Thursday, November 27, 2008

Labels and Love

Posters of the Year 2008
A cross. A wire. A trampoline. A clueless president. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple image to convey the mood of a film. When it comes to movie posters, I prefer simplicity and classicism above all, and the best use their images sparingly and appropriately. The art of the film poster is a bit of a lost one these days. Below are my choices for those in 2008 that retained it best.

Honorable Mention:
With a logo this iconic, what else do you need? I'll tell you what: flashing lights, plenty of pink, and one of the most unabashedly adorable taglines ever.

And the Rest:

I had a hard time choosing which version to go with here, since there was also that great "misunderestimated" lot floating around that riffed on "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil." I decided on the one above not only because it illutrates the falseness of modern politics in the media but also because it drives home the nearly unanimous notion that Bush was little more than a puppet.

This film's marketing campaign far exceeded the film itself. The trailer for Michael Haneke's remake of his own sadistic 1997 thriller was perhaps the year's best, and this stirring image encapsulates the helpless fear of its characters with just one tear and one knockout actress' desperate expression.

Half the glory of this propaganda-like one-sheet was its much-anticipated reveal -- the poster itself was a big premiere. The other half consists of a blonde-topped man beaten down by life, a hope-inspiring and action-suggestive array of lights, and an eloquent endorsement of a very Oscar-friendly performance.

One of three illustration-only titles on this list, this pink confection is as buoyant as Sally Hawkins' turn as the sprightly Poppy. The version with the actress tossing her hair back is a joy as well, but nothing beats the lightheartedness of the work above.

The only one in the bunch that borders on busy, "The Fall" ranks high because it accurately communicates the fantasy film's wonder and color-filled beauty. Don't know who the heck Lee Pace is? Or Tarsem, for that matter? Who cares? Look at those reds and blues pop.

Few posters have the bravery to go for just black and white and a little selective color (you'll have to take my word on the line-thin inclusion of a small stained-glass window in primary hues), especially when you've got Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as your five-star faces. The simple image has the movie's enigmatic controversy all over it.

A thrilling homage to the famous work of Saul Bass from the '50s and '60s, this caper-tastic collection of precariously stacked, jagged text and eccentric spy illustrations gets a top spot simply for its classic appeal. It doesn't hurt that the names shown represent one of the year's strongest casts.

A great example of how critical praise can elevate a poster's impact. Floating at 4,000 feet, the word "exhilarating" (quoted from the NY Times' Stephen Holden) appears to be feeling what it means. And that big, majestic blue sky holds within it the lofty dreams of that tiny speck of a man -- dancing on a wire.

In this poster lies all the sexy style of Woody Allen's latest international outing, squeezed into a box that's surrounded by text which almost echoes the endlessly inventive storyteller's signature credit font. It doesn't get much hotter than one gorgeously cropped shot of Penelope, Scarlett, and Javier, and the strategically bisected faces are subtly - or not-so-subtly - indicative of their characters' motives. I would frame this and hang it on my wall.

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