Every year, literally hundreds of films are released around the world, and movie posters are one way studios promote these films. Some posters are fantastic – showing the creativity of the artist and/or studio promoting the film. Others are just lazy and unoriginal, showing nothing more than images of the main characters staring intently into space. Others still are just laughably and ridiculously bad, showing that almost no thought or effort went into making them.

There were over 1,000 movie posters released this year, but since there isn’t a central database containing every poster, there is a chance we might have left out your favorite. Still, we managed to sort through the dreck and mundane offerings to bring you what we think are the top 12 best and 12 worst movie posters that were released 2011.

[NOTE: The movies depicted in the posters didn’t have to be released in 2011 to make our list – only the posters did.]

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12. The Three Musketeers

This Japanese poster for The Three Musketeers, Paul W. S. Anderson’s 3D “re-imagining” of Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale, has a plethora of problems – not the least of which was having all the actors “mug” for the camera. We have a hard time telling if this is a poster for a major motion picture or the cover of a Harlequin romance novel – the only person missing is Fabio. This isn’t the worst poster produced this year, but there is enough wrong with it to place it among our bottom twelve.

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Where do we start with this ridiculous Spanish poster for Adam Sandler’s latest “comedic” effort, Jack and Jill? It’s bad enough audiences have to endure images of Sandler in drag, but to put him/her front and center is uncalled for – and for Pete’s sake cover up those knees! Poor Photoshopping skills aside, it’s also hard to overlook Sony’s obvious pandering to Spanish audiences by including Eugenio Derbez (arguably Mexico’s most popular actor) when neither his name nor image have been seen in any other promotional materials. That afro he is sporting isn’t scoring any points, either.

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The creators of this Bad Teacher poster were trying to be witty and tongue-in-cheek but instead the humor – as it did in the movie – comes off as juvenile and crass. A drunken Cameron Diaz sleeping off a bender at her desk and telling the audience to eat her really does show she doesn’t give an “F” – and neither do we, which is why this bad poster is number ten in our list.

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The awfulness of this Dutch poster for Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World is baffling – as is trying to explain the continued success of the Spy Kids franchise in general. We assume the poster is supposed to catch the eye and entice the film’s target audience of children under twelve but all it does is give us a headache. From Joel McHale’s smirk to Mason Cook’s poorly and over-photoshopped head, to Rowan Blanchard’s impression of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s raised eyebrow to the creepy glowing eye dog – everything about this poster begs for it to be in our worst poster list…so it is.

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Even though online posters are free, it feels like the creators of this laughably bad poster for The Chaperone owe the people who look at it some money – perhaps they could give us that poorly photoshopped group of bills from Paul Levesque’s front shirt pocket? Nothing in this poster makes any aesthetic sense, but the worse offense has to be the two undersized bad guys clinging to the top of the disproportioned bus (even though it isn’t moving). As far as we can tell, the only thing not digitally manipulated in this poster are Triple H’s muscles. He should use them to body slam this bad poster.

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This poster for Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star isn’t offensive because it shows a man with his pants around his ankles. No, it’s offensive because it resorts to tasteless and unoriginal sight gags to achieve humor. No audience wants to be “tantalized” by the thought of Nick Swardson’s twig and berries…EVER!

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This poster for Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) isn’t on our worst list for bad graphics – the graphics work on the poster is actually quite good. What puts this poster on our list is the classless and tasteless image used to promote the movie. Strangely enough, if this poster were a work of art hanging in a fancy art gallery it would be hailed as an imaginative piece whose subject matter pushes the boundaries of the viewer to make them both uncomfortable and intrigued. Instead, it just what its tagline says – sick.

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Apparently studios think that foreign audiences don’t care very much about the quality of movie posters – at least that’s what Sony would have us think by looking at this poster for The Zookeeper. Every single thing in the poster has been manipulated to the point of hilarity – Kevin James’ arms, the gorilla’s arms – the size of the bear and the lion all look ridiculous, as does that smile on James’ face. If that monkey in back had any sense of self-worth, he would let the lion eat him just to get off this poster.

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Tyler Perry does not a Black Swan make, but the popular black male comedian in drag put together a series of parody posters for Madea’s Big Happy Family based on some recent critically-acclaimed films. He also did ones based off The King’s Speech, True Grit and The Godfather, but this was the worst of the bunch and  truth be told, none of them are funny. At least he had the good sense not to show his knees.

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Some pictures can’t be unseen and Martin Lawrence dressed in drag as Big Momma, in costume as Lady Gaga, in this French poster for Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, is one those pictures that will forever be burned into our brains. At what point in the process of creating this horrendous poster did someone look at it and say, “Yup! This is fine quality work here. My job is done.“? And why, oh why, did the graphic artist choose to give her/him/she/whatever a mini-skirt? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little…

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X-Men: First Class is a fine addition to the X-Men movie franchise and is arguably the best of the series – however, the movie had some of the worst posters associated with it that we have seen in a number of years. In fact, they were so bad that they secured the number one and number two spots in our Worst List. We appreciate what the creators were trying to say with this image – Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) will soon become the villain Magento. Surely there had to be a better way to communicate that message? Movie fans everywhere took one look at this poster and immediately thought it was a poor attempt by an overzealous fan – but alas, this one was approved by the studio.

