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« 'Dark Knight' Won't Hit China, Loses Top Spot on DVD | Main | This Weekend in Theaters - 'Bedtime,' 'Button,' 'Marley,' 'Valkyrie,' 'The Spirit,' and More »
Thursday
Dec252008

The Best Movie Posters of 2008

It's time to take a look back at 2008 in movie posters. We're unabashed fans of movie posters here at The Big Picture, because they're probably the best thing about the job. Maybe half the movies you see in a given year are ones you'll recommend, and maybe half of the trailers are average or better. But movie posters are their own animal, and very often some of the best posters are for the worst movies.

The theory on that would be that bad movies need better posters to sell them, and since posters, trailer, and now even full movies are advertisements for something else (why do you think Marvel is planting Avengers hints in its movies three years early?), the better the advertisement, the more people you'll get to try your product that might have otherwise stayed away.

As we've pointed out time and time again, If movie posters didn't work, the studios wouldn't use them.

However, it's not just bad movies that use posters effectively; three of our top five movies of the year are represented in our list, as well. The clear winner of 2008 is The Dark Knight, which has the best marketing scheme ever devised for a movie. If there's one out there better, I'd love to see it. We selected six posters from that film's incredible catalog, and we could've picked a few more.

These are in alphabetical order, not by their ranking, but wouldn't it be wildly coincidental if the alphabetical list were the actual ranking? Oh, and we also limited our list to films released in either the U.S. or the U.K. in the past 12 months.

All of these posters and more can be found at IMP Awards.

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Reader Comments (29)

Super good list. I have to say, The Dark Knight has some of the best Batman posters I've ever seen. Totally in love with the "It's all part of the plan" image. - http://iconart.ca

Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Payne

I'm loving all of these posters, seriously. Why didn't we in the U.S. get that awesome "Bank Job" poster? So much better than the one over here. Also, the funniest poster of the year has to go to "Zack and Miri"- I was laughing so hard when I saw that image for the first time.

Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVince

The Bank Job poster is a quad, and we don't normally get those in the U.S. at all. Not for exhibition, anyway. It's all the 27" X 41" format here. Euro posters are usually more interesting, and this is another example, even though the U.S. poster for the same movie was pretty good.

Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Registered CommenterGet The Big Picture

At least three of the posters are brazen knock-offs of the Saul Bass style. Anyone want to take a stab at which three?

Friday, December 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPete

the wrestler?

Friday, December 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermisc

1. Burn After Reading--sheer plagarism/rip off
2. Fear of the Dark
3. Bottle Shock--diluted Bass

Saturday, December 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPete

The funniest poster of the year is that Goliath one with the dude holding the cat up.

And as a graphic designer myself, who gives a shit if people are ripping off Saul Bass. I'd rather see that then some beeble bop, over-stylized graffiti shit selling everything from tampons to tea. At least Burn After Reading has a concept behind the use.

Saturday, December 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJP

WTF is so special about the Australia poster? Awful. Skeletor-corpse face mid-run is not at all attractive.

Sunday, December 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLA boy

Some really good ones and some utter muck, as a graphic designer i felt compeled to do a short review of each.

Australia - Nothing Special

The Bank Job - Totally unoriginal, can't see why this is on the list

Blindness #1 - Using a eye exam chart as it main ident, this would have been more appropriate for a film called "Partially Sighted"

Blindness #2 - Nice photo, I haven't seen the film but why are the letters BIDS blurred leaving us with LNNES what's that trying to tell us??

Bottle Shock - Lazy

Burn After Reading - Saul Bass homage [or is it a rip off]

Choke - Lazy

Cloverfield - Nice

Batman - Very clever best of the year

Donkey Punch - Since I know nothing about the film it's hard to judge but it doesn't do much for me

Doomsday - Could have been better, i think they should have used the same style but maybe used a close up for one of the characters faces would be less fractured looking and it would have had a stronger identity

The Escapist - Looks good, althought the sections remind me of a scene from The Thomas Crown Affair

Fear Of The Dark - Saul Bass again this time with a very poor looking illustration of a face

Funny Games # 1 - This I like a lot, the text is great, very nice effect on the image, good photo, the layout is interesting I like the use of dead space at the top and a nice crop at the bottom

Funny Games # 2 - Not as good, I won't go see this on the strength of this poster

A girl Cut In Two - OK, I like the background colour and effect, nice layout of the text

Goliath - Nope don't get it, if it's meant to say cheap then it's a complete success

Gran Torino - Great photo, looks like a classic Clint Eastwood pose

The Happening - Great idea, the layout really works and the colours are great

Harold & Kumar 2 - Why is this on the list, unless someone likes unicorns??

