Looking Back: Ethan's Top 8 Favorite Official Movie Posters of 2011

December 26, 2011

Favorite Posters of 2011

With under a week until the end of 2011, and with several retrospective videos behind us, it's time to take a closer look at the movies from this year and the work they yielded. Kicking off this week's venture back through the films of 2011, 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 just as beautiful as works of art, and many of them should be considered as such. And so here's my choices for the 8 Best Movie Posters from 2011.

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 2011. Therefore you won't find any posters for films from 2012, even if those posters were released this year. They can be foreign posters, and may be a little bigger than your standard 27×40 movie poster size, but you won't find any unofficial posters here. Some of my favorite unofficial pieces from this year include Mondo's Captain America posters from Olly Moss & Tyler Stout and Matt Owen's simple but stellar poster for Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, but here's my real top list:

#8. The Muppets

The Muppets

Much like my pick for last year's Toy Story 3 poster in the #10 spot, I love this one because it's fun, bright, colorful and has plenty of familiar faces of all our favorite Muppet characters from decades past.

#7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

A fitting teaser poster for the conclusion of the franchise that started when Lord Voldemort attempted to kill The Boy Who Lived in Godric's Hollow, this one has the duality of good vs. evil, a prominent plot device and shows that Harry and Voldemort are going to finish this the way they started it. Together.

#6. Hobo with a Shotgun

Hobo with a Shotgun

Reminiscent of the exploitation film posters from years ago, this worn, vintage poster for Jason Eisener's outrageous, gory comedy is pretty damn great. Rutger Hauer looks dirty and menacing and the rest of the poster just promises absolute chaos which is exactly what the film delivers.

#5. The Ides of March

The Ides of March

Another poster that uses duality for the focus, this one is perfect in displaying the thematic elements of the political storyline involving our two main characters played by George Clooney and Ryan Gosling. There are two sides to the coin in the campaign at the heart of the story, but do they come together just as this poster illustrates? Watch the film to find out.

#4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The most daring thing a poster can do is not feature the faces of big name talent, let alone their names on the poster. This fantastic one sheet does both and instead calls attention to what really drives the film: the super-smart, genetically engineered ape Caesar who will lead a revolution like no one has ever seen.

#3. The Devil's Double

The Devil's Double

Very bright and shiny is the way to go sometimes, and this poster does just that. Taking the Uday Hussein double played by Dominic Cooper in this film and covering him and his surroundings in nothing but gold not only captures the eye, but is a great way to show that this guys is an egomaniacal power-grubbing, money-hungry tyrant who is going to cause some trouble.

#2. Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

It's a little bit too simple of an idea for a poster that you might see from someone just learning Photoshop, but once you know the story behind Woody Allen's charming yet fantastical comedy, it really is befitting of the tone and style that makes it one of the year's best films.

#1. Shame


Subtlety is the king on this poster for a film that has garnered a lot of controversy for an NC-17 rating and graphic sexual content, and it works magnificently. The ruffled bed sheets and the title right in the middle of them hints at sexual provocation, and indicates that there's clearly a lot of drama behind the story as to how these sheets got so messed up, both metaphorically and literally.

Well those are my top choices for the best posters of 2011. 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 the year, stay tuned for a few more lists looking back at film in 2011 as the end of the year looms. Thoughts on the best posters of 2011? Did we miss any?

Find more posts: Editorial, Feat, Opinions, Posters



Some good choices on here, but you're missing quite a few REALLY good ones. I like the Shame poster, but why is everyone choosing it for #1? Come on, it's good, but not GREAT, which is what a poster really needs to be to deserve that spot! Does that Shame poster really make your jaw drop immediately looking at it? No. First things first, before anyone else mentions it, the book cover poster for Young Adult is one of the WORST of the year. I absolutely hate it, it's an ugly piece of crap that simply should not be recognized by anyone naming their best of lists. It's an uninspired, disgusting, off-putting design that should have never even seen the light of day. As for others you're missing, here are a few of my favorites that could've been chosen, too: Moneyball: Cabin in the Woods (though it's a 2012 movie): We Bought a Zoo: Super 8: Miss Bala: Man on a Ledge (barely 2012): Don't Be Afraid of the Dark:

Alex Billington on Dec 26, 2011


I think SHAME deserves #1. It's perfectly minimalistic and conveys and whole lot by just showing a very simple picture.

Freddie on Dec 26, 2011


Ethan, glad to see The Ides of March and Midnight in Paris make your list - those are two of my favorites. I agree with Alex... Shame is a worthy mention but does not deserve to be #1, and Moneyball in particular should definitely be on the list.   But I wouldn't say that the Young Adult poster is terrible, I actually like the idea.

john on Dec 26, 2011


Alex, I think all of your poster choices (with the exception of miss bala) are all really generic, typically "hollywood" designs that seem to just play it safe and show no real artistry to them. Creativity, yes, but none of them transcend just being a "poster" into being an actual work of art, like the "shame" poster does (also number 1 in my opinion). Could it probably be that it's because McQueen was a world exhibited artist before becoming a full on filmmaker? You know your films, bro; but when it comes to art and design, your choices veer more into fanboy aesthetics than true art. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that. Also, though not my favorite, I thought the "young adult novel cover" Young Adult poster was inspired and really fun!! This coming from an nyu art school grad. to each his own, I guess. Just to put my money where my mouth is. My top five, in no particular order, were: -Shame (as shown above) -Beginners: -Tree Of Life: -Melancholia: -Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (this one specifically):

Snaporaz on Dec 26, 2011


Moneyball and Tinker Tailor are better than Shame. Shame is great - but it starts of alot better than it ends.

Anonymous on Dec 26, 2011


Where is Melancholia?

Yermine Richardson on Dec 26, 2011


Cooper didn't play Saddam Hussein's double.  He played his son's, Uday (and Uday himself).

Chazzy on Dec 26, 2011


This article only proves that Ethan knows nothing and serves as a prime example of why Alex should replace him. Completely pointless....

ANolanFanatYourMomsPlace on Dec 26, 2011


Replace him? I hired him! 🙂 Ethan's a great, hard-working writer with a strong opinion of his own. I don't mind these picks above, I just have my own personal choices as well. What posters are your favorite this year if not these?

Alex Billington on Dec 26, 2011


i hear people have different tastes...

T_lynn4 on Dec 26, 2011


really... bed sheets...? Really...

Roderick on Dec 26, 2011


I literally had to scroll back up to the heading and make sure that it said the best and not the worst.

John Kinnick on Dec 27, 2011


the muppets should be at no 1.....

Free Movies Online on Dec 27, 2011


some good ones except a few for eg. #1

A5J4DX on Dec 27, 2011


Four words: Rooney Mara's pierced nipples.

Corpse Bride on Dec 28, 2011



Viewer on Dec 28, 2011


Great picks overall. Definitely would have included Super 8's Close Encounters poster, Captain America punching Hitler and The Skin I Live In..

Davide Coppola on Dec 28, 2011

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