Top 10 Posters of 2011

     December 25, 2011


The best movie posters come from Mondo, other art-boutiques, and individual artists who take their passion for a film and turn it into something that every fan has to own.  Studios don’t have that luxury.  They need to sell a movie to an audience that has no idea what they’re in for.  They need to find a way to appeal to everyone, or at least get their attention.  Usually studios go for the dull route of floating movie star heads and/or blue-orange color schemes.  My picks for the best studio-produced posters of 2011 were the posters that went beyond and tried to do something better.

Hit the jump to check out my choices for the Top 10 Posters of 2011.

[Note: Only the poster had to come out this year, not the film.  Also, I'm referring to the studio as the designer of these posters, but I'm aware that the design is outsourced to ad companies.]


10. Haywire


Gina Carano may be a star among MMA fans, but she’s unknown to mainstream audiences.  Relativity used her relative anonymity to their advantage with this teaser poster and had her character straddle some poor/lucky chap.  It’s a nice way to sell the sex and violence but without showing Carano’s lovely face.

9. The Devil’s Double


Auric Goldfinger may have gone overboard, but Lionsgate got an eye-catching poster out of it.  You instantly understand that The Devil’s Double is a tale of excessive wealth and violence and you don’t even need to read the crappy tagline hidden underneath Dominic Cooper‘s chair.

8. Conan the Barbarian


Conan the Barbabrian standing on top of a mountain of skulls.  Why couldn’t the movie grasp this simple and badass concept?

7. The Artist


I see this poster and I immediately think, “Elegant.”  I’m not sure how The Weinstein Company could sell or even explain in a poster that The Artist is a silent film.  But what they came up with does a great job of sending the viewer back to an earlier age, which is what director Michael Hazanavicius does with his critically acclaimed movie.

6. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


You had me at “Giant skull screaming bullets.”  The only reason it’s not higher on the list is because it doesn’t tell people it’s for a new Ghost Rider movie, and provides no way to find that out.

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes


There’s no title on this poster either, but you can at least discern that it’s probably for a Planet of the Apes movie.  And honestly, it doesn’t really need a title when you have an image that perfectly sums up the idea of the movie.

4. 13 Assassins


Like the poster for Haywire, 13 Assassins has the advantage of starring no one American audiences would know.  What makes this poster brilliant is that it takes a somewhat generic title, shows that the film has samurai and bloody action, and does so in the style of Ukiyo-e prints.

3. Hobo with a Shotgun


First, this will probably be the last time Rutger Hauer‘s name is emblazoned across the top of a poster.  Second, this poster does everything short of showing a shotgun-obliterated penis in order to tell the viewer “This movie is insane.  Enjoy.”

2. Young Adult


The poster doesn’t really convey the dark humor, but it’s still a devilishly clever image that puts a young adult author inside a young adult novel-style cover.  The clever part comes in when you see the movie understand that Theron’s character, writer Mavis Gary, projects her mean-spirited, self-righteous attitude on to her young adult novel’s main character.  It’s a hall of sad, petty mirrors.

1. Shame


No tagline and no people.  Just sad, crumpled bed sheets and the title in small letters with a blurb at the top and the names of the actors at the bottom.  Not only do you have to stop to see what the crumpled bedsheets are about, you have to stop and look to read the small title.  And then you’re left to wonder, “What could be so shameful about crumpled bedsheets?”  It’s a perfect image for those who have seen the movie, and it’s an intriguing image for those who haven’t.

Monday: Top 10 Posters of 2011

Tuesday: Top 10 Trailers of 2011

Wednesday: Best Performances, Directing, and other Miscellany of 2011

Thursday: Worst 5 of 2011

Friday: Top 10 of 2011

Around The Web
  • Eddie7833

    Your picks suck

    • Liam_H

      I know there is a tendency to criticize Goldberg on this site(some of it warranted) but could you come up with a reason for you comment. Otherwise your opinion deserves the same.

      • Eddie7833

        I work in a movie theater and handle posters and either some of these are fan made or for international markets because have you seen the actual teaser and final one-sheet of ghost rider? They look nothing like that as for posters that look beautiful in my opinion is Disney.Pixars Brave teaser and The girl with the dragon tattoo teaser.

      • ScottX

        “The best movie posters come from Mondo, other art-boutiques, and individual artists who take their passion for a film and turn it into something that every fan has to own.” The very first line. So… that means you don’t know how to read?

      • mark tornits


        “My picks for the best studio-produced posters of 2011 were the posters that went beyond and tried to do something better.”

        maybe you should read the whole paragraph….. fail.

