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The 50 Best Movie Posters of 2013

Glenn here with my yearly tradition of counting down 2013's best movie posters. I've done this for the last however many years at my own blog crowning such gorgeous designs as An Over-Simplification of Her Beauty, Here I AmThe Runaways, and Antichristbut this year we've shipped it on over to The Film Experience. I've gotten a bit of a reputation as "the poster guy" due to being one of the only people online who seemed to look at poster art in details and with any sort of critical eye. Thankfully that's not so much the case anymore with more and more websites starting features and writing lists dedicated to key art. For once I was ahead of the curve!

This year's list was remarkably easy to compile. Perhaps it goes hand in hand with being a good year for film in general, but 2013 was an excellent year for the art of movie posters. I didn't have to scrounge around for titles to finish the list. In fact, despite the list being a whopping 50 titles long, I still had to leave some out. It will become obvious that I have a thing for horror and indie titles because I feel they have to work harder at convincing audiences to give them the time of day. Still, the lack of Hollywood blockbusters isn't me being contrarian or anti-populist, but just reflecting the rather lacklustre year in that department. But, hey, if it means I get to share the likes of Zero Charisma, Simon Killer, Mystery Road and more with you then I'm okay with that.



Firstly, some caveats: I only include official posters. No fan designs - if I did then the above Sam Smith design for Spring Breakers with its Miami Vice hombre colour scheme would be numbers one-seven. That also means to Alamo Drafthouse specialty posters. Also missing will be Nymphomaniac, which I am considering a 2014 release and, thus, ineligible. I mean, you've gotta draw the line somewhere, right? Film title links lead to larger version to feast your eyes upon.

50. Errors of the Human Body: For its strange, unethical beauty.
49. In Fear: For its visual trickery.
48. Texas Chainsaw 3D: For its gruesome inventiveness.
47. As I Lay Dying: For its literary beginnings.

46. The Darkside: For its haunted minimalism.
45. Blue Caprice: For its sleek, quiet terror.
44. Lee Daniels’ The Butler: For its strange, eye-catching use of iconography.
43. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: For its grandeur.

42. Rewind This!: For its retro blast from the past.
41. Blue is the Warmest Colour: For its Instagram eroticism.
40. White Reindeer: For its X-rated X-mas.
39. Elles: For its black beauty.

38. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints: For its painterly strangeness.
37. I Am Divine: For its in-your-face queerness.
36. Mystery Road: For its sparse, modern western vibe.
35. Animosity: For its abrasiveness.

34. Leave Me Like You Found Me: For its neat central visual.
33. Evil Dead: For its grand, ball-busting chutzpah.
32. Leviathan: For its beguiling, apocalyptic natural darkness.
31. Bastards: For its red, roughed up film-noir look.

30. Zero Charisma: For its hi-fi design for lo-fi movie.
29. Grabbers: For its humour and not taking the easy road.
28. Stoker: For its intricateness and making me look twice.
27. The Great Gatsby: For its decadence and Debecki’s art deco pose.

26. The Dirties: For its thematic and relevant embrace of pop-minimalism.
25. Computer Chess: For its engaging comical use of retro imagery.
24. Upstream Color: For its actors looking like twisting DNA.
23. F**k for Forest: For its cheap, but graphic conceit.

22. Trance: For its explosive graphic edge.
21. The Selfish Giant: For not giving into grim imagery for such a grim tale.
20. The Conjuring: For its old school aesthetic and Lily Taylor’s captivating face.
19. You’re Next: For its game-playing and uniqueness.

18. The Institute: For its ethereal twist on “face in the sky”.
17. Blackrock: For taking this Deliverance poster and making it feel fresh.
16. Maniac: For being genuinely queasy and unsettling and no bad Photoshop or Drive rip-offs.
15. Blackfish: For its quiet, oversized mystery.

14. I’m So Excited: For its hyper-colored, sexual feast.
13. Stranger by the Lake: For its hyper-colored sexual feast.
12. Spring Breakers: For its simple storytelling through images.
11. Side Effects: For not turning its concept into a joke. For genuine menace.

