Like the film, the poster is a storybook brought to life. Artist Michael Gaskell created the hand-painted beauty.
Zero Dark Thirty
This was a great year for minimalist poster fans, and the starkness of this design for Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden manhunt thriller is fitting.
The tagline on its own is chilling, but when paired with this imagery, the poster equally inspires wonder.
We love the Eadward Muybridge-esque use of photo stills. It lends a dark conceptual twist to the art for this documentary about French confidence man, Frédéric Bourdin, who impersonated a missing 13-year-old boy.
The poster for Chan-wook Park’s fable-thriller is wrapped in a vine of images, some beautiful, others eerie — like the events surrounding the appearance of an estranged, enigmatic man (Matthew Goode) who claims to be family to India (Mia Wasikowska) and her mother (Nicole Kidman). Although the poster appeared on scene this year, the film actually debuts in 2013.
More minimalism, bloody without being gory, and blazed into our minds until Christmas day.
The power of beards (even when shredded).
The found footage horror flick had its spooky moments, but the VHS-heavy skull poster truly stole the show. It’s also a nice, little nod to the poster for Visiting Hours.
Beauty is Embarrassing
Set designer and puppet master Wayne White — whose credits include Pee-wee’s Playhouse, The Weird Al Show, and the videos for Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” — is the subject of this documentary and the surreal, expressionist portrait that goes with it.
The American Scream
A delightful, hand-drawn poster by Johnny Sampson for a documentary about DIY home haunters.
This is a character poster by Dave Banks for Martin McDonagh’s movie, featuring struggling (and questionably sane) writer Marty (Colin Farrell), made designy and stylish.
All the posters for PTA’s The Master were fairly interesting, but the painted Rorschach inkblot design featured in the Turkish version won us over completely.
Life of Pi
The promotional posters for Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel felt like gorgeous watercolor paintings. It’s a lovely complement to Lee’s breathtaking cinematography.
Killing Them Softly
We weren’t fans of the first round of posters for the movie, one featuring oversized text and Brad Pitt with a gun, but the folks behind the Killing Them Softly artwork made good with this minimal take on the mob enforcer movie. Still jarring, but less confrontational and obvious.
Simple, effective, and lets Léos Carax’s bizarre and mesmerizing treatise on film (and so much more) speak for itself.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
This says everything.
The Cabin in the Woods
Inspired by M. C. Escher’s iconic lithograph, Relativity, and far more interesting than the floating house poster, this Mondo alternative by Phantom City Creative was widely used to promote the movie and was praised by director Drew Goddard.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
It beautifully captures the film’s magical realist elements and invites curiosity.
Only the Young
“I got involved in being your friend, and now I’m stuck in your black hole, and you couldn’t get rid of me if you tried.” This hand-painted on wood poster is from artist and filmmaker, James P. Gannon.
The poster for the 3D stop-motion animated horror-comedy has shades of Juxtapoz.
How to Survive a Plague
A reminder that simplicity can still be emotional.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Remember when people were talking about how magical this poster was and not ranting about the film’s high frame rate? We miss that.
Les Misérables , Lincoln , Hitchcock
We’re slightly cheating on this one, but we have a good reason. The trio of posters reveals striking transformations: Daniel Day-Lewis into the bearded Abraham Lincoln, Isabelle Allen into the young Cossette (bringing the classic and familiar Broadway poster illustration to life) and Anthony Hopkins into Hitchcock. They aren’t necessarily uniquely designed, but the aha factor was nicely considered.
Casa de mi Padre
Since you had no idea this movie even existed in 2012, enjoy the poster’s cool spaghetti western throwback style, with random explosions for your viewing pleasure.
Instagram vibes, but you can really feel the glare of that salmon-colored Florida sun and the heated exchanges taking place.
Sound of My Voice
The film popped up at a few fests in 2011, but made its theatrical debut in 2012 with this intriguing, wrinkled poster illustrating the strange hand signals cult members shared in the smartly unnerving thriller.
Elegant and dangerous. The art encapsulates everything about David Cronenberg’s brooding drama.
Cool, classy, and quintessential Bond.
An ethereal view of the blissfully unaware Jane (played by Dree Hemingway — yes those Hemingways) in Sean Baker’s indie sleeper about two women in the Valley whose worlds collide.
The Dark Knight Rises
Since there were a bazillion posters released for the closing chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it was hard deciding on our favorite. We think this one offers mystery in the form of the villainous Bane’s hulking back (before we knew he would wind up being a somewhat useless character in the film), finality (the cracked mask and the tag line), and the gritty darkness fans have come to adore in Nolan’s movies.