18. Deadpool (2016)
Directed by Tim Miller
Deadpool, and I mean this as a compliment, is dumb as hell. Naturally, its opening title sequence follows suit: delivering delightfully childish cheap shots and low blowing its way straight into our hearts. In an Escalade frozen in time, to the tune of Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning,” a gaggle of goons gets ripped to shreds in loving slow-mo as the “credits” roll. It’s a sequence built to take potshots at the genre a hilariously effective inroduction to the film’s disregard for the fourth wall.
17. Drive (2011)
Titles designed by Jay Johnson
While I was very tempted to put my personal Nicolas Winding Refn underdog favorite Only God Forgives on this list, I concede: this spot belongs to Drive. Introducing a generation of film dorks to the inherent joys of driving around the block at 1 am listening to french electro synthwave, Drive holds the unique distinction of being the coolest cat on this list. With a relaxed fit and iconic neon typography, the Drive opening sequence is the calm before the storm; a chillout that sucks us into a decidedly un-chill and grotesque portrait of nightlife, violence, and the repercussions of getting in deep with the wrong crowd.
16. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2015)
Title design by Ben Conrad
The first Iranian Vampire Western lives up to its reputation with a title sequence ripped straight out a Clint Eastwood flic. Unsettled by modern inclinations, KiOSK’s eerie tunes, and black and white gait, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night quickly signals its disregard for genre boundaries, carving out a space for something new, exciting, and a little freaky. With title text a little left of center from The Good The Bad and The Ugly, this here’s an opening title sequence with more than meets the eye. After all, the bodies aren’t far.
15. The House That Jack Built (2018)
Titles by Angelo Caruso
The House That Jack Built wouldn’t be The House That Jack Built if Lars von Trier didn’t kick off his magnum opus with a hell of a title drop. Against a black screen, Jack (Matt Dillon) wades into what will become his descent into hell, promising us and his guide, Verge (Bruno Ganz) of the enticing tale he’s about to tell. And then the title comes up: a big, loud card structured in the shape of a house, with, of course, the director’s credit as the foundation. As the film goes on to blur the distinction between the criminal exploits of the film’s protagonist and the career of its filmmaker, it’s only fitting that von Trier is spelled out as the foundation of this house. The horrific, brutal, and shockingly funny film we’re about to watch spits in the face of anonymity; it’s a film only von Trier could have made, and for better or worse, he has no qualms about claiming ownership. (Anna Swanson)
14. The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Creative direction by Dennis Yoo
Steven Spielberg isn’t just a master of the opening title sequence, but an expert at citing his sources right off the top; emulating the best as a sign of good faith fondness for those who came before him. He paid homage to Saul Bass in the top-shelf, blue-hued opening credits of Catch Me If You Can, and in The Adventures of Tintin, he channels Hergé’s original work with a giddy admiration that’s wonderfully contagious. As the sequence unfolds, easter eggs and microcosmic tales come and go while gesturing to the delightful, thrilling picture that’s to come.
13. Scott Pilgrim vs.The World (2010)
Creative direction by Richard Kenworthy
The title sequence to Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series is the perfect opening act: getting the audience hyped and warming up the mic for the main event. It’s an explosion of paint and manhandled celluloid backed by Sex Bob-omb by way of Beck. The sequence is playfully punk, a three-chord speedrun that gives visuals to sound, animating, per Wright’s admission: “a manifestation of how cool the music is in Knives head…like her brain is exploding with how cool the track is.” Us too Knives. Us too.
12. Inherent Vice (2014)
No one knows how to hook you like Paul Thomas Anderson. He drops the bait with Inherent Vice’s sun-soaked 70s noir premise of Doc’s (Joaquin Phoenix) ex-old lady, Shasta (Katherine Waterston), drawing him into a new case. And then, as night descends on Gordita beach and Shasta pulls away, leaving Doc with more questions than answers, Anderson’s brilliance strikes. The title comes up as if lit by green neon lights, a sensation at once beautiful and artificial, sweetly nostalgic and in your face, separate to the film and perfectly in tune with its vibes. I’m hooked. (Anna Swanson)
11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Creative direction by Erin Sarofsky
If you’re going to indulge in popcorn escapism, lean in I say! We all need a space-faring, jukebox, nostalgia trip sometimes. And with Guardians of the Galaxy, the contents match the box. Starlord (Chris Pratt) dancing to Redbone is goofy and comforting, with a lackadaisical gait and a promise that the film to follow will be equally toe-tapping. These credits signaled a zing in the comic book movie behemoth; a silliness big picture superhero films had been sorely missing.
10. Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Creative direction by Pamela B. Green and Jarik Van Sluijs
Jump scares are terrible. Okay, wait, some jump scares are terrible. And, to bum a quote from a great man, the cream will rise to the top. Cabin in the Woods’ title sequence is one of the distinguished few jump scares that earn their shriek and delight as a result. After a round-up of key players backed by some standard images of ritual sacrifice, we are launched into amusing if mundane office banter. Surely we’re out of the woods, right…right? BAM: a screamer ripped straight out the 00’s internet. It’s a horror-comedy chef’s kiss and a great sign marker for the upcoming creepy/comedic tone.