From the Grand Budapest Hotel’s sugary facade to Steve Carell’s freaky Foxcatcher profile, Liam Lacey crowns the Top 10 movie posters of the year
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dublin-based Annie Atkins provided all the graphic design work for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, creating a common style that runs through the newspapers, passports, currency and even stamps used in the film. The poster – a photographed model of the hotel, looking like an extravagant birthday cake, against a painted alpine landscape – is all you need to see to know that this is a movie that pays attention to intricate detail. That extends to the title sign’s off-balance lettering, which prepares us for the rakish charm of the hotel’s concierge, Gustave H., played by Ralph Fiennes.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Alejandro G. Innaritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is an eccentric film that demands an unconventional poster. In the film, Michael Keaton plays stressed-out actor Riggan Thomson, once famous for a series of movies as the costumed hero, Birdman, trying to gain credibility through a Broadway production. The illustration, with angular shadows, shows the Birdman character with talons in Riggan’s head, and emphasizing the birdlike angles of Keaton’s own features. A series of art-deco style Manhattan posters that were released with the film evoke the early years of the superhero comics.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s rambling hippie noir, based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel, explores the end of sixties utopianism in the form of a Los Angeles detective story. The garishly eye-catching poster is right on in capturing the movie’s era and hazy sensibility: The peek-a-boo feminine pink legs making a V for Vice, against a seascape sunset and a last-chance sailboat sailing away.
Lars von Trier’s two-part, four-hour drama about the life story of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, was a humourless exercise, but this teaser poster – featuring the cast members, shot naked from the shoulders up, apparently in the throes of orgasm, is cheeky fun. Actually, only eight of the nine characters on the poster are making their “O faces:” Shia LaBeouf’s Jerome already has a cigarette in his mouth.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a professor who discovers his exact double is an actor, in Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Jose Saramango’s allegorical novel about political repression. Ergo, this unsettling poster of a man whose bottom half echoes his top half, melting simultaneously at the face, or pelvic region. This poster image, and a series of other striking posters for Enemy, are the work of Colorado-based Jay Shaw who takes inspiration from Polish poster artists of the sixties and seventies and their often dreamlike interpretations of movies’ themes.
Director David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel about a wife’s mysterious disappearance is conceptually sly, and so is this poster. Given some licence because of the book’s popularity, designer Neil Kellerhouse (he also did the excellent poster for Under the Skin) could afford to be minimalist. Neither of the stars, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, appear. There’s an incomplete sentence running down the side of the image down to an idyllic lake scene with a single cloud like a puff of smoke. And underneath a news crawl from FOX-TV telling of a missing wife and suspect husband.
Men, Women & Children
Jason Reitman’s movie about how we’re all becoming slaves to our smartphones wasn’t very good, but its poster, which suggests the muted colours of a vintage paperback, catches your attention like a low, calm voice at a loud party. The teen couple, played by Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Dever are embracing in the green shirts, while everyone else, including Adam Sandler (lower left) and Jennifer Garner (lower right) are contemplating their phones. The use of traditional illustration in a digital photoshopped age serves as its own editorial comment.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Director Ana Lily Amirpour’s black-and-white horror movie about a skateboarding teen girl vampire who stalks the streets of an Iranian ghost town known as Bad City hasn’t opened theatrically in Canada yet, but positive reviews and the strong three-colour retro poster, reminiscent of a Saul Bass’s work, are building anticipation. The black triangle of the girl’s figure splits the poster’s frame, evoking F.W. Murnau’s 1922 vampire film, Nosferatu, only this time the monster isn’t an ancient parasite, but a vital young woman in a chador. We’re presuming the splash of red on her mouth isn’t lipstick.
Posters for blockbuster movies are glum things that tend to mix a lot of turbulent smoky grey with splashes of red to grab your attention. The series of posters for Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla, do that, too, but better than the competition. This image for the IMAX version, with its dirty white background, has the monster’s silhouette surrounded by the red sun of Japan’s flag, and his back ridges mirroring the skyline of the city below him. It feels “classic,” as if it were peeled off a dorm room wall from a half-century ago, with bits of crumbling plaster still attached.
Bennett Miller’s true-crime movie about multimillionaire John E. du Pont (Steve Carell) and his fatal involvement in the lives of Olympic wrestling siblings Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) told a tale of money and madness. In this image, Carell’s profile (unrecognizable with his prosthetic nose) forms the hole in a torn paper, with the ghostly image of the family’s mansion visible within. The profile also suggests the obverse of a coin.
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