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Edging out the Magento poster above by the smallest of margins is this terrible poster of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) for X-Men: First Class. It has all the same bad qualities as the Magneto poster, but loses greater points for removing part of McAvoy’s face. These “Crotch Silhouette” posters are cringe-worthy bad and couldn’t have taken the creators more than five minutes to finish both. We don’t know of anyone that would want either of these posters hanging on the wall in their room. Ever.

Now, on to our list of the 12 Best Posters of 2011…

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12. The Muppets

Disney’s promotional trailers for The Muppets parodied major films that released this year – The Hangover II, Green Lantern, The Girl with the Dragon TattooBreaking Dawn Part 1 – and were nothing short of brilliant. There were several parody posters released as well, but none stood out to us more than Sam the Eagle as Captain America. Disney took two classic American icons and combined them into one fantastic poster.

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As in the first Hangover, the “Wolfpack” once again finds themselves waking up in a strange location with no recollection of the past night’s events. Even though The Hangover Part II was like experiencing deja vu, except not as much fun, this poster is oddly entertaining. Anytime someone puts a monkey on a poster dressed in a jean jacket and passed out drunk on a bathroom floor wihle still clinging tightly to his bottle of whiskey, it will always make our top twelve list.

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This poster for David Fincher’s remake of the Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is exactly what a tantalizing and titulating poster is supposed to be – almost inapproptiate without being trashy, vulgar or disgusting. Daniel Craig looks intense, but who wouldn’t be holding a topless Rooney Mara? The proper use of shadows, lighting and stragetically placed numbers that encourage the viewer to use their imagination are the reasons why this poster holds the number ten spot in our top twelve.

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This poster for Hobo with a Shotgun is the work of the talented Tom Hodge from The Dude Designs. The goal in creating his posters is to “bring back explosions, exploitation and helicopters!” and he succeeds here on all fronts. This poster reminds viewers what movie posters are supposed to do – attract, entertain, intrigue and encourage them to see the film. Of course, posters from ’70s and early ’80s exploitaion films were for movies that typically weren’t very good, and such is the case with Hobo with a Shotgun. Still, on artwork alone this poster deserves to be in our top twelve.

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This modest, yet effective, poster for The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is remincescent of posters for the Marxist Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, which is appropriate, since both are about guerillas/gorillas rising up and overturning authority. By adding a simple green “R” to the poster, the entire meaning is changed and the plot of the movie can be determined by the viewer. This is how a movie poster is supposed to market a film – clean, creative and simple.

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This poster for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is darkly beautiful and includes a number of things that typically enstill fear in people – twisted knotty limbs, a black rose, a pair of long and dangerous looking shears, bent and sickly twisted barbed wire, a sharp straight razor and haunting shadows reaching out to snatch up an innocent child. The title artwork is masterfully done and the creator should be proud.

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Liongate released this motion poster for their Conan the Barbarian remake in the early stages of promoting the film and it is stunning. From the rolling clouds, to the Conan’s clothes blowing in the wind, to the ominious and haunting music playing in the background – everything in this poster just works. It’s too bad the film turned out to be a mediochre offering and wasn’t near as interesting as this poster. (We have the static version of the poster here until we work out some technical issues.)

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This poster for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is as beautiful and thoughtfully made as his film was. Incorporating scenes from the movie – and basically telling its story without the viewer knowing it – this poster designed by Mark Carroll is an example of how something can appear busy and revealing without confusing the viewer or distracting them.

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There aren’t many movies that can get away with not incorporating the title of the film somewhere on its poster, yet this one for Disney’s Winnie the Pooh pulls it off quite nicely. Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre woods are on an adventure and this poster beckons the child in all of us to join them. This is a fine example of how less is more and simple is better.

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Normally a poster which only shows the profile of the main character wouldn’t be considered for a top twelve list, but in the case of this poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 we made an exception. For the past ten years audiences have watch Harry grow up at Hogwarts knowing that all the experiences he was going through would lead up to this one final showdown with the evil Lord Voldemort, and this poster expresses just that. Indeed it does all end, and the final battle, like this poster, is glorious.

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This is the only poster in our top twelve list that doesn’t release in theaters until 2012 but since it came out in 2011 we decided to count it. The Dark Knight Rises is arguably next year’s most anticipated film and this first poster for the movie manages to tell a story with no words or characters on it – chaos is going to reign in Gotham, things as we know it are going to crumble and be destroyed, but from that destruction an iconic hero is going to rise. Complex in its artwork but simple its message, we feel this poster deserves to be number two.

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The were a lot of anxious feelings regarding how director Joe Johnston would handle the iconic superhero Captain America. Would Cap be watered down to appeal to a worldwide audience? Would he be turned into a tormented soul questioning his moral values and country? Or maybe, like so many other action heroes, would he become a basterized version of a generic action hero using his brawn instead of his heart to fight evil? Well, with this first poster for Captain America: The First Avenger all those anxious feelings were quelled. In this poster fans know that no matter what type of chaos is circling Captain America,  he is going to be steadfast and unwavering – remaining an American hero we can all be proud of.

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That’s it: The 12 worst and 12 best posters of 2011. There are plenty of movies coming out in 2012 – some good, some bad – which means there will be ample opportunity for studios to give us something fantastic or extremely awful.

Follow me on Twitter (@Walwus) and tell me which posters you thought were the worst of the year.

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