    • Dodge_hickey

      @Liam_H: I actually agree with you here, I am not one to defend Matt but I am sick of seeing these comments everytime I come on here….If they dont like him, switch site!

      @Eddie7833: I heard that excuse a thousand times on Matt’s articles from different people, come up with a better excuse or go to another site

  • Josh

    I’m okay with a lot of these picks. I do wish that The Cabin in the Woods made it on the Top 10 but, hey, to each their own.

    • john

      I agree, the Cabin in the Woods poster is great.

  • john

    Great picks in Shame, Young Adult, and The Artist.

    I don’t like the posters for Ghost Rider or Conan the Barbarian. There were far better posters this year, in my opinion.

    Two of my favorite posters that weren’t on this list were from Super 8 and Moneyball.

    • Fravit

      Actually those two (along with Shame) were probably my favorite two picks here. It’s too bad Conan was pretty lousy and Ghost Rider likely will be the same. But awesome posters.

  • Jimmy D

    “Apes will rise” even without q franchise to stand on that poster is able to convay the entire idea of the films idea with that image! Bloody hell i hope a sequel shows us on all fours taking it like a “man”

  • Yoren

    Does anyone know where I would be able to buy that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance poster? I’ve been trying to find one but I’m not having any luck. Are they just special prints that aren’t sold or something?

  • Top 10 List

    Devils Double and Ghost rider posters are awesome.These are good inclusion.

  • Ryan

    Great picks, Matt.

    I would also include Drive and its stylish cursive pink font that conveys an 80s neon vibe perfectly.

  • Dodge_hickey

    I loved The Hobbit poster, but yeah I agree with some of those (The Artist, Hobo and 13 assains)

  • joe kerr

    i think the GR poster is great, it is fairly discreet given the bad rep the first movie got, so when you see it you say “wow, badass poster” and then you realize that its for a Ghost rider movie you say “i will give this one a shot”

  • Bobmann

    Take out Conan, put in The Dark Knight Poster #2
    He probably didn’t want to put it in because he seems like a person who doen’t really like to conform with the majority, but you have to give credit where credit is due.

    It’s original and you really get the vibe of the movie from it, its not just a picture letting everyone know that the movie is coming.

  • nelson

    how is drive not here?

  • Dave

    Just from the few Matt Goldberg articles, it seems like he doesn’t like The Dark Knight Rises. Every article about TDKR Matt has written has a scathing theme to it, so I’m not surprised that he didn’t include any TDKR poster in this list.

  • chaos….reigns

    Honestly outside of Shame, and The Artist this is a pretty lame list. A better rounded out top eight would have Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Iron Lady, Melancholia, The Skin I Live In, Whinnie the Pooh’s boat poster, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Pina, and Alps

  • Hiro the Eighth Samurai (and 14th Assassin)

    I have no problem with any of these choices, with the exception of the one for Ghostrider. For me, it’s rather generic and doesn’t hold my interest for more than a second at most.

    But the rest of the list is good. I particularly like the posters for Young Adult, 13 Assassins and Hobo With a Shotgun.

    And the one for Devil’s Double grabs my attention every time I see it, although I have yet to see the movie. Perhaps I’ll rent it…

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  • dawko

    And where is the TDKR with batmans mask broken and bane in the back ???

  • Harsh

    great list but drive was a rather surprising omission.Im sure you have your reasons but i was just wondering why that didnt make it to this list.To my mind it conveys exactly what the film is about(and thats not easy given the kind of mash-up cocktail drive is).The font alone deserves an oscar.

    Oh And Melancholia was good too

  • Findley

    I didn’t see the film, but I really liked the poster for “One Day.”

    (Why do people expect to see posters for films that don’t come out until 2012? (The Hobbit? TDKR? Duh…)

  • Badgerboy

    Although I do agree with a few of these picks, I feel like an article/feature like this should be written by a professional designer. Theres a million different intricacies that are used to convey concepts; not just cool looks.

    Personally I was pretty damn enthralled by the posters for Drive and The Tree of Life. Great use of minimalism and overal color tone.

  • Yoren

    Does anyone know where I can buy that Ghost Rider poster? I can’t find it anywhere on the internet any help would be appreciated.

  • Patrick Nehoda

    Are you kidding? No one knows who is in Haywire? Ewan Mcgreggor, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, and ANtonio Banderas? Did you even look at who was in the movie?

  • sal

    Cool list! Here’s mine!

  • John

    Um, The Weinstein Company deserves no credit for that “The Artist” poster…it’s the same poster they used in France.