Since 2022 seems to have affected my enjoyment of all artistic mediums equally, I will refrain from declaring that it’s been a lackluster year for quantity when it comes to great work in film posters. I simply haven’t loved that much of anything this year—posters, film, music, etc.
While it stinks in terms of feeling good on the day-to-day by what I’m consuming, it’s made shoring up end-of-year lists pretty easy. Maybe not in terms of setting an order of things, but definitely in singling out which ones I need to organize.
I even considered making this list a Top 30 instead of a Top 25 since I only really had 31 posters on my final shortlist, but leaving six off is much less anxiety-inducing than one. In the end, all of those that made the cut are superb. Pretending this specific order isn’t arbitrary is just plain narcissism. They’ve each imprinted on my memory in their own unique way, and that’s what matters most when it comes to art.
#25 – Dear Mr. Brody (Frost Foundry); #24 – Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power (Joan Horne); #23 – Spin Me Round (GrandSon; title/copy by Drusilla Adeline; illustration by Steve Chorney); #22 – Anatolian Leopard (Arda Aktas); #21 – Beba (Brent Rollins); #20 – A Love Song (Studio Allioli; artwork by Max Strong); #19 – Decision to Leave (Nicolás Ortega); #18 – Summering (Max Finkel & Erin Wagner for The Refinery); #17 – To the Moon (Brandon Schaefer for Jump Cut); #16 – Ahed’s Knee (Shine Horovits); #15 – Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (GrandSon); #14 – Hellbender (Drusilla Adeline for Sister Hyde Design); #13 – Poser (Brandon Schaefer for Jump Cut); #12 – Los Conductos (Carlos Fernández for Torogüero studio); #11 – God’s Creatures (P+A)
#10 – Everything Everywhere All at Once (James Jean for AV Print)
James Jean’s talent is undeniable, and has been since I first really took note of his work in the realm of movie posters with mother! back in 2017, but it reached a level of sheer insanity with Everything Everywhere All at Once for AV Print. Its kaleidoscope of characters, action, Easter eggs, and googly eyes provides a feast that truly cannot be consumed in one sitting—much like the film it represents. We spiral through its perfectly composed multiverse set atop a symmetrical scaffolding that maintains integrity even as subjects and objects get replaced, absorbing the dizzying spectacle with glee. And that gorgeous limited-edition print with “crystalline finishes and gold lineworks”? Breathtaking.
#09 – Land of Dreams (Mark McGillivray for Intermission Film)
I’ve been sitting on Mark McGillivray’s Land of Dreams with Intermission Films since 2021, worried it wasn’t ever going to get a US release for me to finally include it in a Posterized column (it opened in September, a year after its Venice debut). It’s a wonderfully constructed piece that screams its title at us while also sucking us in. The text reads right-to-left in diminishing size like a cartoonish snore expelling air just to recycle it back in, the triangle formed by it and the road a funnel to paradise or disaster depending on whether the dreams promised ever come true. It moves forward to go backward in an endless loop we’re too intrigued to not enter and decide for ourselves whether the risk to jump is worth the price.
#08 – Bones and All (Elizabeth Peyton & Jules Estèves; painting by Peyton)
It’s all about the kiss. The subsequent posters for Bones and All stop short by showing Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet resting their foreheads upon each other instead. Elizabeth Peyton & Jules Estèves conversely cross that line with intent, knowing the implications of cannibal lips touching go beyond just romance. This is about a tug-of-war between restraint and desire. It’s about craving something beyond one’s own wellbeing. Providing it by way of a finger painting aesthetic only adds to the tactility and animalistic nature of who these characters are as hunters and lovers, while the text being inverted and consumed shows the canvas can no longer contain its subjects’ appetites.
#07 – Corsage (Midnight Marauder)
There are few better at bringing the adage “less is more” to life than Midnight Marauder, and Corsage is no exception. The font and crown bring a vintage printmaking austerity while the exactingly masked photo of Vicky Krieps arrives with a welcomingly dark contrast to bridge the gap from top and bottom while directing our sight upwards towards her face. It’s both a coronation and rejection—the jewel suspended in animation with double-meaning for a figure at a crossroads in her life, insofar as what title means for a woman trapped within its patriarchal prison. If it sits upon her brow, it won’t be because she grabbed hold. This image of defiance proves as much.
