2010 was great year for HD imagery on the walls outside of theaters, as well as on indoor screens. The mark of a great poster comes when you get to the end of the year and remember a design and title even if you never made it to the box office to see the film. The exceptional ones may have even convinced you to make Friday night plans and dole out 12 bucks for a ticket.
Boasting some innovative layouts and homages to masterpieces of the past, as well as a keen grasp of what catches the eye, here are our top 10 picks for 2010 movie posters that will still be imprinted on our minds in 2011, 2012 and long after.
10. "The Town"
In the grand tradition of unsettling bank-robbery movie disguises showcased in such flicks as "The Dark Knight," "Point Break" and "Dead Presidents," Ben Affleck's "The Town" introduced prospective audience members to some ugly, heavily-armed nuns. This poster uses a simple concept that hearkens back to that film tradition while pairing the gun-toting threat with a tiny community of actors below. Thus, it establishes tension and introduces the cast in one fell swoop.
9. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1"
Simple color palettes and a sense of motion go a long way, even when you're dealing with one of the most recognizable acting ensembles in film today. "The Deathly Hallows" is all about the full-on adult dangers Harry, Hermione and Ron are facing after six movies' worth of aging and adventuring -- and the poster perfectly captures the sense that the trio is running headlong into those dangers. The cold blues set a chilling tone against the bright red splash of color in the foreground. It's the kind of effect you'd expect to see on a slasher film poster, but it's still subtle enough to cater to a PG-13 crowd.
8. "The Losers"
This piece of work by artist Jock was a special treat for comic book lovers who were already fans of his DC Comics/Vertigo series with writer Andy Diggle. The upward-looking perspective paired with his style introduced the new cast to "Losers" readers and provided a concept that would later be used for photographed versions of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Zoe Saldana's posse of rogue black ops operatives. The movie was a miss, but this poster is right on target.
The vintage grindhouse air of pulp excess that brought Robert Rodriguez' "Machete" into the world was just as (if not more) entertaining than the movie itself. Considering that this explosion-fest was born out of a trailer that launched a three-year hype party for the film, the poster had to keep the level of promotional adrenaline sky high; this puppy accomplishes just that with a collage of fire, sneers, weaponry and vehicles that happen to find themselves immersed in the mayhem and surrounded by scantily clad, gun-wielding beauties.
6. "The Last Exorcism"
Horror films get a lot of pressure. Moviegoers know what it's like to be shocked, and many of them love the sensation, but crafting the perfect poster to make someone walking out of a theater do a double take and then go home and remember what caused them to feel that way is an art in itself. Daniel Stamm's "The Last Exorcism" was lucky enough to get several such posters that played off of a concept primed to connect with anyone familiar with "The Exorcist." The horrifying part of this image is the fact that the girl is up in the air ready to fall on you -- and she's not Spider-Man, so you know she's not sticking to the wall and ceiling thanks to mutated DNA.
5. "Piranha 3D"
As an homage to posters for Joe Dante's "Piranha" of 1978, this "Piranha 3D" one-sheet gives its predecessor a healthy dose of visual steroids to convey the idea that this movie experience is going to take a good old-fashioned animal horror film and make it pop out of the screen with the glitz of modern special effects. The perspective, the imagery and the ratio of toothy fish to sunbathers all make it more memorable than a man's dismembered "member" flying off a movie screen in 3-D (yeah, that was in the flick).
4. "I Love You Phillip Morris"
One of the great challenges many poster designers face is figuring out how to spotlight a film's headlining actors while still coming up with an inspired image. Most one-sheets take the easy way out, put a waist-up shot of the main character front and center and call it a day. But the "">I Love You Phillip Morris" poster actually takes Jim Carrey and and Ewan McGregor and contorts them into a simple, iconic shape that works together in harmony with the barbed wire and tagline to tease the film.
3. "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)"
Back on the subject of horror for a minute. History may prove this ""The Human Centipede (First Sequence)" poster to be the single most enduring image to emerge from movie posters in 2010. When director Tom Six's Dutch-made assault on the eyes arrived in North America it needed something disturbing that could also reference the film in public without breaking any laws (you see, the graphic film is about a deranged doctor who sews a series of people together, face-to-butt, to form a "human centipede"). In all fairness, any squeamishness or nausea inspired by this poster was about a trillionth of what "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)" visited upon unsuspecting viewers the world over, but as an elegant little calling card for Six's cult creation, you couldn't have asked for a better one-sheet.
2. "The Runaways"
Simplicity wins out in this symphony of thinly veiled erogenous cues that is also a literal depiction of the Runaways' hit song "Cherry Bomb." The sparks, the cherry and the drip could have appeared alone with the film's title and still been an effective teaser. The poster boils the concept of a Runaways biopic into a concoction that's about as simple as they come, and as far as blunt messages go, this one wields a mighty large club.
Rodrigo Cortés' suspenseful tale of a man (Ryan Reynolds) being buried alive owes a lot to Alfred Hitchcock for its, so its fitting that the "Buried" poster draws heavily from a classic "Vertigo" design to evoke a sense of desperation. It's clean, it's memorable and it's utterly mesmerizing.
Do you agree with our picks? What were your favorite movie posters of 2010? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!