1 of 25
25. The Butler
The cool poster for Lee Daniels' historical soap opera mixes together highbrow affectations with scrawled-text that seems more appropriate for a horror movie. Smartly balances the dynamic American-flagged figure with the attention-getting text. Also, steady repetition assures that even a casual glance at this poster will inform you that it is, in fact, a Lee Daniels picture.
2 of 25
24. Man of Steel
Coming into 2013, Superman had a troubled cinematic heritage, with goofy '80s movies and a little-loved '00s reboot. The marketing emphasized a new stripped-down approach, and the best poster is almost abstract, reducing the hero to a distant red blur in a murky cloudscape. Simple and profound — and quite different from the actual film's symphony of incoherent destruction.
3 of 25
So you've got Liam Neeson doing Taken on a plane? Best to keep things simple, then. There's Neeson looking squinty-tough. He's got a very particular set of skills, and one of those skills is maintaining perfect aim while falling down the aisle of a plane that appears to be in the process of crashing.
4 of 25
Jake Gyllenhaal has a city in his head. And a spider is attacking that city. Or something? Tells you nothing about the movie. Unless it tells you everything. Sure looks cool, though.
5 of 25
21. Bad Milo
The retro poster for the butt-demon horror comedy is a perfect goof on vintage cool (Sunglasses! Skateboard!) and it hints at the film's Gremlins-y tone. That butt-demon looks almost adorable, which is a significant thing to say about a butt-demon.
6 of 25
20. Jodorowsky's Dune
From the poster maestros at Mondo comes this totally awesome and proudly idiosyncratic poster. The title of this documentary refers to cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky's attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's Dune. Rather than soft-selling the source material, the poster piles nerdery on geekery and refracts it through a hallucinatory acid-trip series of visuals. Not for everyone, but definitely perfect for someone.
7 of 25
19. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A study in building anticipation for a sequel. Take the most memorable character from your first movie. Cover him in war paint. Make him stare at the camera, with a glare that reads ''This Time It's Personal.'' The title could've been cooler, but those intense Andy Serkis eyes speak volumes.
8 of 25
18. Room 237
An excellent example of turning a disadvantage into a virtue. This fanciful Shining documentary occupied uncertain legal ground, since it's composed entirely of footage from Stanley Kubrick's horror film. So the poster devotes a quarter of its real estate to what amounts to an eye-catching Surgeon General's Warning. And the simple visual simultaneously recalls the original film's hedge maze while also hinting at the endless maze of interpretations in Room 237.
9 of 25
17. Fake Thor Poster
A fantasy shipper's Photoshop job that was inadvertently used as genuine advertising in Shanghai. Vastly more interesting than any of the official Thor posters.
10 of 25
16. Last Days on Mars
The sci-fi thriller was, by most accounts, terrible. But it produced some memorable posters, most of all this blood-red one-sheet. That removed helmet is one of the more immediately freaky images of the year. Offers a teasing look at what it would look like if Ralph Steadman made a gross space-action cartoon.
11 of 25
15. You're Next
The August release led its marketing with posters showing the animal-masked home invaders, which promised a more straightforward horror film. This deliriously ornate poster is a better hint at the demented flick's genre-crossing delights, reconfiguring the mansion set of the film as a terrifying and murderous map. Can Parker Brothers put out a You're Next board game, please?
12 of 25
14. Star Trek Into Darkness
One of many character posters made for J.J. Abrams' reboot-sequel, this Spock-centric image is the best demonstration of Abrams' color-blasted aesthetic. The volcanic explosion around Spock is a visual wonder, contrasted with the eerie look of peaceful acceptance on Spock's face. (Props to Zachary Quinto, doing his best imitation of the climax of Toy Story 3.)
13 of 25
How do you promote an art film from a European director that explores one woman's erotic journey through a series of interconnected vignettes? Follow a time-honored tradition: Ignore everything in that question besides ''erotic'' and sell the sex, baby! The NSFW series of character posters finds the cast of Lars Von Trier's latest doing their best O faces. Variously sexy, scary, and kinda funny.