#06 – Resurrection (P+A)
It’s only fitting a film such as Resurrection would receive a poster that’s equally composed yet disorienting. On the surface, P+A is wielding boxes on top of boxes—frame, image, and motif. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll find where those boxes bleed to escape their edges while also creating an optical illusion with the text to reveal how uniformity and pattern can’t “maintain control” alone, despite the tagline’s order. So while Rebecca Hall is able to see through the bars separating her from us, it’s actually the bars that are letting us look through them rather than her look out. They’re inviting us into the horrifying, gaslit nightmare that’s flooded back into her consciousness. They’re resurrecting an evil she’d hoped was left dead and buried in her past.
#05 – Holy Spider (Danni Riddertoft for riddertoft; typography by Studio Kargah)
Danni Riddertoft’s poster for Holy Spider is perfect. A woven Persian rug to allude to the place (Iran) and metaphorically align with the title (woven web), it also provokes with its image of one of the sex workers the so-called “spider killer” targets in the film. You thus get the juxtaposition of culture and sex; tradition and blasphemy. The obscene notion that murder in the name of religious purity is somehow just is supplied by an intricately composed tapestry of texture and patterns. And highlighting Studio Kargah’s Arabic typography despite this being an English-language poster only further proves you can stay true to the subject and create great art regardless of whether it renders the whole less marketable by whatever arbitrary statistics might be used as confirmation.
#04 – Apples (Raúl Monge)
Here’s a poster I’ve held onto for two years (it debuted at TIFF in 2020, opened in Greece in 2021, and finally hit US theaters this past June) and it hasn’t lost one iota of intrigue. Another example of “less is more,” Raúl Monge’s Apples one-sheet projects its title onto its subject in order to describe its plot—a world ravaged by an amnesia-causing pandemic. Merge a peeling apple with lead actor Aris Servetalis and you get an image of a mind’s delicate unraveling. It’s as concise as it is profound, yet the designer goes one step further by ensuring the whole composition proves just as successful. They crop the image off the bottom edge, blurring it slightly to illustrate the character’s gradual decline. Because what was once a man carrying a lived-in existence has now become a façade housing nothing but a blank slate beneath.
#03 – Meet Me in the Bathroom (Mike McQuade)
Mike McQuade’s mixed media collage breathes early-Aughts life into the print campaign for the cinematic adaptation of Elizabeth Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom. He takes an image of a guitarist in-concert and uses it as both a representation of itself and the window with which to add new faces, skylines, and logos, all while augmenting the overall energy with bright red paint strokes popping off the otherwise black-and-white monochrome. The trim lines, creases, and folds remain intact to provide a human touch that glossy posters simply cannot match—the resulting DIY nature as much a product of an era of the counterculture rebirth of NYC rock as it is a rejection of the Hollywood portraiture hanging beside it at your local multiplex.
#02 – Great Freedom (Vasilis Marmatakis)
Regular Yorgos Lanthimos collaborator Vasilis Marmatakis delivers the mesmerizingly surreal Great Freedom as a visual Matryoshka doll of space and time. The assumption is that Franz Rogowski is both staring at the closed window of his jail cell and poking through it with a cigarette to be lit by an arm outside. By combining the scenes in a way that allows such flipsides to simultaneously exist, that arm is suddenly situated inside as well to create a dizzying sense of vertigo as our minds try fitting everything together. And while it captivates on this surface level, it also pulls us in to wonder about reality insofar as how “freedom” might be delivered. Will this man get out one day? Or is his independence just an illusion created inside his mind?
#01 – The Novelist’s Film (Brian J. Hung)
I love this poster. Not just because it is a gorgeously rendered cutout evoking stairs, window, and nature in both literal and formally minimalist ways, but also because it’s so unlike anything Brian J. Hung has done before. He’s been designing Cinema Guild’s Hong Sangsoo one-sheets for years now, cultivating a fun throughline of works composed by mostly winding text and repeated imagery for us to excitedly run around. The Novelist’s Film feels like an evolution on those aspects, honing that style in a much more dramatic way to create a single scene possessed by a quiet serenity that allows us to take a breath and sit, listen to the gentle laughter of those women off in the distance. There’s an infectious, soothing air of infinite possibilities marked by the act of creation with handwritten title, typed director’s credit, and scrapbooked collage.