This past Sunday’s 82nd Academy Awards got me to thinking about the art of the movie poster. Since movie making has begun, the movie poster has been a creative way to showcase what a movie is about, in order to entice people into going to to see it. Times have changed and so have the technologies and the ways that movies are marketed, but I would argue that the movie poster is still a valid and much seen piece of creative executed to promote a movie.
I thought it would be an interesting exercise to take a look at some of the best picture nominees of this year and see how their movie posters stack up against one another with a rating system that I started while writing this.
Starting with this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
The first thing that struck me with this poster is the starkness of it, there is something kind of beautiful about the barren grey background. This is offset by the heavy red lettering of the movie title. I have been noticing a trend of moving the credits that have traditionally been at the bottom of a poster and integrating it more with the overall design. If I had not seen the movie, I would have no idea what the person in the poster was doing nor would I have understood the term “hurt locker.” But I do get the gist that it is a war movie, and that war is indeed unpleasant. Rating 3.5/5
I saw marketing for this movie everywhere and had absolutely no idea what it was for. It looked like an ad for a video game or an animated movie. After seeing it, it was neither, but think that even though the main image is graphically well done, the poster did not relate well to the movie. Rating 2/5
In a word, masculine. What man doesn’t want to see the good guys fighting the bad guys led by Brad Pitt with some beautiful women in the background holding guns? The design has a bit of a 40′s look to it but with a modern twist to it. And it wouldn’t be a Tarantino movie without some blood which is aptly captured with the background strip of red. I thought overall it was very well done and gave a pretty good idea as to what to expect. Rating 4/5
This poster was hands down the best of the bunch. I thought that the illustration was amazing and captured the essence of what the movie was about. I liked the boldness of the red dress contrasting with the blackness of the figure’s skin and white clothing. My favorite part was the cleverly used Precious necklace which is a reference to urban living (made famous by Sex and the City). There really is nothing that I don’t like about this. Rating 5/5
After initially seeing the trailer and movie posters for this I had absolutely no interest in seeing it. But I did go and will be the first to admit that it was amazing. And I wish I could say as much for the poster. I think what bothers me the most is the typography, the papyrus font is one of the most reviled fonts by designers. Part of this has to do with the fact that it is the go-to font for most restaurants and it tries to be more than what it is, a mediocre default decorative font. If James Cameron is going to drop $300 million, is it too much to ask that he either purchase a much less overused font or have one made specially for this? The poster is a close up of a blue female face with a slightly come hither look, with “From the Director of Titanic” being the only other text, not terribly engaging nor interesting. Maybe it is the cropping that bothers me. Rating 1/5
And if you haven’t had enough movie posters yet, here is a very humorous tongue and cheek look at this years nominees posters.