In Bruges - Great, uses the idea of a post card featuring the charm of Brugee with blood splattered over it

Man On A Wire - Another great poster, really captures the essence of the film it's a cinematic poster

Max Payne - 300 etc have had much stronger visuals than this average serving

Prom Night - Average horror poster, maybe it a homage to old horror posters?

Rambo - Very Poor

Let The Right One In - I like this, it's the colours that make it for me

Sarah Marshall - Suits the film so as a poster it works

Quantum Of Solace - Great typeface very cool looking and the photo is fantastic, still have no interest in seeing the film

Step Brother - Love the idea for the photo, it's a classic family pose, text is very poor

The Strangers - The second one is ok

Valkyrie - I know Tom Cruise is short and I know he like's to pretend it's taller but come on he's fooling no one but himself with this mess of a poster

Angle Devil - Utter muck, a 10 year old could photoshop that in 10 minutes and they wouldn't even have had to use the program before

The Wackness - I like it but I'm sure something similar has been done before

Zach And Miri - OK

Monday, December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Bad choice with Valkyrie. Ocean's 11 anyone? Terrible.
Nothing special about the poster for Quantum of Sootface
The Happening is so bad a film that even the poster makes me wanna retch when I see it now.

Monday, December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPoD

Pretty good list except that some of those Dark Knight posters shouldOH SHIT I HAVE TO GO O THE TOILETnot be there, especially the one with batman holding the batarang.

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Monday, December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Spam Master

Dave - I don't think you understood some of these posters. The "Harold & Kumar 2" poster is probably my favorite, but you'd need to know the movie to understand why it's so good. Either you didn't see the movies, or you have no sense of humor.

And the Angel/Devil posters are my second favorite.... did you know that they're posters for "W."? I thought they were very well done, and very much related to the tone of Stone's film. He didn't really have a biased opinion of Bush, one way or the other. It was very even and the audience could decide their own opinion of the man. The posters reflect that.

Monday, December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

John - I haven't seen "W" or "Harold & Kumar 2" (yet, W is on my list of films to see).

The Harold & Kumar poster seems like a cart before the horse scenario, the poster should try and draw people in and encourage them to go see the film, what's the point in having an "in joke" as a trailer to the poster it tells me nothing about the film - design is meant to inform.

I think there are much better posters for W, particularly the photo of Josh Brolin with his feet on the desk of the oval office, it's clever, funny and it sums up what a lot of people thought of the way he did his job - would anyone else agree?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Glad to see that the poster from "Donkey Punch" made your list. I saw that movie at Sundance in January 2008 and loved it, and the poster is a perfect complement to the story. I'm hoping it gets released in the U.S.; I think it would do well.

Friday, January 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMary in Dallas

We have a winner in my eyes!

WWNPD is hilarious i made it my desktop background.

Doogie Houser is the man! lol

All of these are great! awesome post.

Friday, January 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDrug Testing

You might also check out the Internet Movie Poster Awards.

Monday, February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMEL

... which I just saw your link for. Never mind...

Monday, February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMEL

I actually really love the first Goliath Poster,Its my favorite.

Thursday, March 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHayley

While these posters are nice they are nothing compared to vintage movie posters of the 1920's and 30's. I have been collecting old movie posters for 15 years and nothing impresses me more than those pre-war posters.

Ralph DeLuca
Madison, NJ
http://www.ralphdeluca.com

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLin

Great effort and worthy . Comparatively almost all good posters exhibited. New trend of posters ca be experienced through this site.

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Friday, July 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPIZZA

i like ramboo -- i like the collection Movies Collection

Saturday, October 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwatchmoviesonlineforfree

Nic kidman looks a bit retouched.... boring poster as well + bad movie

Sunday, December 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIvan
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