Best Movie Posters of 2013

Most movie posters are mediocre, but this year saw some really great artwork. (And also its fair share of eyestraining dreck and truly awful Photoshop hatchet jobs.) Here’s a look at some of the best posters for 2013 movies, along with a bit of commentary about some noticeable trends in the artwork.

(You can click on any of the pictures to see a full-size image of the poster.)

Sometimes you can make a big impact with a single simple image. The posters for Blackfish and Man of Steel both depicted a familiar, almost iconic image in a new light that stopped me in my tracks with their elegant simplicity. Meanwhile, Blue Caprice and The Jeffrey Dahmer Files were coyer with their posters and required a bit of background knowledge on what the movie is about. But if you do know what they’re about, both images are absolutely chilling. All of these posters kept text to a minimum, letting the images speak for themselves.

Some of the year’s best posters forgo photography altogether and opted for more traditional mediums. The ABC’s of Death and Stoker both played with familiar childhood imagery to sell very dark films. The ABC’s of Death capitalized on its simple concept and the result is one of my absolute favourite posters of the year. Stoker meanwhile created fairytale-inspired imagery, which actually suits the film and its themes quite well. The Kings of Summer had a a number of lovely illustrated posters, but I think this one best evoked those warm fuzzy feelings of childhood. On the other hand, Fruitvale Station‘s beautiful watercolor poster hinted at some of the melancholy and foreboding tone of the film (though I could have done without the big quote at the top).

Instagram-inspired posters have been all the rage for the past couple of years, and sepia-toned posters were back once again in 2013. Not everyone did it well, but Dallas Buyers Club did a nice job of creating a striking image and getting their star in the frame without overwhelming us with Matthew McConaughey. Spring Breakers had a whole slew of great posters, and this one perfectly evokesd the hazy tone of the film. The Charlie Countryman poster was garish and colourful in a great way, while Coldwater offered some nice lens flare and totally caught my interest and made me wonder what the film is about.

Sometimes just a face is all it takes. These four faces say something different and all represent their respective films perfectly. The close-up on Sandra Bullock’s worried face set up the urgency of Gravity. The bandana over Dane DeHaan’s mouth was a nice nod to his silent character in Metallica: Through the Never while his hoodie, leather jacket, and piercing gaze let us know this Metallica concert film was going to be badass. Rooney Mara’s expression said a lot about her state of mind in Side Effects, and the prescription-style credits at the bottom and nearly imperceptible Jude Law in the background were telling touches, too. And while we may have only gotten a silhouetted profile of Bruce Dern on the Nebraska one-sheet, his fuzzy wisp of hair, half-open mouth, and glasses said it all.

Other posters took a busier approach, experimenting with geometric shapes, symmetry and repetition. Spring Breakers hit it out of the park again with this accurate representation of its characters’ road trip essentials. The Bling Ring (which drew comparisons to Spring Breakers in more way than one) also did a nice job of cleanly laying out the mindset of its characters by showing their possessions. You’re Next, on the other hand, presented us with a very clever floorplan of the horrors within the film, while Only God Forgives embraced its own over-the-top style and garishness and completely pulled off the usually hokey “neon” trend that’s been popping up in pop culture marketing lately.

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