While we have a good time panning all the poorly produced movie posters each year (check out our 12 Worst Posters of 2015), it's the extremely well-done posters that we look forward to picking out and talking about with enthusiasm. We would gladly frame and hang every poster mentioned on this list on our wall or give it as a present because they cross the line from promotional material to true pieces of art.
Picking our top twelve favorites is not easy as there are several dozen well-made posters by talented graphic artists for us to look at while making a decision. Here are the eight posters from our original Top 20 that didn't quite make the cut but deserve to been seen (in no particular order):
- The Martian by Ignition
- Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by BLT Communications
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Dan Mumford
- The Walk by Vox and Associates
- Sicario by LA
- Ant-Man by BLT Communications and Michael Muller
- The Editor by Phantom City Creative
- Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon Poster by Rick Meyerowitz
12 Star Wars: The Force Awakens
When done properly and with expertise, an "order of importance" movie character poster can be artfully done and present a powerful message for fans looking close enough at the image. This Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster by promotional art studio LA (who also produced this outstanding Gods of Egypt poster) is proof of that statement.
A viewer can easily tell the amount of screen time and importance of each character to the film's story based on their the relative size to each other - i.e., Kylo Ren is largest, Maz Kanata is the smallest, and - SPOILER - Luke Skywalker isn't even present.
Hardcore comic books fans have plenty to be excited about in 2016 with plenty of big name comic book movies coming out, such as Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. However, if you were to ask those fans what comic-based movie they have the highest expectations for, it would most likely be Ryan Reynolds' dream project, Deadpool.
This poster by Ten30 Studios successfully captures the irreverent, off-color, humor ever-present in the Deadpool comic series, without going completely overboard with the raunchiness. Sometimes, all it take to be successful is the proper use of subtle imagery and this poster completely nails it.
Graphic design studio Gravillis, Inc's portfolio has mostly consisted of the standard, often boring, character poster - though they produced some beautiful ones for Quentin Tarantino's brutal western The Hateful Eight - which is why their poster for Southpaw stands outs to us in a good way. It's a great toss back to the old poster bills used to promote boxing matches back in the day that could be seen plastered all over the sides of buildings.
It's not a very sophisticated or complex poster but there's a subdued elegance about it that we just can't stop admiring. We'd be proud to display this Southpaw poster on our wall.
9 Being Evel
The award winning documentary Being Evel centers on the life of famed stuntman Robert "Evel" Knievel. It was written and directed by Daniel Junge (A Lego Brickumentary) and produced by fellow "amateur" stuntman Johnny Knoxville (Jackass). This stunning monochromatic poster with color highlights for Being Evel was made by graphic house ARSONAL and it's an appropriate showcase for such a classic icon of Americana like Evel.
For years, ARSONAL only produced promotional material for popular televisions series such as, Orange is the New Black, Sons of Anarchy and House. In recent years, however, they've expanded their reach to include feature films. Hopefully they will continue their trend of high quality movie posters like this one.
8 The Witch
Newcomer Robert Eggers got behind the camera to make his directorial debut with the 2015 horror film, The Witch. He took his previous experience as a production designer and deftly applied that knowledge to make The Witch one hauntingly beautiful movie.
Graphic studio Gravillis, Inc. is back and has managed to take Eggers' impressive eye for imagery on film and more than adequately translate that to one of the film's posters. Generally we don't usually consider characters posters when picking our Best of lineup but the combination of the goat (or faun) head profile and the interesting font choice make this poster one we'd like to own.
7 Avengers: Age of Ultron
While Avengers: Age of Ultron may have disappointed many Marvel fans earlier this summer, what didn't disappoint anyone were the posters produced for the film. This one by relative newcomer eclipse stood out in particular to us, though they produced two others we were rather impressed by as well - see them HERE and HERE.
