2011 Review: Best Posters

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There are cases where the poster is better than the film it promotes – and others where it at least equals the result. So we thought we’d salute those posters that appeared this year as part of our round-up of, and farewell to, 2011. You can read about the best films of the year and the best trailers, but right now it’s all about the design geniuses who brought us the slices of eye-candy below…

If we’ve learned anything from Tracey Emin, it’s that an empty, unmade bed can be extremely evocative. It’s a lesson that Steve McQueen and his team took to heart for this teaser poster for the Michael Fassbender-starring study of desire, obsession and, yes, shame.

Spoiler: the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton on this poster is not actually a major component of the plot. But it does get across the fact that this is a story about things buried under the surface and hidden from view. And there’re bonus points for being striking and memorable too.

Angelina takes her first steps to proving herself as a writer and director with this stylish poster for her Bosnian War-set drama. The map, the blood, the silhouettes all combine to suggest that the most famous woman in the world knows what she’s doing with this whole filmmaking thing.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films had some gorgeous posters, all those reds, oranges and blues, so Marc Webb’s reboot had its work cut out. Judging by this moody teaser with its clever use of silhouette and shadows, they’re going to bring us something completely different but equally good. Looks like this one’s darker though, eh?

Gotham is falling down around our ears in the first teaser for The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s third Bat-effort. Having flipped a truck, ploughed through a few buildings and threatened a couple of ferries last time, the stakes appear to have been raised to encompass, well, the entire city. Way to escalate, Mr Nolan.

We’ve already seen that Gotham’s under threat, but it gets worse. The Dark Knight himself would appear to crumble under pressure from Bane, judging by this none-more-ominous effort. Then again, Michael Caine demonstrated back in Batman Begins that the mask is very brittle and can break after a mild knock, so maybe the Bat simply had to pull out a replacement after a slightly awkward punch. This probably doesn’t mean anything really; carry on.

Captain America has to walk a fine line in this day and age, radiating perfect patriotism to his flag and country without being obnoxious or Tea Partyish about it. This poster does a good job of that – he’s clearly a serious man about serious business, but OMG it’s totally still Cap with the shield and everything!

This works on so many levels. On one hand, the faces are slightly transparent because these psychoanalysts can all see through each other. On the other hand, it nicely gets across the shifting lines between them, as power shifts. And on a hypothetical third hand, it looks well cool. Way to go, Cronenberg.

In the words of Foxy Cleopatra, “He’s got the Midas touch, but he touched it too much / Hey Goldmember, Goldmember”. Dominic Cooper’s double role as Uday Hussein and his conscripted double got the shiniest poster of the year. If it’s meant as some sort of subliminal Oscar campaign, however, its effectiveness remains to be seen.

A graphic novel feel for this Guillermo del Toro-produced horror remake. While we’re not sure it’s a terribly good likeness of star Bailee Madison, it is a properly scary, classically horror-inspired stunner of a poster.

Baby Goose auditions for the role of Bruce Willis in Die Hard 4.0 in this cool Drive effort. The greasy top, the toothpick, the faraway stare directed at an unknown horizon – this is clearly a man who means business and is Not To Be Messed With.

Daniel Craig looks baleful and Rooney Mara weary in this first teaser for David Fincher’s Millenium adaptation. There was a bit of controversy over the toplessness – but then without controversy it would hardly be a Fincher film. And it did demonstrate that both Craig and Mara looked their respective parts, although he’s unaccountably not wearing his glasses hanging off one ear and under his chin, as he does for most of the film (SPOILER).

It’s appropriate that this looks more like a poster for a heavyweight title clash than the promo for a fantasy film. This is, after all, the instalment of the franchise where Harry and ol’ No-Nose would finally settle their dispute the old-fashioned way: with someone being blasted to a million pieces by a magic spell.

We’re not sure what to call the hybrid character on this striking effort for Clooney’s latest political fable. Cloonling? Gosney? Either way, he’s an insanely attractive man.

We’re still having a little trouble getting our head around the none-more-likeable star Meryl Streep playing the none-more-divisive Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher onscreen. This poster, however, at least established that she looked the part. Quiz question to keep you busy: which of the symbolic touches here are more Maggie: the Houses of Parliament, or those eternal pearls?

Fractured protagonist, fractured images on the poster. The result recalls the dreaminess of The Virgin Suicide, and could hardly be more indie if Ellen Page appeared somewhere on it, but it’s strangely beautiful and weirdly compelling – much like the film itself.

So it’s a gun, made of guns. This Jason Statham / Ben Foster action film is so action that the poster requires a meta-gun.

If you’re going to hang maybe the world’s biggest movie star off the world’s tallest building, you want to make sure that everyone knows you did it. That’s why this minimalist effort emphasise how very, very tall the Burj Khalifa is, while cleverly riffing on the series’ burning fuse motif.

In this sports drama, Brad Pitt’s a baseball manager facing the huge task of making his impoverished team into a winning prospect. On this poster, he’s a teensy tiny figure juxtaposed against the enormity of the baseball field. It’s a metaphor, maybe even a synecdoche! And hey, at least it looks significantly better than a poster covered in statistics.

Perhaps the best of The Muppets’ spoof posters, and definitely the best match of character to material, this shot of Sam the American Eagle as Captain America is surely what the patriotic bird has been waiting for all these years. Chris Evans never looked this good.

OK, so we’re not convinced by the tagline – too many echoes of “Titans will clash” for comfort – but this twist on the iconic illustration of evolution is beautifully used to convey the whole premise of the Apes series.

It’s a mask, it’s a knife! It’s like that Faye Dunaway scene in Chinatown, only with a mask, a knife, a mask, a knife.

It’s a nifty piece of design, AND it makes protagonist Oliver (Craig Roberts) look like he’s under water. Bonus points for hiding from the audience off-putting facts about this stunning debutant effort from director Richard Ayoade, like the fact that it’s set in Wales in the 1970s.

Part of us would love to think that the reason behind this memorable one-sheet is that they had a nice landscape shot and were determined to use it whatever the shape of the space available. Sadly, we think the real reason is a more sensible something about the world being turned around by the arrival of (the thing we won’t discuss).

Those who were worried that a Norse god couldn’t fit into the same universe as a wisecracking Iron Man or a nerdy Bruce Banner saw their fears put to rest by this poster, with the God of Thunder at his most brooding and serious. Also, cool hammer.

Who’d have thought that a picture of a man in sensible granddad glasses, made entirely of lines of code and numbers, could be one of the best posters of the year? All hail Gary Oldman and the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy gang.

Well, it definitely incorporates the “life” part of the title, somehow immediately showing us love, birth, the parent-and-child relationship and nature at work. But where’s the tree, that’s what we want to know. And the dinosaurs! One would think that if your film has dinosaurs you should put them on the poster.

Here’s that tree that was missing from the Tree Of Life poster, composed of the hand and paw prints of all the inhabitants of Matt Damon’s new property. So that’s himself, the kids and a menagerie of zoo animals. Stylish and informative!

A contender for Greatest Image Pixar Has Ever Produced, which is saying something, this is a thing of beauty: look at that babbling brook, and the detail of the heather. We’re yet to see it, but we have the feeling that this film is going to do more for redheads than anything since the appearance of Jessica Rabbit.