The importance of a movie's poster cannot be overstated. Sure, a great movie is still great even if the poster is lousy, but a great poster is a calling card. You hang it in your room. It represents the film on DVD and Blu-ray. A good poster for a movie you love forces you to remember why you love it in first place and represents the spirit of the film.
Sadly, most movie posters are lousy, boring at best and just plain ugly at worst. Of course, that makes it all the more important to celebrate the posters that really do work.
This is not a list of the best movies of 2013. This is simply a list of the best posters of 2013. Some represent their movie perfectly. Some actually sell a better, more different movie. But out of the hundreds of movie posters released in 2013, these are the ones that we love the most.
The poster for the controversial remake of 'The Evil Dead' isn't necessarily inspired in its design. After all, "beaten up girl wandering through spooky fog" isn't all that clever or new. However, what the poster lacks in visual panache it more than makes up for in messaging. You see, 'Evil Dead' isn't just a horror movie, it's THE SCARIEST MOVIE EVER and the poster isn't afraid to let you know. It's bold, silly and old fashioned hucksterism at its best.
Like the poster for 'Evil Dead,' the one-sheet for Ti West's festival favorite 'The Sacrament' relies on big, bold messaging to let you know what you're in for. But the approach couldn't be more different. This poster goes old school, looking like a relic from the grindhouse days. It looks less like a movie made in the second decade of the 21st century and more like a sleazy cult classic that horror buffs talk about in hushed tones. The film feels nothing like its poster, but man, this is definitely a way to catch the eye of even the most discerning movie fan.
Still tragically under-seen, 'Zero Charisma' blew audiences away at SXSW and feels poised to become a cult classic over the next few years. Step One to building a fanbase? Show this poster anywhere and everywhere. The poster takes the overly dramatic look of a Frank Frazetta fantasy painting, but instead of a scantily clad woman or muscular warrior, it showcases the film's oddball, anti-social protagonist. 'Zero Charisma' is a small, sad movie, but this kind of bombast is a perfect reflection of main character's brain and it should grab the eye of the film's main audience: geeks and nerds.
How do you sell a documentary about one of the best films never made? You make a poster that sells that never-made movie. A smash hit at festivals, 'Jodorowsky's Dune' tells the insane and tragic story of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's failed attempt to bring Frank Herbert's 'Dune' to the big screen. Since not a single frame of the movie was shot, all we have is a lot of art and our imaginations. This beautiful, colorful poster does what the film it represents does: it ignites our fantasies and makes us wonder what could have been. Since documentary films tend to be pretty weak on the poster front, it's bit of a revelation.
As you've already seen with the 'Evil Dead' and 'The Sacrament' one-sheets, 2013 was an excellent year for horror posters. However, they're both topped by 'You're Next,' which had one of the most clever posters in the history of the genre. While most of the film's marketing attempted to sell it as a grim and gritty 'Saw'-like thriller, the poster below hints at the film's wicked humor and keen genre deconstruction. The real star of any home invasion movie is the house where it all takes place and this wonderful poster decides to put its real main character front and center.
'Upstream Color' is one of the best films of 2013, but it's also one of the most obtuse and difficult. How do you sell a movie that goes out of its way to keep its basic concept a mystery? Simple: you sell the most accessible part of the movie. The romance. Amidst all of the quasi-sci-fi happenings, 'Upstream Color' is a beautifully romantic movie featuring a truly realistic relationship. This poster doesn't tell you what the movie is about, but if you claim that you can find a more gorgeously photographed depiction of love on a movie poster this year, you're lying.
There's no getting around it: most of the posters for 'The Wolverine' are atrociously photoshopped garbage. But the first teaser poster? Holy cow, it's gorgeous. Well aware that virtually every moviegoer in the world is familiar with Hugh Jackman's clawed mutant superhero, this poster relies on his iconic silhouette and nothing more, selling the Japanese setting with beautiful brush art. It's simple, it's classy and it's different. Superhero movie posters should take a lesson from this.
Every one of Lars Von Trier's films has been audacious, but 'Nymphomaniac' is the first to feel audacious by design. The film's marketing hasn't been shy about its incredibly adult subject matter, starting with a series of character posters depicting the film's large, star-studded cast at the moment of orgasm. Since we can't give this slot to nine different posters, we have to give it to the poster that collects each the cast's O-faces into one 'Brady Bunch'-style collage of depravity. No movie poster this year wants to creep you out more and let's face it, few sell their movie much better.
'Escape From Tomorrow'
If there was one 2013 movie poster that manages to be more provocative than 'Nymphomaniac,' it's 'Escape From Tomorrow.' Famously filmed guerilla-style on Disney theme park property, this dark and twisted film uses the "Happiest Place on Earth" as a back-drop for a tale of depravity, madness and general weirdness. The film pokes at the Disney machine, so the poster follows suit, depicting a very familiar glove (drenched in blood!) and a very familiar font. It's a testament to Disney's marketing team that we immediately recognize these images, but it's a bigger testament to the folks selling 'Escape From Tomorrow' since that they had the nerve to re-appropriate them so blatantly.
'We Gotta Get Out of This Place'
'We Gotta Get Out of This Place' is an old-fashioned little noir, a southern fried slice of pulp storytelling that feels like it escaped from a classic '60s crime novel. And the poster could be the cover to that book. Drawn by Eisner award winning comic artist Sean Phillips (of 'Criminal' fame), this gorgeous one-sheet is the kind of art that demands to be framed on your wall. It also demands that you see the movie, which is, you know, the point of these things in the first place. With so many posters resorting to lazy photoshop, work like this is more striking than ever.