The best movie poster of 2007
We came very close to declaring there was no “best” Movie Poster of the Year for 2007. Our annual pick for the best one-sheet for the year was coming up blank — there seem to be few choices for great movie posters. Looking at key art led to the same conclusion as looking at the movies themselves from the past 12 months: 2007 was not a great year for movies.
This past year, many marveled at the blockbuster eve candy of those sweaty 300 Spartans. Michael Bay’s Transformers was labeled a success mostly because the film was not as bad as many expected it to be. Many people searched eBay for a Spider-Man 3 lenticular 3D poster, which was as hard to find as a good review for the movie itself. Animation continued to be a dominant box office staple — three of the top ten grossing films of the year were Shrek the Third, Ratatouille, and The Simpsons Movie.
Vintage advertising showed its influence with the dime-store pulp of the Black Snake Moan poster. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez wanted you to know how much they love the 1970s exploitation double-bills with the Grindhouse poster campaign. Were they trying to recreate the haphazard aspect of 70s B-movie advertising by creating a Planet Terror poster with Cherry Darling’s gun replacing the wrong leg?
And speaking of blurry, some singled out the Michael Clayton movie poster as a good movie poster, but the blurred image of George Clooney with large typography seemed to fall into what some film ad creative directors call “book cover” design.
Artist Drew Struzan got to finish his own rejected Blade Runner poster design illustration from 25 years ago for the 2007 (limited theatrical, followed by DVD) release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut. The new Blade Runner DVD release features interviews with Blade Runner poster illustrators John Alvin along with Drew Struzan — a rare opportunity to see and hear film poster illustrators speak about their work. Alvin has some interesting comments about one-sheet design in the DVD’s Promoting Dystopia: Rendering the Poster Art documentary interview.
Topping many film critics best-of lists, Juno was labeled as “this year’s Little Miss Sunshine”. The Juno movie poster took that label by following the Little Miss Sunshine one-sheet example of “branding” itself via a strong color element (orange stripes in this case).
Was there a trend for 2007 movie posters? Our vote would be what we will call Big Sky Country, especially when looking at indie film posters. Lots and lots of big fields and big skies. All those vistas are not really a new trend, but there seemed to be fewer big heads floating in those skies lately.
Which brings us to our pick for the top movie poster of the year — The Savages movie poster illustrated by comic book artist Chris Ware. The movie tells the story of the dysfunctional relationship of a brother (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and sister (Laura Linney) dealing with their elderly father. What is interesting about the poster is all the things generally considered no-nos used in the one-sheet that don’t seem to take away from Ware’s illustration. Blue type against a blue background? Check. Overused Bank Gothic typeface set too small for copylines? Check. Rounded corners a la web design conventions influencing print design? Check. Reminiscent of another comic book artist illustrated movie poster featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman — the Happiness movie poster by artist Daniel Clowes? Check. Overbearing title treatment? Check. Inconsistent type justification (using centered, left, and right justified text)? Check. And failing to pass the gold standard test in film advertising ad critique smack-downs: Would your mother understand it? Check.
What we do like about the Chris Ware movie poster illustration for The Savages is that it is different than most key art campaigns (mainstream, indie, or otherwise) — it evokes a real feeling and direction about the characters. The trademark Chris Ware style of detached “coldness” is (literally) on display in The Savages one-sheet. Ware was an interesting choice to illustrate The Savages movie poster, since a common observation about his work is that his cartooning isn’t as strong as his writing, or at the very least, his artwork is overrated. It would be easy to criticize this top movie poster choice as yet another fan-boy sucking at the Chris Ware teet, but anything involving an alternative “comix” inspired illustration in a film advertising movie poster campaign deserves support.