The art of the poster is more powerful than ever, with more movie studios taking risks and turning to independent artists for their designs. A poster can make or break a movie before it even hits theaters, and this year certainly saw a couple of questionable design decisions that colored our perception (Gaspar Noé is banned from using gooey fonts for eternity). In the meantime, we’re celebrating the best of 2015’s poster art — the illustrations, indie artworks, and fine photographs that captured our imaginations. Also included are several upcoming films that debuted their poster designs this year. Feel free to name your personal favorites, below.
Iris, Albert Maysles
As colorful as its subject, the fashion icon Iris Apfel.
Beasts of No Nation, Cary Joji Fukunaga
The character posters for Beasts of No Nation were appropriately confrontational.
The Duke of Burgundy, Peter Strickland
Some of Julian House’s alternative artwork for The Duke of Burgundy:
The starting point was the posters for films by Jess Franco/Jean Rollin, euro arthouse/exploitation. Also, a big influence on both myself and Peter are the classic Czech and Polish film posters of the 60s-70s. Along the way I was looking at 70s softcover or vaguely occult romantic paperback book covers. Their hazy, double exposed soft focus imagery has its own dreamlike quality, seeming to exist not in the past but some strange parallel world, geographically and temporally unfixed. I’m always aiming for a naggingly half familiar image, something that sits in a weird place between a reference from the past and something unknown, new. I think that’s what Peter achieves in his films, things that exist in their own universe.
Digging for Fire, Joe Swanberg
Love & Mercy, Bill Pohlad
American Ultra, Nima Nourizadeh
Bone Tomahawk, S. Craig Zahler
A throwback to ’60s and ’70s-era westerns.
The Editor , Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy
Phantom City Creative captured the humor and horror of The Editor.
The Overnight, Patrick Brice
Mistress America, Noah Baumbach
The spirit of the city and adventures of friendship.
The Assassin, Hsiao-Hsien Hou
“Above all, he never loses sight of the fact that the bodies he moves so fluidly and intuitively through space are human, and remain so even in death,” writes Variety of the Taiwanese-Hong Kong martial arts film.
Carol, Todd Haynes
Goodnight Mommy, Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
Mondo debuted a creepy alt poster for this Austrian horror tale.
Knight of Cups, Terrence Malick
One and Two, Andrew Droz Palermo
Palaceworks (aka Erik Buckham) also created the Assassin poster and It Follows one-sheet (named later in the list).
Macbeth, Justin Kurzel
A twist on Shakespeare’s psychological lens. (However, there were too many “characters in the head” posters this year.)
Dope, Rick Famuyiwa
Queen of Earth , Alex Ross Perry
In the Heart of the Sea , Ron Howard
I Am Big Bird, Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker
An affectionate portrait.
Slow Learners, Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce
Sicario, Denis Villeneuve
Mala Mala, Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles
Loud and proud.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
An eccentric poster for an eccentric movie.
Chi-Raq, Spike Lee
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Spike Lee
Felt, Jason Banker
Banker’s poster captures the visceral trauma of his bleak story — and it’s an innuendo that makes sense for the movie.
Entertainment, Rick Alverson
Seymour: An Introduction, Ethan Hawke
The Revenant , Alejandro González Iñárritu
Blackbird, Patrik-Ian Polk
Louder Than Bombs, Joachim Trier
Stung, Benni Diez
Do I Sound Gay?, David Thorpe
Faults, Riley Stearns
As its poster suggests, Faults is not what it seems.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams
The Drew Struzan Force Awakens commemorative posters also captured the nostalgia of the series.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Stanley Nelson
The Tribe, Miroslav Slaboshpitsky
The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino
The End of the Tour, James Ponsoldt
It Follows, David Robert Mitchell
Poster artwork by Akiko Stehrenberger (bottom) and Palaceworks (top).
River of Grass, Kelly Reichardt
A rerelease of Kelly Reichardt’s first film, 1993’s River of Grass, will be out next spring from Oscilloscope Laboratories.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, David Zellner
The movie previously made the festival rounds, but if you weren’t in New York City this year you probably missed Zellner’s colorful drama.
Darling, Mickey Keating
Darling debuted at Austin’s Fantastic Fest this year.
High-Rise, Ben Wheatley
Another highly anticipated film in 2015, J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel High-Rise gets an adaptation from Ben Wheatley (and hopefully a theatrical release date soon).
The Witch, Robert Eggers
All the hails for The Witch out February 26, 2016.
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos
The Palme d’Or-nominated film from Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos doesn’t have a US theatrical date yet, but the movie played AFI and the New York Film Festival this year.
Mavis, Jessica Edwards
From IMDb (coming in 2016): “Her family group, the Staple Singers, inspired millions and helped propel the civil rights movement with their music. After 60 years of performing, legendary singer Mavis Staples’ message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.”
One More Time / When I Live My Life Over Again (original title), Robert Edwards
New Christopher Walken in 2016.
The Forest, Jason Zada
Jason Zada’s horror tale set in a Japanese forest, starring Game of Thrones‘ Natalie Dormer, is out January 8, 2016.