It isn't just one or two aspects of a movie poster that make it so good, so interesting, it winds up on our Best of list each year. Interesting concepts, beautiful color palettes, intelligent artwork that draws us in, intrigues us and doesn't let us go - these are just some of the factors we consider when voting a movie poster into our top 12 of the year.
There were quite a few posters to sort through this year (over 2000 by our count), but we feel pretty confident that our list properly encompasses the best posters that Hollywood had to offer in 2014. Take a look at them below and see if you agree.
13 The Book of Life
The bright colors and unique imagery on this Book of Life poster are near perfect. It exquisitely captures the Day of the Dead feel of the 3D-animated film and you can plainly see producer Guillermo del Toro's moribund influences throughout the entire process - and that's never a bad thing in our book (of life).
This poster for Birdman is almost as interesting and pleasantly odd as the film itself and manages to properly capture the duality of the main character, Riggan Thomson, and his alter-ego, Birdman. Thomson (Michael Keaton) is obviously the main focus of both the poster and film, but with Birdman perched upon his head, it clearly controls him more than he's willing to admit. It's a brilliant poster for a brilliant film and there's a reason why it made several of our editors' list of Top 5 movies in 2014.
11 The Grand Budapest Hotel
With his latest movie, Wes Anderson once again created a group of oddball characters that revolve around a unique central setting - in this case, The Grand Budapest Hotel. There's usually no middle ground when it comes to Anderson's approach to movies - typically filled with many intellectual sight gags and deadpan humor - people either love him or hate him. However, there's no arguing that he knows how to masterfully blend colors and scenery to create beautiful images onscreen. Those skills are quite apparent in this Japanese poster for the film.
With Godzilla, Gareth Edwards' sophomore cinematic effort fell a bit short for some viewers - though we liked it a lot. The one thing that can't be disputed, however, is how he handled the design of the King of Monsters - which was incredible. The scale of Godzilla on this poster is skewed to give the creature's image dominance (he's not really taller than the Transamerica building in San Francisco), but it is great to see the inclusion of the H.A.L.O. jumpers (High Altitude Low Opening) descending above him, as it references one of the best parts of the trailer and the movie.
9 300: Rise of an Empire
While Zack Snyder was merely a producer on the sequel to his ground-breaking and (partially) historically-based swords-and-sandals movie, the imagery in 300: Rise of an Empire is clearly still influenced by both him and writer Frank Miller. It's their participation that makes this poster so interesting, though - it's a complete departure from all the over-stylized imagery used on other posters and in the film. While not quite minimalist in its execution, it's different enough to make it a poster we wouldn't mind hanging on our walls.
8 The Appearing
While we didn't review The Appearing (neither did anyone else according to Rotten Tomatoes), we still decided to include its poster on our Best of list this year. Even for a direct-to-video movie, it's hard not to like what the artists are doing here. By using powerful images of a rundown house juxtaposed over - what would appear to be - the ghost of a young woman, they've created a haunting image that makes us curious to see what the film is all about - exactly what a poster is supposed to do.
7 Big Eyes
Sometimes the artwork on a movie's poster is so on-the-nose with its description of the film's story that it fails horribly - but then there are wonderful examples like this one for Tim Burton's biographical drama, Big Eyes. The imagery on the poster is a direct comparison to the story of the film - Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) takes credit for his wife's, Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), artwork of children with oversized eyes. It's a fabulous and well-executed concept for a poster.
6 The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
While some viewers complained that Peter Jackson's sixth and final installment of J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel masterpiece was over-indulgent and came off as one long fight scene - which we didn't have a problem with, it's titled The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, after all - those complaints can't overshadow how well he and digital effects company Weta Workshop brought the fierce dragon Smaug to life. That attention to detail - in all its fiery awesomeness - is on full display in this exclusive poster made for Comic Con 2014.
5 Guardians of the Galaxy
Comic book fans were delighted when Marvel announced it was handing over the reins to its riskiest box office bet to date, Guardians of the Galaxy, to cult-favorite director James Gunn. That trust would prove to be well placed as Gunn took his eye for out-of-the-box concepts and liberally applied them to the five would-be galactic heroes - an eye that's spilled over onto this poster. From the eighties-neon color scheme, to the inclusion of the mixed-tape MacGuffin, this poster is something worthy of hanging on every comic book fan's wall.
4 X-Men: Days of Future Past
We don't usually include character posters in our Best of lists as they tend to leave out a vast majority of the film's other characters, but for this excellent poster of Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past, we'll make an exception. Wolverine is one of two central characters in the film, so it makes sense to give him such a well done solo poster. In our Worst Posters of 2014 we criticized several posters for the inclusion of "action particles" as a means of implying action to a still object but with their use in this poster, the effect works quite spectacularly.
3 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
There is so much to enjoy on this poster for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that it makes us want to watch the movie again (it made Rob Keyes and Ben Moore's Top 5 List this year). The poster is part of series by BLT Communications (which you can see HERE), and is unlike anything else they produced for the film. It's an artistic blend of images that's both aesthetically pleasing to the viewer's eye, while showing off the important characters of the story without cluttering up the workspace. For comic book fans, it's also a fitting ode to Steve Epting's Winter Soldier comic book cover art. This poster is begging to be framed and hung in place of honor in the living room.
2 Big Hero 6
Marvel/Disney was hitting on all cylinders at the box office this year, and Big Hero 6 was no exception. The 3D-animated film is based on Marvel's other group of quirky heroes and audiences around the world quickly fell in love with them - based on the look of this poster, there's little wonder as to why. The story is set in San Fransokyo, so the bright colors, and unique character images in this poster draw obvious inspiration from heavy anime influences abundantly present in Tokyo, Japan. If we were ordering this list, no doubt this excellent poster would be sitting at number one.
As you can see from our list, 2014 was a good year for movie posters - especially fans of comic book movie posters (we have 5 in our top 12). Each poster in this list offers a unique perspective on the film it's promoting, and most transcend the typical archetypical movie poster used solely for promotion and begin to dip their toes into the realm of true artwork. We sincerely hope that trend continues in 2015 and beyond.
As 2014 comes to a close, be sure to check out the rest of our year-end articles:
- Screen Rant's Top 5 Movies of 2014
- Screen Rant’s Worst Movies of 2014
- 5 Big Answers for Movie Geeks in 2014
- The 12 Worst Movie Posters of 2014
- The 7 Most Polarizing Movies of 2014
What were some of your favorite movies posters of 2014?
Follow me on Twitter - @MoviePaul - and show me your favorite movie poster from 2014.