14 of 25
Looks like an Eraserhead homage, but the monochrome visual is an apt introduction to Bruce Dern's Woody Grant, a character who seems to be physically fading away.
15 of 25
11. August: Osage County
That's Julia Roberts attacking Meryl Streep. Julia Roberts. Meryl Streep. Fighting Octagon-style. Look closer, and you spot Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, and Ewan McGregor. Here's a film that promises two things: A dynamite cast and the chance to see that cast squabble like 6-year-olds. Points removed for that awful tagline. That tagline is so bad Meryl Streep seems to be attempting to jump on it. Like that tagline is a grenade, and she's jumping on the grenade to protect us from ever having to read that grenade again.
16 of 25
10. X-Men: Days of Future Past
The plot of next year's X ultra-sequel is ridiculously complicated. But these images are smartly straightforward, conjuring up the essential intrigue in seeing two generations of X-Men onscreen. Even better: The double-vision aesthetic lets you put Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender on the same poster (while helpfully obscuring James McAvoy's Lieutenant Dan '70s Professor X get-up.) The best and simplest sequel tease of the year.
17 of 25
9. The Wolf of Wall Street
Visually, it's perfect chaos. The slight blur, the off-kilter angle, the party people in the background. Hints at the overflowing debauchery in Martin Scorsese's white-collar Goodfellas. Also tantalizingly promises an oh-so-rare appearance by Fun DiCaprio (not to be confused with Serious-Faced DiCaprio.)
18 of 25
Excellent use of extreme negative space. The image of a lonely floating astronaut conjures up immediate terror, terror that is mildly ameliorated by the calming presence of the names Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
19 of 25
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
A poster that promises the most Wes Anderson-y Wes Anderson movie ever, complete with the titular dollhouse hotel (including subterranean passages) and a cast composed of every Wes Anderson actor ever. Earns bonus points for the bold decision to mix bright pink with earthy brown.
20 of 25
Oh hey, you love killer whales right? Free Willy? Shamu? SO CUTE AMIRIGHT? Well guess what, sucker: You're looking at this poster, and now this orca will haunt your dreams. A shockingly effective shot that simultaneously turns the titular Blackfish into a figure of terror and of mournful regret — which perfectly captures the tone of a documentary that casts the whales as victims and as psychologically damaged attackers. You'll never read the phrase ''killer whale'' the same way again.
21 of 25
5. Blue Is the Warmest Color
The stark color scheme — bright neon blue against the star's pale skin and a blank wall — makes this the perfect freshman-dorm-room essential.
22 of 25
4. Spring Breakers
Most of the marketing materials for Harmony Korine's pop crime opera emphasized the film's kiss-kiss-bang-bang pleasures: Sex, violence, sexy violence. This subtler poster comes closer to capturing the film's unique mixture of B-movie cool and almost mawkish romanticism, complete with a sunset that in context plays almost Gatsby-esque. ''Gatsby-esque'' is not a word you expect to use in context of an image with girls wearing DTF sweatpants. But there you have it.
23 of 25
3. 12 Years a Slave
When you've got an attention-getting title, you can opt for a simple dynamic image. Hard to think of a title from 2013 more immediately descriptive — and terrifying — than 12 Years a Slave. The visual emphasizes the lead character's desperation, while simultaneously promising a kinetic take on a bleak chapter in America's history.
24 of 25
The Godzilla reboot seemed like a much worse idea before Comic-Con 2013, where the film's marketing rollout included this eerie visual. In a summer filled with destruction imagery, this poster manages to make the promise of ultimate devastation even more appealing. And the broken buildings forming into the iconic Giant Lizard is a perfect tease: Godzilla's there, but he's also not there.
25 of 25
1. Catching Fire
The ace marketing for the Hunger Games sequel reached a stirring high point with this one-sheet. Simultaneously resembling Soviet propaganda and Renaissance painting, the poster places your heroic best friend Jennifer Lawrence high on a mountaintop. There's just a bit of subtlety (see the Mockingjay wings in the clouds behind her?) mixed with over-the-top iconography (Mountains! Blue sky! Perfect bow and arrow!) Extra impressive: Taking a throwaway line from Catching Fire and turning it into a biblical tagline.