Looking Back: Ethan Picks the Best Official Movie Posters from 2012

December 17, 2012

2012 Best Posters

It's time to start wrapping up 2012, and with several retrospective videos behind us, it's time to take a closer look at the movies from this year, more specifically the poster artwork used to hype them up. Kicking off FirstShowing's look back at 2012, 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. And so, here are my picks for the Best Movie Posters of 2012. Look!

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 2012. Therefore you won't find any posters for films from 2013, even if those posters were released this year (though you can bet this poster for The Wolverine will be on our list next year). They can be foreign posters, and may be a little bigger than your standard 27"x40" movie poster size, but you won't find any unofficial or fanmade posters here (or anything from Mondo for the most part).

#15. 21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street

This is the one poster I'm expecting to get lots of complaints, but let me explain. Aside from 21 Jump Street being one of my favorites of 2012, this poster is great. It puts Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in the kind of picture we all got with our dates after attending prom, complete with white tuxedos, and you just can't beat that tagline.

#14. The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man

Most of the posters for The Amazing Spider-Man had this similar aesthetic, but what I like about this one is that we don't need to see Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man to get the gist. Plus, it employs the first-person shooting style that was utilized for some of the swinging sequences, though there should have been more to take full advantage of the 3D.

#13. Skyfall


Using the iconic gun barrel frame that usually opens James Bond films, but taking away the color, was a simple move for this poster, but it's just a gorgeous print. It's also pretty great that Daniel Craig doesn't even need his name on this poster. He is 007.

#12. Case de Mi Padre

Casa de Mi Padre

A throwback to Western posters, just like the parody film itself, this is actually a surprisingly beautiful piece of work. It's almost what Drew Struzan might produce if he worked back in the 50s. Pointing out that the film is in 2D and in color (in Spanish no less) is a nice though that makes this a surprisingly good entry to this year's posters.

#11. The American Scream

The American Scream

This is easily the most meticulous poster from 2012 with dozens of Halloween characters illustrated around the film's title, including the people who are chronicled in this documentary about homemade haunted houses. As a bonus, you can watch this film on Netflix Instant right now.

#10. V/H/S


Another low key horror installment made the list for this simple but effective design of the universally foreboding image of a skull composed of hundreds of VHS tapes, a relic that many people under the age of 18 don't even remember now. Part of me wonders if this is a photo of real video tapes or if it was made in Photoshop. Either way, it's great.

#9. The Man with the Iron Fists

The Man with the Iron Fists

A whole slew of alternate posters for this kung fu film from RZA hit the web, but this one is the most beautiful. The slamming of fists, the splattering of blood into butterflies, and it's all illustrated. Bingo.

#8. Looper


Another poster reminiscent of Drew Struzan, this French poster came after the release of Looper, but is actually the best piece of print marketing that we saw for the impressive sci-fi film. The inclusion of the time machine is my favorite part, but the composition itself is really striking.

#7. ParaNorman


In a bit of guerilla marketing, these posters never made it to theaters, but ended up slapped against walls out on the street for people to take at their leisure. Each of the posters were cool pieces of art for the underrated animated film, but this was my personal favorite.

#6. Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

Illustrated posters are harder and harder to come by in this age of Photoshop, but this Moonrise Kingdom poster really goes the extra mile. Though I wish the names were a little less prominent, the size of the two adolescent co-stars in relation to the world in front of them is a perfect representation of the coming-of-age tale that Wes Anderson presents in the film.

#5. Prometheus


Another throwback makes the list with this midnight IMAX poster for Prometheus. Taking a cue from the original Alien poster the white border is a nice touch on an otherwise dark image that is full of mystery, just like the movie itself.

#4. Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods

Inspired by MC Esher's Relativity, this Cabin in the Woods poster is easily the best one used to promote this unique horror film. The art of Esher is an obvious choice to represent the puzzling nature of the film itself, but it's the execution that makes it a top pick. In addition to featuring each seemingly doomed character, my favorite touch is the force field wall towards the bottom of the art.

#3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

This is about the closest we came to having a true Drew Struzan poster this year, and it wasn't even used in the United States, only in Japan. The position of all the characters, the prominence of Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins with the ring, and all the dwarves accounted for might have made for a busy piece of work, but I wish I could have a copy of this up one on my wall.

