died. So, as long as you kinda know that’s what it’s about (and even if you don’t, it’s a very memorable image), I think you kinda get the idea of the image. It’s almost as if this call to adventure/the snowy winter of Minnesota is consuming her (and will eventually kill her). Plus there’s a bit of the Red Riding Hood aspect with that red hood, so I think you kinda get it. You don’t necessarily get a sense that it’s darkly funny, but I guess the rabbit and the fact that it’s based on Fargo (which — Coen brothers humor) kind of clue you into that.
84. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
You get it. X-Men, both casts. Splitting Stewart’s face with McAvoy’s was a stroke of genius. You honestly don’t need anything more than this to sell the film. You get it. The First Class cast and the original cast, together. Done. You’re sold.
83. Spiring Breakers (2013)
I bet this was a random picture someone took while on set and then it ended up being the poster. It’s so perfect. The spring break post card from Florida, but this movie’s version of spring break. It’s perfect. It’s everything about this movie in a nutshell. And you know the image is strong, because I deliberately passed up the image of Franco on the water singing Britney Spears on the piano for this.
82. Iris (2015)
I’ve never seen the flower background before, and it’s such an evocative image. You just remember this poster, and it’s really strong work for a documentary. Plus, also — it’s about her, and the poster has her. The flowers are just a great touch to give you an idea of her as a style icon. Especially love the match inside the frames of the glasses.
81. Django Unchained (2012)
Sneaky great. Not sure I really need to explain this one. It’s literally Django unchained. But still — simple, memorable, evocative and in your face. Everything a Quentin movie wants to be.
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