Looking Back: Ethan Picks the Best Official Movie Posters from 2013
by Ethan Anderton
December 26, 2013
As we continue wrapping up 2013, it's time to take a different look at the movies from this year. We've already look at some of the Best Performances of 2013 (for both actors and actresses) and some of the best scenes of the year. Now it's time to dive into poster artwork used to hype these movies up. I've made a list of my choices for what I believe to be the best movie posters of the year. While they're most easily described as just another form of marketing for a studio trying to get an audience into a theater, there are some movie posters that are as beautiful as works of art, and many should be considered as such. So what made the cut?
Just so we're clear, I've only decided to consider posters that were officially released by a studio for a film hitting theaters within the year 2013. Therefore you won't find any posters for films from 2014, even if those posters were released this year. So you won't find this bad ass poster for Captain America: The Winter Soldier on the list, but it might end up on the list of 2014's best movie posters. The posters chosen can be foreign posters, and may be a little bigger than your standard 27"x40" movie poster size, but you won't find unofficial or fan-made posters here (or anything from Mondo, despite the high quality work). Here we go!
#15. Computer Chess
Designed like an old school 80s poster (to go along with decade in which the film is set) with a style that also calls back to old video games, this is a retro poster through and through. What makes this even more authentic to the time it's attempting to pay tribute to is the faux creases and wrinkles, as if the poster was folded away somewhere for years.
#14. Grudge Match
It would have been a shame if Warner Bros. didn't take a cue from the familiar boxing posters of decades past for this comedy starring Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro), so we're thankful they commissioned someone to put this one together. Of course, we wish it was possible to see these two boxing legends (even though one is fictional) go toe-to-toe in their younger days instead of today.
#13. Side Effects
Most of the time, people don't ever bother to read the credits at the bottom of a poster. It's actually a wonder that they're still included since it just seems to be tradition more than anything. However, the unique presentation of a couple names on this poster for Steven Soderbergh's pharmaceutical thriller actually calls attention to the credits. It goes without saying that the use of a prescription pad to convey information is a clever marketing tactic, and much better than most posters.
#12. The Last Stand
With an illustrated style that feels like a comic book cover and a 90s action movie thrown into one, this poster is far superior to the movie that should have marked Arnold Schwarzenegger's triumphant return to the big screen. The Terminator kinda looks like Duke Nukem, and now that we think about it, maybe that computer game should finally be brought to the big screen.
Remember Highlights magazine? The twisted branches of this black and white, seemingly hand drawn poster looks like the scavenger hunts that used to occupy childrens' time in doctors' offices. There's tons of little pieces and objects that play an integral part of the story littered throughout, and it's just a gorgeous piece of work.
#10. Pain & Gain
No need for Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson to show their faces and big muscles with this great teaser poster for the meathead driven dark comedy from Michael Bay. These big buckets of supplements are ridiculous in their own right, which makes them perfect for pushing this equally outlandish true story that actually makes a tame little action thriller from the man who brought us Transformers and Armageddon.
#9. The Heat
Calling back to the cop action flicks of the 80s, this should have been the theatrical poster for Paul Feig's buddy cop comedy, but it wasn't given nearly enough prominence in the marketing campaign despite being the best poster created for the film starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. However, there aren't nearly as many explosions in the film as there are in this nice illustrated work.
#8. Star Trek Into Darkness
Some people didn't like this poster because it was similar to the teaser poster for The Dark Knight Rises with the crumbling buildings. But the addition of Benedict Cumberbatch standing in the rubble of destruction in the shape of the Starfleet logo hints at the plot of the film, whereas the aforementioned teaser poster was just pretty to look at.
#7. Berbarian Sound Studio
You may not have heard of Berberian Sound Studio (watch the trailer right here), but this poster should get your attention. Using a retro photograph scheme and a layout inspired by Rorschach tests, the face of Toby Jones mashing up with sound equipment serves as a bit of a creepy juxtaposition. You should also check out the movie (it's on Netflix Instant), because it's a special little thriller that deserves more attention.
Really, it's the entire series of teaser posters for Lars Von Trier's risque and raunchy drama, but Stellar Skarsgard has the most entertaining face of sexual ecstasy. But the entire series of posters that includes Uma Thurman, Shia LaBeouf and more is just a jarring and attention-grabbing line-up. This is the best utilization of the annoying trend of character posters this year.
#5. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The first of two posters from the stellar sequel to The Hunger Games, this looks like a painting that would be hanging in a museum somewhere in the fictional world of the sci-fi series long after the revolution is over. The use of the clouds to form the wings of the mockingjay behind Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is very pretty, and it serves as a nice tease of the symbol that Katniss becomes following her defiance of The Capitol.
#4. Escape from Tomorrow
If this wasn't made for a movie, it would be a surreal piece of art in some kind of installation criticizing commercialism and the Walt Disney corporation. Using the famous Disney trams and Epcot center to help shape a wild eye along with the fairly unnerving images of two girls running in fear. Though the film delivers on the promise of oddities in Disneyworld, the film doesn't live up to the hype surrounding the indie film shot secretly in the theme park.
#3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
It's a shame that this was the final poster release after the second installment of The Hobbit trilogy hit the big screen, but we imagine Peter Jackson wanted to keep Smaug in shadows until a lot of the fans saw him in theaters. And for those who saw the end of the film (or have read the books), this is just the beginning of the dragon's mischief for the people of Middle-Earth.
#2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
As the second poster on this list for the sequel to The Hunger Games, this one is the superior. Why? Well, I like the idea that this poster could easily exist in the world of The Capitol, hyping up the Victory Tour that Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) must embark upon before entering the arena all over again. The poster is big, showy, and exactly what people of The Capitol would be excited by.
#1. The Wolverine
When we did our list of the best posters in 2012, we knew this would end up being on our list this year, but we didn't think it would be at the top. This is one of the most simple designs of the year, but for fans, it was insight into where Wolverine would head for his next adventure. Not only does it literally paint Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as a warrior, but it also hints at this ties to the Japanese culture and the respect he will come to have for their ways (not to mention his confrontation with a Japanese soldier from his past). What really makes it is the faux texture of the paper (though a lucky few were given this print on real parchment).
If you aren't completely satisfied with our picks for the best posters of this year, here are a few other lists:
- Empire Magazine chooses The 50 Best Posters Of 2013
- Vulture on 9 Lessons Learned From the Best and Worst Movie Posters of 2013
- MUBI's Adrian Curry lists 10 of The Best Movie Posters of 2013
- Flavorwire's Jason Bailey picks another set of The 30 Best Movie Posters of 2013
Well those are my top choices for the best posters of 2013. Surely many of you have some different ideas and favorite posters, so feel free to sound off in the comments below. Thanks to our friends at IMPAwards for the inspiration and the images! As for finishing our recap of this year, check out our other posts on the best performances by an actor and best performances by an actress, along with the best scenes of 2013. Thoughts on the Best Official Movie Posters of 2013? What are your favorite 2013 posters?