#2. The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

Seeing the broken cowl of Batman and the hulking Bane walking away in the shadows says all we need to know about this poster, and it was also a very striking image for those who didn't know what to expect from the end to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight legend. A stunning teaser poster for The Dark Knight Rises.

#1. The Master

The Master

All right, we cheated a bit here, but every single poster for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was a total triumph, but we chose to give both of these posters the top spot. They're each remarkably different, and sell the movie in different ways. The first paints a picture of a man (Joaquin Phoenix) learning from this titular master (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), but while drowned in liquor while the second one uses a Roarschach test aesthetic to represent a film that lets the audience decide what it's really about in the end.

Well those are my top choices for the best posters of 2012. 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 2012 as the end of the year looms. Thoughts on the best posters of 2012? Did we miss any?

Find more posts: Artwork, Editorial, Posters



Great list. I will say I liked the Catwoman poster of the stiletto in the bat more than the Bane one, but both are fantastic.

Kristalbailey on Dec 17, 2012


Yeah, I almost included them both, but considering Catwoman was never really a straight-up villain for Batman, I thought it was a bit misleading, so I chose not to include it.

Ethan Anderton on Dec 17, 2012


I like the Catwoman poster you mention, but this Bane one is tough as f-u-c-k.! It's one of the best posters ever, period.

Chris on Dec 17, 2012


No Avengers? Disappointed!

JBrotsis on Dec 17, 2012


Most of The Avengers posters were boring and nothing but Photoshop work.

Ethan Anderton on Dec 17, 2012



Alex on Dec 17, 2012


Unlike our own Alex Billington, I actually really liked the Lincoln poster, but I didn't think it was good enough to include as one of the best.

Ethan Anderton on Dec 17, 2012


Yeah, THE MASTER's posters were very, very good. Completely understated and on point with what the film was about. Remember PT's THERE WILL BE BLOOD poster? Oh, so good.

DAVIDPD on Dec 17, 2012


Love this! I never thought too much about movie posters as art. You have flipped a switch...

Tyler Wantuch on Dec 17, 2012


great list good job Ethan

Ihussain on Dec 17, 2012


Some great posters. The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus and Skyfall... damn this was a year of disappointments. Looper wasn't that great either

Richie G on Dec 17, 2012


Aha, so you too want The Hobbit Japan style? I have checked if there are any online stores that have it, or on ebay; but no luck yet. Maybe will get a few in stock soon.

David Banner on Dec 18, 2012


The poster for "The Hobbit" seems a bit generic compared to the rest of this list, the only one I didn't care for. Apart from that, great posters.

Efterklang on Dec 18, 2012


Good list. My favorite this year was the poster for Pieta.

Davide Coppola on Dec 18, 2012


Great list. My favorites of those are The American Dream, Skyfall and, of course, The Dark Knight Rises. Deshei! Deshei! Basara! Basara! Epic.

Isildur_of_Numenor on Dec 18, 2012


I liked the Skyfall poster alot, but I thought the IMAX poster for Skyfall was incredible. Nice simple design, and having the Aston Martin in the shot makes it fantastic.

Jack on Dec 18, 2012


Some good picks! Although, I'm getting pretty sick of the fake creases that posters are including to look like old posters. I see 5 doing it on this list. I get the point, just think the artwork can speak for itself.

WOLFMANIAC on Dec 18, 2012


I love that Dark Knight Rises poster. The broken cowl art looks great on the best buy steelbook case.

mudywaters on Dec 18, 2012


What is your obsession with Drew Struzan?? Granted he's added a lot to the style of epic movie posters, but you constantly refer to him in the captions as if every poster artist is trying to imitate him, or should, in order to make a successfully interesting piece.

ambiguish on Dec 18, 2012


What's the deal with Case de Mi Padre? There are 6 housekeepers? and 13 legs. It seems they photo shopped a 3rd leg on one of the girls. Now that is funny.

Dave on Dec 19, 2012


You should have the poster for the Raid on here. I actually bought it and got it professionally framed.

Josh Taylor on Jan 3, 2013


Speaking of Drew Struzan, I am happy to say he has not lost his touch. My god no.

Sam Witwer on Jan 10, 2013

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