Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of the Decade (60-51)
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:
60. Southpaw (2015)
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a poster that recreates a fight poster or a flyer or an advertisement or what have you. So that’s a lot of why I continue to love this poster. I like the idea that you could put this on your wall and it could look like a real fight poster but is also a movie ad. I also like the yellow spotlight that also makes Gyllenhaal pop forward along with the complement of the blood red. It’s just a really cool-looking poster.
59. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
I thought long and hard about that Operazione Dyn-O-Mite! poster, but that’s something that only works after you see the film, and I think they only released those after the film came out. But still, that’s wonderful. Jumping off what I said with the previous poster, I like when you can put something on your wall that feels like it could be real but is also a movie poster. But this is really the one for me. That Star Wars/70s-style collage, which perfectly captures the spirit of the film — the giant sprawling ensemble. He gives you the entire feeling of the film in this one collage.
58. The Tree of Life (2011)
I love collages like this. You never see that on a poster, and, for a film that’s both a story of one person’s childhood (which sort of feels like a typical all-American type childhood) and the story of the history of the universe, this collage of images feels like a perfect choice. It’s basically just a sampling of beautiful Terrence Malick imagery that you’re gonna get. And, as I said, this is very much up my alley, so I’m way more likely to go for this than others would.
57. Fury (2014)
I think you get it. A man and his tank. The look on his face tells you everything you need to know about the film. War. War is hell. Done. Simplicity is usually the best option.
56. Men, Women and Children (2014)
I love Jason Reitman’s posters. Everything about how his films are marketed feels far and above most other people’s efforts in this area. This film almost nobody remembers or even bothered to see. And, in a way, it might be his weakest film. It’s basically Crash but for social networking. There’s a really nice cast of young actors and it’s a solid enough movie, but this poster is quite good. The coloring is quite good, and I love the idea that every person is all on their phones and then there’s the two people at the center who are just present and there for one another. You get that image, even if it’s not really what the central plot of the film is. But as an image, it’s really strong and you understand it completely. Plus the way the poster is designed makes it stand out as not being the same old boring nonsense as everything else, which I greatly appreciate.
55. Hands of Stone (2016)
Stark red and black is always a good combination, but what makes this for me is the red bloodlines/cracks in the armor of the black glove. That’s the touch that turns this from good to great. And the ‘no mas, no surrender’ tagline is perfect if you know about Duran. On a base level, though, it’s hard not to see this and not be drawn to it/remember this image.
54. The Martian (2015)
I’ve noticed a recurring motif among posters of confronting the viewer. A lot of posters have the actors’ faces on them and, in a way, most posters nowadays are selling themselves on who’s in them more than anything else. Individual character posters have become the norm. But sometimes a poster can take its star power and tell you the plot of the film at the same time. Like this one. The poster is literally just Matt Damon in a spacesuit. That’s it. But, the title plus the tagline, and the fact that he’s looking directly at you gives you the plot of the movie. Martian, ‘Bring Him Home’ — he’s stuck on Mars. This acts as a call to arms, as if going to see the movie is going to help achieve that. It’s the equivalent of an Uncle Sam poster. It’s a really deceptively simple design that’s doing so much more than you might think at first glance.
53. The Spectacular Now (2013)
I love that the trees are the majority of the image. This feels like something they came up with on the day: “let’s use the row of trees and put them on the car”, and they probably took this while setting up the scene and it became the poster. But it’s such a strong image. The trees alone just make you feel warm and good. Plus, trees are always a metaphor for growth and life. And so you’ve got them in this small part of the frame, but the inference is that their love is growing, from a seed into a tall tree into maybe a forest. It’s a savvy image that means more than maybe it seems. But even if you don’t want to read into that, it’s just a really nice image to look at.
52. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
I love this poster. The old, worn, leather wallet look. It could have been just that color background, but instead they made it into cracked leather, which is perfect, since it’s a western, and that’s basically what the genre is. Plus you have all six stories/strands coming out of the title, and each image is what each story is. It’s a really cool poster, and the Coens are always really terrific with their marketing.
51. Baby Driver (2017)
I do love when they can explain a film in a single image. The car as a bullet, being shot out of the gun — you get it. You get the movie. Getaway driver, crime — it’s all there. It’s images like this that make me feel less shitty about the dying art of movie posters.
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