10. Stoker: For the creepy, reflective play on the body and identity.
9. Simon Killer: For its hypnotic quality.
8. Continental: For its (ahem) cheekiness and panache.

7. Kiss of the Damned: For being so in tune with its film. One of the industry’s best designers.
6. The Bling Ring: For so succinctly, and comically, selling its materialistic satire through character.
5. Berberian Sound Studio: For its 35mm horror nightmare. A twisted terror.

4. Sightseers: For a cutesy concept that’s entirely relevant and not making it cheap.
3. Jodorowsky’s Dune: For being breathtaking by actually making a poster for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune.
2. The Wolverine: For using its film’s setting as a means of doing something new and unique. For not flubbing it with bad Photoshop and inappropriate text.

1. Spring Breakers: For the neon. For the pose. For the tagline. For being iconic, dangerous, youthful, and totally in spirit with the film.

And that's that! I could also share the worst posters of the year - trust me: that list is also quite long - but I think we'll leave it with the positives. What designs piqued your interest in 2013? Did I miss any? It's very likely that I did, but I'm also happy with the list as it stands. 

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Reader Comments (13)

The Nymphomaniac poster. The parenthesis that look like a vagina. Easily the best poster I saw all year.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

A fine list (and love your descriptions). The Great Beauty also had two excellent posters, I thought: a red one with Toni Servillo walking in a white suit, and the classical statue with Servillo seated and the film's title in big bold yellow.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

"Her" red poster with Joaquin's face on it is definitely a top ten worthy for me.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I bought the #12 a few months back. Love it.

The Bastards poster works even better when after you watch it and compare its beats to Chinatown. Even the posters share a similar quality.

I present the You & The Night poster. It made Cahiers top 10 and was at Cannes last year. Not sure if it is ever coming to the states but its trailer and this poster have me curious.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

These are all great choices (I especially love that poster for The Bling Ring). I also really like that Eraserhead-lite-ish poster for Nebraska, of Dern's profile with the wild hair.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Henry, as mentioned at the top NYMPHOMANIAC is for most people a 2014 release so I didn't include it. Next year, however...

Suzanne, something about that NEBRASKA poster always irked me. Like, very deliberately "look how craaazy he is with the hair and the facial expression." Also, the ERASERHEAD poster is one of my favourites so there's no messing with that!

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

What;s sad about this is that most of the posters picked in here are from indies that have limited marketing money. It's sad because I wish studios would let filmmakers have more say in the way they present their film through their posters instead of having a marketing agency decide, so we are stuck with floating heads or badly Photoshopped collages and disproportionate limbs on our movie stars.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCris

I love this feature so i'm totally on board with hearing the worst of the year too.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

I don't really see a crazy expression on Dern. I just see hair and a profile. It also reminds me of the poster for A Face in the Crowd.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

The #28 Stoker is my favorite of the year, though I find the ones for The Bling Ring and Gatsby just as memorable. I hadn't seen that one for Selfish Giant - that's great - and of course your #3 is pretty incredible.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

I loved the other one for Ain't Them Bodies Saints. A little too Instagrammy, maybe, but beautiful nonetheless

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLucky

The advance poster for "Saving Mr. Banks," with Walt Disney having Mickey Mouse's shadow and P.L. Travers having Mary Poppins'. Just brilliant.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDback

I'm always a fan of your annual list. So awesome you got it posted here because I can think of no other site that appreciates the art of posters and their surprising and clever nature. No surprises either that the indie releases tend to dominate these lists, year after year, of very creative, memorable and striking one-sheets.

I thought all the Spring Breakers posters were just genius. I love the neon props one (#12) but your number one is pretty stellar. That sunglasses Bling Ring one was so clever and the b+w pencil drawing of Stoker's (#28) was gorgeous and thoughtful.

I second the Her poster with Phoenix's face against the red + pink colorblock. It stands out so beautifully when you see it lined up with other generic commercial work at the local multiplex.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

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