It's very different from the character-heavy posters Marvel generally likes to release for their films, especially ones that feature several characters, but we're very glad they decided to let eclipse take this concept in a new direction. Our favorite part of this image is how each superhero is recognizable in a minimalist way, using only three colors and each hero's respective identifying trait - i.e., Thor's hammer, Cap's shield and nick Fury's eye patch.
6 Red Army
Back in the eighties, the former-Soviet Union had one of the best, if not THE best hockey team in the entire world. Their training and skill on the ice were legendary and the story behind the USA amateur hockey beating them in 1980 Olympic Games is one that's been talked about for over thirty years - even spawning several arcade games and a feature length film, Miracle.
Director Gabe Polsky wrote and directed this documentary titled, Red Army, looking at the infamous team from the eyes of the players themselves. This poster by La Boca is a classic toss back and a beautiful example of the type of artwork generally seen around that era.
5 Captain America: Civil War
Next to the Infinity Wars Saga, the most anticipated comic book story fans are looking forward to seeing brought to life is that of Mark Millar's 7-issue Civil War series. The story of the world population second guessing superheroes and requiring them all to register per the Sokovia Accords (the MCU-equivalent of the Superhuman Registration Act) will eventually see a split between friends - in this case, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark - as alliances are formed on both sides of the topic.
This poster for Captain America: Civil War by BLT Communications drives home that point almost more than the end of the first trailer does. It's a powerful image whose message speaks volumes.
4 Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road was one of our favorite action movies this year and earned well-deserved praise from critics and movie fans alike. While some people will argue the movie didn't feature enough Max (Tom Hardy) and too much Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), what is not up for debate is just how excellent and entertaining it was on the whole.
Like the exquisite world director George Miller created, this poster for the movie co-designed by Little Giant Studios and Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company is absolutely beautiful and we could stare at it all day. The only thing that would bump this poster into the Top 3 would be the inclusion of Furiosa and the five wives alongside of Max, intently staring down Immortan Joe and his gang of War Boys.
3 Bone Tomahawk
Writer and cinematographer S. Craig Zahler can now add award-winning director to his list of accomplishments thanks to his dark and gritty western horror movie, Bone Tomahawk. The story starring Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins and Matthew Fox follows the four men as the attempt to rescue some townspeople held captive by a group of cannibalistic "Troglodytes."
It's a dreary, brutal tale that Zahler tells very well. We think this poster was developed by Caliber Media (though they may have just created the trailer for the film), but whoever created it deserves an ample amount of praise. Well-done western-themed posters are often hard to find, so it's great to see this done so superbly.
2 Jupiter Ascending
For the most part, Jupiter Ascending was another in an ever growing line of financial and critical movie failures in the Wachowskis' science fiction filmography. That's not to say there weren't some good aspects to the movie; every grandiose setting has a very distinct Wachowskis' feel to it - and that's not a bad thing.
Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company extended the over-the-top world created in the movie with this hand-drawn, pencil and ink-style movie poster. It draws from a particular scene in the movie where Jupiter is getting dressed to marry by her brother Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne). They even managed to make Caine Wise' (Channing Tatum) dog ears look surprisingly good, though it's a positive that the rocket boots are missing.
1 Jurassic World
Jurassic World was the number one movie in 2015, bringing in over $1.6 billion globally (Star Wars: A Force Awakens was at $1.3 billion at the time of this publishing), crushing the competition under foot like a giant Indominus Rex.
While most of the promotional material for the movie was average, this original print by artist Mark Englert simply blew us away. Englert is a long-time graphic designer with a long history of producing fantastic work - you can see it on his website, Taco Belvedere HERE. This particular image had an initial run of only 500 prints, which Universal gave away at San Diego Comic Con this past summer.
If more studios would produce promotional art like this for their movies, then there wouldn't be any blank spaces on our walls.
There were so many fantastic posters released this year that are worthy of ownership that we just couldn't list them all in one post. Which ones were your favorites and were there any we missed? Let us know in the comments section.