Another year, another huge stack of one sheets, character posters and teaser artwork to spread out on the floor and judge.
This year, the best official one sheets of 2011 are almost evenly split between studio and independent releases. It's a sign that studios are starting to recognize the power behind really strong design. Something I assume stems from the success of last year's tastefully stark layout for The Social Network. The designer of which, Neil Kellerhouse, continues to create the best looking pieces in the industry as he has two entries in this year's list. But topping him with three entries is freelance designer Mark Carroll who displays a clear grasp of communicating the ideas behind the movie through its one sheet. Imagine that.
So, without further adieu:
10. Hobo with a Shotgun, artwork by Tom Hodge.
Also known by his pseudonym The Dude Designs, Hodge has an innate ability to craft 1970's Exploitation-style illustrations without feeling derivative. Even the faux paper grime feels original.
9. The Tree of Life, design by Mark Carroll.
Perfectly captures the scope of a Terence Malick film as only a static piece of design could: through the cummulative effect of imagery.
8. Captain America: The First Avenger, design by BLT & Associates.
One of the few Superhero movie posters that embraces the industry prevalent Photoshop sensibility and turns it into something painterly and mythological.
7. Meek's Cutoff, design by Marlene McCarty.Oscilloscope Laboratories is pretty unpredictable when it comes to their posters. Sometimes you get delicately composed photography or straight up illustration work, but no matter the style they have a consistent quality to their one sheets. A quality they raised the bar with by working with contemporary artist Marlene McCarty for this striking design.
6. Haywire, design by Neil Kellerhouse.
The most finely colored of the bunch that uses very muted hues against a brash Day Glo orange background. From the slanted credit block, to the jagged logo title, to the sexual/violent interplay of the image, everything is perfectly placed.
5. Insidious, design by The Church of London.
The design agency behind Little White Lies plays up all the horror movie stereotypes while somehow still remaining fresh. I love that the hands are photographs, gives the poster a nice dimensionality despite the flatness of the main graphic and logo title.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, design by Neil Kellerhouse.
Only Kellerhouse could make something so beautiful feel so sinister. It's a great example of his strong sense of imagery, typography, and perfectionism. Something that befits a poster for a David Fincher film.
3. Hesher, artwork by ?
The most cohesive of the bunch in that it looks fully hand pencilled from the crazy detailed fist all the way down to the credit block. I've been trying to track down the artist behind the poster ever since its release, but no dice. Anyone know?
2. Shame, design by Mark Carroll.
I can't remember the last time that a photo of an inanimate object communicated as much emotional depth as a movie. This one for Shame succeeds at doing just that while also communicating in a physical sense as well. You can just feel the body heat rising off the sheets.
1. Martha Marcy May Marlene, design by Mark Carroll.There is layers of genius to this, the best poster of 2011. On the marketing side, the QR code is not just a design element, but also a working QR code that if you take a picture of it with your mobile phone will forward you onto the film's trailer to watch immediately. On the thematic side, designer Mark Carroll has subverted the role of the QR code from hackey marketing ploy to an iconic representation of technology. The movie, which is one my favorites of the year, concerns a character who lives on a farm in a hippie-like cult. The setting they've placed themselves in is devoid of modern societal trappings, like technology. And this poster captures that idea, that the main character is trapped prison bar-style within the confines of modern society and its this cult who will set her free. Yeah, pretty heavy stuff captured with simplicity and a bit of irony.
I'm interested to see what your favorite posters of 2011 are so post away in the comments below. If you want to see my other favorites that didn't make the cut then check out my Movie Posters 2011 Board on Pinterest.
And watch out next week for my list of The Top Ten Movie Posters of 2011 (Alternative Artworks).