The 30 Best Movie Posters of 2011

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As a brilliant series of collages recently demonstrated, movie posters are prone to cliché. You’ve got your quirky Sundance breakthroughs with their sunny yellow backgrounds, your romantic comedy heroines in their bright red dresses, your freaky horror-movie eye close-up. So it’s always refreshing to see a poster that strays from the norm, whether it be a funny parody, a nostalgic style homage, or a bold still from the movie that piques our curiosity. After the jump, we’ve collected some of our favorite film posters of 2011, from movies both wonderful and terrible.

Another Happy Day

It’s like the Mad Men intro went to the water park.

The Artist

It’s a no-brainer that a film steeped in silent-era nostalgia should have a poster that harkens back to those same aesthetics — but the result is still gorgeous.

Bellflower

You can’t really beat a poster that uses beautiful photography to capture the kind of dramatic explosion that will send viewers scrambling to IMDb to figure out what the hell this movie is actually about.

The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975

Bold. Iconic. Totally ’70s. We want this for our wall.

Bridesmaids

It’s as bright and glossy as any other poster for a mainstream comedy, but it was absolutely brilliant to line up the scowling bridal party along a brick wall like they’re James Dean or The Ramones.

Cold Weather

Ah, minimalism. Overused in unofficial movie posters that go viral on the Internet, but sorely underused in official posters that advertise movies.

Contagion

Clever and appropriately terrifying.

Drive

Another poster that manages to get across the entire aesthetic of the film it’s advertising. Bonus: It’s also a big, soulful portrait of Ryan Gosling.

Hesher

If you make a film about a metal guy and the poster isn’t done in the style of a crumpled-up, homemade metal show flyer, then you don’t deserve to make a film about a metal guy.

Hobo with a Shotgun

A poster that confirms that this film is a B-movie lover’s B-movie.

Into the Abyss

This somber image tells you all you need to know about Werner Herzog’s death-row documentary.

Kaboom

A bright, druggy, ’90s rave-reminiscent poster perfectly captures the vibe of a movie that is basically one long, strange, pleasurable party (at the end of the world).

Madea’s Big Happy Family

We’re still not fans of the Madea movies, but this Black Swan parody deserves a slow clap.

Margin Call

More minimalism, tons of Occupy Wall Street synergy.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

It’s absolutely perfect that Elzabeth Olsen’s face is partially obscured in a poster for a film that slowly delves deeper into her character’s scarred consciousness. There’s a sense of quiet tension in the movie that absolutely comes through in the design.

Meek’s Cutoff

It’s hard to decide which is better: the design of this poster, which draws on the old-fashioned, Wild West color palette without going the tea-stained paper route, or the fact that it shows freaking Michelle Williams brandishing a freaking shotgun.

Melancholia

Crisp, beautiful photography. Ophelia. Kirsten Dunst in her wedding dress. That look on her face. The absolutely true tagline. Masterpiece.

The Muppets

The Muppets couldn’t resist parodying Twilight, and we can’t resist loving them for it.

The Myth of the American Teenager

What can we say? We’re suckers for poster art that looks like it could be ripped out of a coming-of-age graphic novel.

Our Idiot Brother

We think it gets the point across pretty well.

Rum Diary

If only the film had been as clever as the poster.

Shame

Considering what this movie is actually about, the poster could have been horrifying. This is tasteful, but still hints at where Steve McQueen, et al, are going with the film.

Shit Year

The rare purposely sloppy, hand-painted movie poster. There’s a lot of desperation going on here. Is Ellen Barkin supposed to look like a sad clown? We hope so, because we love it.

Submarine

Mod’s not dead! Way to situate us in a time and place.

Tabloid

Obvious, but well executed.

The Tree of Life

There were so many beautiful shots in this film, it would have been impossible to pick just one for the poster. The result is kind of overwhelming, but then, so is the movie.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

This lovely poster is, as you might have guessed, by Chris Ware.

Undocumented

Very effective appropriation of universally recognizable imagery. And the blood just makes it a touch more chilling.

Win Win

We love the color scheme, but we’re also impressed by the way Paul Giammati and Alex Shaffer’s faces just say everything.

Young Adult

A movie poster that will warm the cockles of any early-’90s YA lit fiend’s heart.