The year is drawing to a close and I'm catching up on some of 2015's must-see films before compiling my BEST OF 2015 lists. Meanwhile, spending any amount of time trawling for beautiful film stills online exposes a wealth of astonishing illustrations and graphic design for numerous film posters (and more than a few outstanding designs by fans). Here are my picks for some of the best poster designs created for films released in the UK in 2015.
Unzip your mind for a brain blasting look into the primordial sludge of the alpha male psyche in Aaaaaaaah! This poster was designed by Jay Shaw, who has invariably delivered his best work (film-wise) for Ben Wheatley's label, Rook Films.
Three cracking (jejeje) one-sheets for Diao Yinan's chilly police procedural Black Coal, Thin Ice, set in Northern China's coal mining region. The third poster is particularly inspired for its modification of a map of the region's freight train lines (which are central to the plot) to trace a constellation of two lovers' embrace.
Playing with the same background still and only two font variations (aside from the braille) all of Handverk's posters for Eskil Vogt's elaborate directorial debut have been rendered for maximum impact and a little avant-garde cheek (no pun intended). This sumptuous negative version is my absolute favourite and the best representation of an astonishing, vibrant film.
The American poster for the big screen adaptation of Colm Tóibín's novel Brooklyn captures the romantic period milieu of the titular New York borough, whilst also giving a fair warning to cinephiles with an aversion to the sugary nostalgia that sweetens the otherwise pitch perfect story (adapted by Nick Hornby) and universally excellent performances, led by Saoirse Ronan in her most breath taking performance to date.
On the opposite end of the scale to Brooklyn (in terms of the poster and the film it's advertising) is this design by Brooklyn-based fine artist Mu Pan and Fraser Muggridge studio for Catch Me Daddy. If the poster floats your boat then you can expect a soundtrack and visceral experience to match in Daniel & Matthew Wolfe's West Yorkshire-set nightmare thriller.
Julian House continued his fruitful relationship with emerging British auteur Peter Strickland to create the year's most impressive run of quads and one-sheets for The Duke of Burgundy. My favourite of the bunch is here presented on the 12" vinyl of Cat's Eyes' seductive soundtrack. Julian House's work is uniformly astonishing in its complexity but I have a soft spot for this image, that most closely resembles the posters for the soft-core psychological erotic thrillers made by Jess Franco and Jean Rollin in the 1970s.
Half the job of a great poster is to convey the atmosphere and thematic undercurrents of a film and any fans of Riley Stearn's twisty chamber piece Faults will surely agree that Cold Open's poster nails the film's themes of fuguing personalities, psychological reprogramming and its lived-in production design.
Made for the film's 2014 Venice premiere this simple poster evokes the sweltering summer afternoons (and beautiful 35mm photography) in Guy Myhill's gritty but sensual slice-of-life that follows a teenaged boy on his ambling search for freedom and direction in the Norfolk countryside. (Please leave a comment if you know the designer and read Sean O'Dowd's fine review here).
I'll confess that I haven't yet gotten around to Howl, which looks like a low-budget British B-horror best enjoyed in the company of like-minded horror fans and a bottomless can of lager. But abundant praise is in order for any designer who can convey the entire premise of a film on the poster alone! (Please leave a comment below if you know the designer).
Below are the five adorable one-sheets sent out by Disney-Pixar ahead of Inside Out's world premiere at Cannes in May.
It Follows has been blessed with a seemingly endless stream of haunting poster images from various designers and a legion of fans with a penchant for illustration. But the absolute cream of the crop has to be this gothic art nouveau take by Richey Beckett (above). Praise should also be reserved for whoever came up with the awesome tagline for this film.
Legend is not likely to be counted as one of the best films of the year (though few will be able to resist the pull of two Tom Hardys for the price of one!) However, distributors Studio Canal made it a worthy entry in the annals of advertising history this year by sneaking in a two-star review from the Guardian's Benjamin Lee in the guise of a four-star accolade! In what Lee himself called "a stroke of brazen genius" the graphic designer not only hoodwinked Grauniad-reading cinephiles but also rubbed salt into the open wound suffered by film critics whose reviews are misappropriated by studios to sell sub-par movies.
"Coming soon" indeed... As if that single strand of saliva didn't tip you off, the jizzmkiss'd typeface should make it abundantly clear that this is a sexy movie. Incredibly, there is one even less subtle image in Love's collection of one-sheets - one that is distinctly NSFW.
It's no surprise that an adrenaline fuelled, comic-book-like revival of one of cinema's most beloved action heroes would result in a frenzy of creativity from nerdy illustrators and Poster Posse collected the finest results here and here. As for my favourites: Andy Fairhurst's subtle bird's-eye-view (above) - pregnant with tension - perfectly represents the sense of anticipation as George Miller's magnum opus was speeding towards cinemas earlier this year. BUT! The clashing text and rattling, dynamic energy of British illustrator Luke Butland's poster (below) gets my vote for the best poster design for Mad Max: Fury Road.
Mariana Rondón's Venezuelan slice-of-life Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) got an elegantly simple alternate one-sheet. (Please leave a comment if you know who did it!)
The poster and set of postcards designed by British studio La Boca for Gabe Polsky's documentary about the USSR's dominance in Olympic ice hockey during the Cold War uses its font, colouring and stark, heroic imagery to evoke the work of the USSR's most creative designers and propagandists. But it is the poster's dynamism that really hits the mark, even more so than its expert evocation of Soviet design history.
Made to celebrate Shaun the Sheep's big screen debut, these adorable parody posters sum-up the ready wit and handmade creative flair for which Bristol's Aardman Animation is known and loved.
Above is a complimentary pairing of two fine examples of cross-exposure-style collage, each dedicated to evoking the rich, immersive atmosphere of two captivating but very different films.
Possibly my favourite poster of the whole year! If you like your colours popping through a restless plastic lens then get your shit together and watch 2015's spunkiest indie, Tangerine!
Miroslav Slaboshpitsky's hard-hitting feature debut plays out entirely in un-subtitled sign language with not a single audible word uttered from start to finish. What better way to convey the extraordinary language of the film's cast and its ominous tone than this layered interpretation from the always excellent Boland Design Company (above)?
To close I can't resist showing a little more love for The Tribe with Alan Hynes' striking interpretation for Mondo/Alamo Drafthouse, appropriating imagery from one of the film's many ominous scenes of youth in revolt.