Hollywood, at least from the first six months of the year, appears to have ditched all ideas about creating unique and visually striking ways of selling their product. Of my long list, very few have or will receive a wide release, and most are in fact designs of festival films and independent releases. Some of these films I had honestly never even heard of before (The Color Wheel, Neighbouring Sounds for instance) until I saw their poster designs pop up in one place or another, but I'm glad I know them now since they're bright spots worth highlighting.
The annual film festival in the south of France produced a larger-than-normal amount of quality designs for its competition titles. The finest are surely those for Lee Daniels' The Paperboy (love the pink retro chic), Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone (its title carved over an image of its stars like a love heart into a tree), and Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux (childhood glee at sunrise).
There is also great poster fun to be had with Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, Killing Them Softly, the duel-play of Haneke's Amour, Holy Motors, and You Haven't See Anything. I look forward to what these films will be sold as when it comes to their international releases.
The defining look of posters from 2012 will be "the Instagram effect", an aesthetic that replicates the hyper-filtered look of smart phone app Instagram. Sometimes it doesn't work at all and winds up looking like needless noodling with Photoshop, but sometimes the use of colour, light, shadow, contrast and layering can really make a poster pop when it otherwise would have been little more than a movie still blown up to size. Some of my favourites from 2012 have included ballet documentary First Position and french dramas La Pirogue and Renoir.
As usual, some of the best designs have come from England. Routinely throwing away default designs for their own unique takes, UK quads have the distinct advantage of being able to work within a completely different space to the rest of them that allows allows for concepts that otherwise wouldn't work, as well as truly unique uses of space. There have been some great ones this year including a wonderful use of wide space on Anna Karenina, retro Californian heat with Rampart (a 2012 release in most of the world), plus two beauties for, er, Beauty!
I should mention that, in my travels, I across a designer named Sam Ashby. He designed the tiled poster for Beauty as well as a bunch of BFI re-releases like Days of Heaven and Meet Me in St Louis. I must keep an eye on his work as it's most impressive. England's answer to Jeremy Saunders, perhaps?
No, not actual animated films, but animated posters. This seems to be a quick way to get noticed due to the lack of similar designs, so why not? They can come off as a bit desperate sometimes (I was not a fan of The Savages' poster that everybody loved just because it looked like a cover to The New Yorker or whatever), but titles like Gayby, The Color Wheel, and the horror anthology ABCs of Death are all visually striking and lovingly crafted.
I didn't see Project X or Act of Valor - I am sure they're terrible, but I doubt I'll watch them on DVD to find out - but I liked their posters for what they were. I know many were high on Cabin in the Woods' rotating blocks poster(I'd choose the unofficial Mondo design over it), but if I had to pick a third big budget title to include I would go with the upcoming animated flick, Paranorman. I like it's spunky retro charm through kid-like eyes.
There have been a few others that I've grown particularly fond of, but which don't necessarily fit into any one group. They obviously won't all last until the end of the year, when I do a top 50 list of the year's posters, but for one reason or another they grabbed my attention in a good way and that's more than I can say about
I'm sure I have missed a few from the first half of the year, and we'll try and fix that by the end of the year, but until then... how's it looking from your end?