Monday, January 4, 2010

The Best (and Worst) Posters of 2009

We here are Stale Popcorn (ie Me) loooove movie posters. They can be gorgeous, hideous, hilarious, frightening or arousing and I always find something to point out. As 2009 has now drawn to a closer it is time to look back of the past year of film artwork and single out those that rung my bell so the speak. Very soon there will be a look over the entire decade - I already know what's #1 so that exciting part of list making is a dead end - but for now we are focusing on the year that was 2009. A year when, thankfully, big empty white space just wasn't as prominent as usual - it is something that I am predictable to a fault over - but with less of that came more of those annoying stripey posters and more "film still surrounded by nothing" designs. These people really need some new defaults.

I'm not doing a worst list again because after that first year I realised there are just far too many bad ones, but I hope you enjoy the extra fun categories towards the end. To catch up on previous years you can click here and here. Let's proceed, shall we?

(click on all images to enlarge)
(all images courtesy of IMP and MPDb)

10. Broken Embraces

Sure, this idea has been done before, but when you have Pedro Almodovar directing Penelope Cruz in a film noir I think an exception can be made. The colours scream "ALMODOVAR!" don't they?

9. Taxidermia

I saw this film years ago, but it only came out in America in 2009 and with it came this wonderful design. Anyone who has seen Palfi's film will know that you need a stomach made of stone just to sit through it, and the idea of making art out of something disgusting is all on show on this poster. "A twisted slice of life" indeed!

8. Julie & Julia

This poster makes me sing "Lean on me / When you're not strong" and so on. As delicately done as the eggs on the poster, this poster is just on the right side of cutesy twee and I actually like that "Based on two true stories" tagline. So much so that I can forgive that "adult woman's romantic comedy font".

7. Thirst

Because you can't say it doesn't... grab your attention. And then thrust it in your face!

6. The Brothers Bloom

Almost too overwhelmed by its own design, this poster thankfully has a purpose to its intricate artsy drawing motif instead of just wanting to appear hip. And I like that it continues its idea into the border and the credits, which some key art designers seem to just forget about.

5. Moon

Hypnotic, isn't it?

4. A Christmas Carol

I'm not sure if they used this design at all in English-speaking countries - I only ever saw that annoying one with Jim Carrey flying - but I think this German design (it is German isn't it?) is by far better and does a great job at selling the movie as the darker film it (apparently) is. If this were a horror movie I'd think it was even better since I actually get a bit of a chill from it, don't you?

3. Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire

Definitely the film with the most excellent posters (there is also this, this and not least of all this), but it was this (literally) shattering design that floored me the most. And for a movie poster to so bluntly push the film's sexual abuse angle is quite shocking.

2. The Girlfriend Experience

And I still don't even know what it's meant to "be". What is it that makes this poster for Steven Soderbergh's low-budget movie starring a porn star so... alluring? It's certainly not Sasha Grey, that's for sure. Is it the polka dots? It's gotta be the polka dots! Right? Unless I'm forgetting something, this definitely has the best tagline of the year: "See it with someone you ****". Amazing.

1. Antichrist

And not just because I actually sorta helped make it famous, but because it’s just so brilliant in idea and so artfully executed. If you even have the slightest idea of the film's big... er, moment, then you know why the idea of the scissors clamping shut in order to the heads to kiss is a leg-crossing, but altogether ballsy, idea to portray on a movie poster.

And let me tell ya, there's nothing quite like seeing a whole row of this design plastered over a wall on Spencer Street here in Melbourne! I had to take a photo. Yes, those are my fingers. I was taking the photo from inside a tram.

Notice how the second from the left has been torn down by someone as a keepsake?

Best Rip-Off:
Black Dynamite

Blaxpoitation at its finest.

Dreamiest Use of Colour:
Bright Star (Aus)

I saw this hanging up at a cinema the other day nearly 4 metres high and, gosh, it really is dreamy.

Best Saul Bass Impersonation:
Three Blind Mice

Although there is another poster out there floating about on which I am quoted!

Best Poster Series:
The Hangover

And all the others too! Runner-Up being District 9.

Best Upgrade

For turning those boring posters into one that actually makes sense in the form of this Asian design that apes off of Sgt Pepper.

Best Use of Indie Money:
Breaking Upwards

Sometimes working on a budget of two cents can product better looking work than millions.

