25. Men, Women, & Children
Jason Reitman’s alarmist slice-of-digital-life ensemble film is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. The theme of contemporary isolation gets a much better showcase in this gorgeously low-key one-sheet, with the two lead teenagers lost amid the modern, hyper-connected squall.
24. The Maze Runner
A clean, thrilling image that vaguely recalls platformer videogames, with just a touch of trendy dystopia. The clearest message you get from this poster: ”We might not be The Hunger Games, but at least we’re not Mortal Instruments.”
A big star playing a famous character: It?s a straightforward sales pitch, smartly underplayed with a bold color palette: Monochrome, with a dash of blood red and green-devil eyes.
22. The Seth Rogen 2014 Duet
A pair of twisted buddy movies, a pair of dorm room-ready posters. The Interview art gets points for the propaganda aesthetic, while Neighbors benefits from the impeccably demographic-baiting pairing (new parent vs. übermensch millennial.) Like the movies they?re pitching, they demonstrated how Rogen is savvily twisting his slacker persona in intriguing new directions.
21. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
How do you sell a Farsi-language vampire western-noir synthpop horror-romance? With a simple poster that lightly hints at the thrills awaiting in the movie, complete with a well-chosen bloodstain under the last letter of the title.
Cool sunglasses, bro! The chic retro-newsprint gives this poster a groovy energy unique to this year. There?s something simultaneously scary and goofily over-the-top about this poster, right down to the near-parody tagline.
19. Behaving Badly
Wait, she?s in this movie? And her? And her? And him? And is that?oh yeah, that?s him! Wait, Dylan McDermott? Horror-show photoshopping mixed with purple neon and a negative-entendre tagline make this the year?s so-bad-it?s-wall-worthy poster.
18. Fifty Shades of Grey
There?s something lightly funny about pitching the Fifty Shades of Grey movie—which is already synonymous with SEXSEXSEX—with such a restrained, bleached-out image. But there?s a visceral punch in the picture?s formal aesthetic, and the freaky fog engulfing the city in the background plants a seed of freaky ambiguity. Teehee, seed!
17. The Babadook
??Funny title,?? you think. Then you look at this poster, and you think: ??Not such a funny title.??
16. The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino hasn?t even started filming his ensemble Western yet, but this poster is already a must-have for cinephiles. And not just because of the bold, blood-in-the-snow imagery: The promise of a new film shot in Super CinemaScope is enough to get any film lover waiting in line a year early.
15. The Other Woman
Years from now, we?ll look back on this as the moment the emoji era reached its alpha and omega.
13. Things Riding on Things That Don?t Usually Ride on Things
Question: What do Transformers: Age of Extinction and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes have in common? Answer: Absolutely nothing. The latter is one of this summer?s most thoughtful big-budget blockbusters; the former is the worst movie Michael Bay has ever made without Ben Affleck. But the two movies do have eerily identical posters, showing series stars Optimus Prime and Caesar rearing up on their respective steeds.
12. Blue Ruin
A tough, stylish, gritty little poster for a tough, stylish, gritty little movie.
11. The Purge: Anarchy
OH! I GET IT! IT?S A METAPHOR FOR AMERICA OR WHATEVER. No points for subtlety, but extra credit for a robust sense of humor.
10. Expendables 3
Speaking of a robust sense of humor! I don?t know what possessed the makers of Expendables 3 to snap a photo of one of the most beloved action stars in movie history, wearing a tightly fitted onesie and modeling an arms-crossed-on-the-cover-of-a-self-help-book smirk. But I fully support it. This is the picture you want to show to the aliens, when you try to explain who we are. That foot! On the apple box!
9. Kill the Messenger
Jeremy Renner?s little-seen true-life thriller deserves a second look, if only because it gave us one of the boldest posters in recent memory—an immediately memorable image which also ties in perfectly with the movie, which explores the CIA?s connection to the crack cocaine epidemic.
8. John Wick
7. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Yes, another poster with a firearms pileup, but whereas the Purge 2 poster went over-the-top, this snazzy one-sheet for next year?s superspy thriller is snazzy and GQ-worthy.
6. Inherent Vice
Paul Thomas Anderson, Thomas Pynchon, pink neon, legs: Witness the poster from 2014 most likely to pop up in college bookstores for years to come.
This Brazilian poster for the high-octane band thriller perfectly captures the film?s high-wire mixture of anxious tension and suicidal ambition. Excellent use of negative (orange) space.
4. Pictures of Scarlett Johansson?s Face
A big year for ScarJo close-ups. Lucy is brighter and blunter than Under the Skin, which ripples with arty shadows, but they both use their star?s famous features to make an appealing pitch for out-there concepts. Give the edge to Under the Skin for its ethereal beauty?or maybe give the edge to Lucy for stamping Johansson?s forehead with cheeseball pseudo-science.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
Post-apocalypse? Mad Max freaking invented the post-apocalypse. Which probably explains why this poster—the standout from Comic-Con 2014—possesses a swagger that?s been dangerously lacking in Armageddon cinema lately. What a lovely day, indeed!
2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay--Part 1
Someday there will be no more Hunger Games movies, which means someday there will be no more incredible Hunger Games advertising campaigns. Fortunately, that day is still a year away—and the posters for Mockingjay 1 set a new high standard, mixing high-fashion gloss with fascistic propagandizing in a series of funny-scary images that feel much more radical and stylistically adventurous than the bleakly gritty movie they’re pitching.
1. The Fault in Our Stars
Swooning yet subdued, joyful yet melancholy, cinematic yet realistic. There?s a lot going on in the poster for everyone?s favorite kids-with-cancer teen romance. What makes it the best poster of 2014 is how it steers right into the skid of a premise that might?ve seemed unmarketable a few years ago: The oxygen tubes around Shailene Woodley?s face speak to the movie?s harsh truths, while the lovey-dovey nuzzling hints at the desperately romantic energy stirring beneath the teen flick?s surface.