A Year in Posters: 2016

A poster can say a lot about a film, sometimes it can communicate more honestly than 3 and a half minutes of trailer footage. This selection of film posters have been chosen not just for their creative and eye-catching designs but also for the feelings they can draw out of the viewer.

Rather than haphazardly pasting every major actor in the film in a kind of Hollywood collage onto the poster and slapping on a title, these posters take that crucial step and really think about a unique way to present their film to the world.

I want to celebrate some of the posters from this year that tried something a little bit different. Amongst the reams of repetitive and identical poster designs that come out every year, this selection of film posters will showcase some of the most inspiring and bold creative choices taken in 2016.

Lo and Behold:

Film Poster for Werner Herzog film Lo and Behold

Werner Herzog’s film explores the human mind bound by modern technology and this image is both straightforwardly poignant and oddly relatable. The tangled web of cables and wires clearly demonstrate a confused, overwhelmed, and even imprisoned human kind. The isolated colour in this portrait works very well in highlighting that sometimes the only colourful aspect to modern IT can be the cables!


Film Poster for the Yorgos Lanthimos film Lobster

The noticeable empty space speaks volumes about the relationships we struggle to maintain as illustrated in Yorgos Lanthimos’ film. The man’s slightly bewildered expression as he tries to embrace something unseen is a small but important detail; eyes open, but unable to see. There is a noticeable lack of colour here too which implies an obvious emotional drought in the lives of these people.


Film Poster for the barry Jenkins film Moonlight

Although I generally dislike the contemporary  practice of drawing in an audience simply through use of a face (a shortcut to empathy), this poster demonstrates that portraits can make for excellent images when doing something with the portrait.  Alex Hibbert, Ashton Summers and Trevante Rhodes’ faces merge seamlessly into one person in this striking, neon portrait that hints at a story spanning generations, yet is distinctly modern.

Free Fire:

Film Poster for the Ben Wheatley movie Free Fire

For a movie that has not actually been released yet, this poster for Ben Wheatley’s film perfectly ‘teases’ us with its incomplete figures. Six limbs stretch out from nowhere and point at the world, each with different clothing and identities. All colourful and energetic, these hands are almost punching the air with their weapons! It’s always nice to see a hand painted film poster, even if you’re trying to achieve a realistic look.

The Handmaiden:

Film Poster for the Chan-Wook Park movie The Handmaiden

Chan-Wook Park’s mysterious and twisting film is cleverly revealed to us in this maze-like landscape. While clearly referencing the Asian classical art style, it’s full of little details that will draw you into both the poster and the plot! Such a historically focused styled poster amidst modern Photoshops and photographs really makes this one stick out.

Star Trek Beyond:

Film Poster for the Justin Lin movie Star Trek Beyond

Certainly one of the more mainstream films compared to other films on this list; the iconic faces set in a brilliant cosmic glow definitely make this an eye catcher. Thankfully this poster chose not to be like other summer blockbuster film posters and while it obviously referencing the original Star Trek the Motion Picture, this design signifies a return to the style of the beloved original series.

Birth of a Nation:

Film Poster for the Nate Parker movie The Birth of a Nation

This poster for Nate Parker’s film immediately connects with the viewer so they understand precisely what is going on in this story. The obvious yet excellently connected imagery showcases a kind of poster style that could be imitated for years to come. The crowds of red figures lined up together, set against an old parchment background expertly convey the history and the pain behind this story. In terms of design, sometimes an obvious choice is the right one.

The Childhood of a Leader:

Film Poster for the Brady Corbet movie The Childhood of a Leader

A stark and haunting poster who’s leading figure may seem monstrous but upon closer inspection we discover the figure of a child. This suitable dark and ominous poster design fits Brady Corbet’s film perfectly as it delves into the monstrous ego that can awaken deep within a person.

La La Land:

Film Poster for the Damien Chazelle movie La la Land

Both musical and theatrical in its imagery, this poster for Damien Chazelle’s La La Land invites the viewer into a jazz filled world of excitement and drama. Certainly one of the most colourful posters you’ll see around, though the harsh black lines may suggest a either the bars of separation or the vast verticality of American city life.

Certain Women:

Film Poster for the Kelly Reichardt movie Certain Women

The hand drawn aesthetic to this poster suits the soft and natural tone of Kelly Reichardt’s film. While aiming for photorealism, it does at least try for a soft and approachable design to draw the viewer into the lives of these particular ladies. Even in monochrome, the poster does not feature any predominantly dark areas in the shading, placing each of these characters in more or less equal footing.


Film Poster for the Antonio Campos movie Christine

Antonio Campos and Rebecca Hall’s film tells the harrowing tale of the on-air suicide of Christine Chubbuck and this poster presents to us the conflicting nature of TV life. The decision to go for a portrait photograph of Christine suitably highlights her fame, while also changing this up with the television set replacing her face. Appropriately, the TV weighs on her shoulders and we see the melancholic face of this national news personality, cleverly highlighting both the inner isolation and faux projection of a person.