Worst Rip-Off:
Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Because ripping off one of the best posters of all time for a Madea movie just seems so bizarre. Runner-ups include Everybody Wants to be Italian, My Life in Ruins and Fame (it's as if Coca-Cola and Apple made a musical about overly enthusiastic American Idol contestants.

Worst Trend:
Notepads and drawings (According to Greta, Stay Cool, Away We Go, I Love You Beth Cooper, etc)

Because nothing says annoying quite like this! It was fun a few years ago, but not anymore.

Unscariest Poster for a "Scary Movie":
The Haunting in Connecticut

I don't even wanna know.

Worst Photoshopping:
Nine and My One and Only

Considering the latter got a barely there release and I don't even think many people know of its existence I can almost accept the bad photoshopping, but there's no excuse for Nine. None at all. Previously written about here and here.

The "My, What a Big Floating Head You Have" Award for Excellence in Big Floating Heads:
Natalie Imbruglia in Closed for Winter

She released the best album of 2009, but also one of the worst movies. The poster was no better.

Worst "Empty Space" Poster:
Did You Hear About the Morgans?

What makes this movie even worse is that, having now seen it, the event portrayed in the poster doesn't even happen in the movie. Gah!

Funniest "WTF?" Moment

For real? No, seriously, ARE THEY FOR REAL?!? It's just so... wtf?

Worst False Advertising:
H2, For not actually being a direct-to-DVD movie despite what the poster implies, and;
Obsessed, for giving the impression that this movie isn't just an excuse to watch Beyonce whoop some white girl ass (and that her father was a producer, natch!)

Most Unappealing Poster:
Crank 2: High Voltage

Ya know, normally I'd think the idea of Jason Statham appearing anywhere (especially a movie poster) without a shirt would be a pleasant thing, but not here. Grotesque, ugly and repulsive. Blegh!

The "This Deserves Better" Award
Nine, The Road, A Single Man and Me & Orson Welles

I haven't seen any of these movies, but I can't imagine them being any worse than their posters. That three of them a Weinstein Company releases is quite telling.

The Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience

To think I wrote this blog piece on 9 January and it has held up all year long as the worst piece of drivel advertising I have seen all year. I like that the winning answer of the poll I ran at the time was "They're worse than herpes". Just dreadful in every imaginable way.

The Second Annual Showgirls Honourary Award for Brilliance in the Face of Ineptitude in Poster Design:
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Why oh why was the poster in which Nicolas Cage waves a gun in the face of two old ladies (and an iguana) banned? Sure, it shows threatening violence and that's a big no no, but is it really any more offensive than the Jonas Brothers using their guitars as representation of their penis? I think not! Meanwhile look at the gun on that second poster! Yowza! I think he's happy to see me.


Groogleplex said...

What do you think of the Legion poster (as seen on the Apple trailer webpage at this moment). I had to click to zoom in, but those weapons photoshopped into the hands of that angel is probably the worst I have seen in a while.

Joel said...

Nice work.
Its a shame they didn't use that Three Blind Mice poster for the dvd cover, which is pretty appalling (and the reason no one will touch it at the video store i work at)

Matt Riviera said...

Here's an early contender for Worst of 2010.

Alice said...

Great list. I must say I've learned a lot about film poster appreciation from your blogs, so thank ye!

I thought An Education might make the cut? Though from memory, you weren't a fan of the Australian one sheet.

Totally agree about the dreaminess of Bright Star. I want this framed and on my wall, stat.

Glenn Dunks said...

Matt, two giant floating heads are better than one, which is worse than none. If that makes sense.

Joel, I wasn't even aware Three Blind Mice was out on DVD already. Christ. Bad dvd cover art and all, true.

Alice, I wasn't not a fan I just wasn't a fan. It's... there. Nothing more. And thanks for the compliments!

Groogleplex, I haven't seen it. Will try to seek it out though.

Sam White said...

Please please Mr Dunks can you comment on this draft poster so they don't go with such an awful photoshop composite as their actual theatrical poster, as at least you have some credibility in this area!!!!

Glenn Dunks said...

Sam, done and done. Yikes.

Alice said...

Wowsers, thanks for the heads up, Sam! I seconded Glenn's thoughts, and hope to rally more people to comment on the draft. Yikes indeed!

Lucky said...

(500) Days of Summer had really original posters (including one with 500 photos of Zooey Deschanel), and I also thought this one of Taking Woodstock was good:

Glenn said...

Lucky, I liked the posters for (500) Days of Summer and wrote about it here. Just didn't make the top 10.