Looking Back: Ethan Picks the Best Official Movie Posters from 2013

December 26, 2013

Best Movie Posters of 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

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

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

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

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.

#11. Stoker


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

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

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

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

Berberian 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.

#6. Nymphomaniac


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 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

Escape of 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

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

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

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?

Find more posts: Editorial, Lists, Looking Back, Posters



In your choices i love this two Ethan Hobbit Escape from tomorrow Nymphomaniac (Not Great But Just Interesting) But my favourite is

Ehsan Davodi on Dec 26, 2013


Where the hell is Godzilla?

dawko on Dec 26, 2013


If you'll read the rules as to how we choose the posters each year, this is only posters for films that were released in 2013. Since Godzilla is a 2014 release, it won't be considered until next year.

Ethan Anderton on Dec 26, 2013


I wholeheartedly agree with #1. I'm happy they used that for the Blu-ray. Every time I put on the movie, I always look at that cover for a minute while waiting for the menu to load. A brilliant, minimalistic poster which I'd like to see more often from films.

thejon93rd on Dec 26, 2013


Yeah that THE WOLVERINE one is dynamite. But GRAVITY was killer.

DAVIDPD on Dec 26, 2013


My top 10 posters: Blackfish, Blue is the Warmest Color, Fast & Furious 6 (especially the Paul Walker one), The Great Beauty, Man of Steel (any), Nymphomaniac (any), Room 237, Spring Breakers (the "towel poster"), Warm Bodies, You're Next (the viral posters with just a giant letter on it). I have to agree with you on Pain & Gain and Stoker, those are great too!

DavideCoppola on Dec 27, 2013

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