It is time once again for the FSR Year in Review, our annual week of lists and recaps, counting down the very best in film for the year. In between now and January 1st we will be bringing you the best and the worst, the uplifting and the depressing, the sexy and the geeky — all of the best, worst and otherwise notable moments in film from the past 365 days. We begin our quest with the place where most cinematic journeys start, with a great movie poster. The ten movie posters below not only got our attention, they also kept us interested, entertained and excited about the movies to come. These ten rose above all others to become the upper echelon of film’s most basic marketing device. Have a look at our list of The Ten Coolest Movie Posters of 2008 below (click the images to enlarge).
When audiences saw Transformers last year, they were treated with a trailer for a film that told them only two things. One was that the film came out on 1/18/08. The second thing is that everyone heard something different, like “I saw it, it’s a lion, it’s huge!” What? Everyone threw in their theories as to what the film was about…from a Voltron movie to a new Godzilla. Then came the poster. Everyone studied it as closely as they could, just to find a clue about what J.J. Abrams had up his sleeve. No matter what though, look at the imagery. There are not a lot of things more powerful than a decapitated Statue of Liberty in front of a decimated New York City.
The Dark Knight
Remember when no one knew who was going to play the Joker? More importantly, do you remember when everyone found out that Heath Ledger would be playing the Joker? Loads of fan art, and fake production stills made their way to the webs and we all speculated as to how awesome or how bad Ledger’s Joker might be. One step at a time kids. I can remember the first time I saw this poster. I just stared and said to myself ‘This is so creepy, this is so awesome.’ Fans were delighted and curious. Eventually some real production stills of Ledger’s Joker were revealed…and from what I hear, his portrayal was pretty good.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Jason Segel just can’t win. He has been the red-headed stepchild of the Apatow gang for years. He had never been in the spotlight, until now. The guy finally starred in his own film…and then they took him off the posters. Poor guy, they actually took his mug off the posters because the studio found that his face didn’t test well with people…but it gave way to this fantastic marketing campaign. Why is this so fantastic? Do you have any idea how many real life Sarah Marshalls had to deal with seeing “You Suck Sarah Marshall”, “My Mom Always Hated You Sarah Marshall” and “You Do Look Fat In Those Jeans Sarah Marshall” all over town? Genius.
Harold and Kumar: Escape From Guantanamo Bay
This poster evokes one of two thoughts. 1) What kind of acid was in my popcorn? or 2) NPH, awesome. In their follow-up to the awesomeness of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, our favorite stoner minorities took the extra step with this poster and gave audiences more of what they craved. All I know is that this poster is really something to be appreciated. That is why I love to see the expressions of middle-aged parents when they see Doogie Howser on a mighty steed. Little do they know, it is written that NPH will ride a mighty unicorn and heal the world.
I think that with movie posters, more is less. If you can make a statement with a single iconic image, it really says something about your movie. There it is, that one glowing eye surrounded by red and gold armor. It tells you that Iron Man is ready to hit theaters and become your new favorite superhero. Iron Man doesn’t need anything flashy to impress. When you can show people only 1/20th of the hero and they get excited, you know you have a hit on your hands.
Judd Apatow has started a trend with his ‘floating head’ movie poster marketing. Even though they have all followed the same recipe, each one has had a flavor all it’s own. This poster’s flavor might be smokey…or pineapple-ey. Nonetheless, the poster does a couple things in that it tells you it is a stoner movie, and it is going to make you laugh silly. I really appreciate that James Franco allowed himself to look like a dirty stoner for the integrity of the film.
So I’d really like someone to try and make a poster creepier than this. And no, you can’t refer to the parodies of this poster that have John McCain’s face. Seriously though, what kind of sickness does someone need to have for them to think about putting a chubby hairy man wearing a human-face-mask on to a theatrical poster? Then again, this is a Saw film we are talking about.
How can you not look at this poster and laugh? So not only did the movie trailer look hilarious, but it also featured Robert Downey Jr. in his most challenging role to date. He would be playing an Australian actor, playing a black Vietnam soldier. If I had told you this back in January, you might have thought I had gone crazy from Syphilis. But sure enough, Downey Jr. played a black man and this poster showed him in all of his black-face glory.
Pixar has a way with affecting people’s emotions. They have taken so many small things, and given them so much life. When they said that they would be taking a character who didn’t speak and try and make a film out of it, many people weren’t in their corner. However while this little guy can’t speak, as you can see from a poster like this one, his actions speak louder than words. I feel like a little kid again when I see these Pixar films. Wall-E, and his poster, just made me grin from cuteness.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Kevin Smith didn’t make it very easy for himself with the MPAA by naming his movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and also pissing them off with an unapproved trailer. Then they gave him a hard time over a couple lousy seconds. So what did he do? He didn’t get mad, he didn’t get even, he just played their game…but only better. He poked back at the MPAA and mocked their attempts at toning down a movie with the word Porno in the title. You have to admit, even in this poster Elizabeth Banks is smoking hot.
Read More: 2008 Year in Review
What were your favorite movie posters of 2008?