2019: We were happy and we didn’t know it
2019 was a complex year, even without a massive pandemic, so when we was able to go anywhere without fear of get sick, art reflects their time, so lets enjoy this pieces of commercial art, thanks to Indiewire, made in the time before the pandemic when we all were happy, we just didn’t know it.
What makes a great movie poster? A stunning composition is certainly a factor, but more importantly is how effective the image is in generating anticipation for its respective movie title. The best film posters provide a first feeling of what it will be like to experience the films themselves on the big screen. It doesn’t always work out. In some cases, the poster can tease an experience better than the film it’s representing (see “Lucy in the Sky” this year). Other times, a great film and a great poster synch up perfectly (see “Ad Astra” this year). One thing is for sure: Movie posters are their own art form, and in 2019 that art form was in damn fine shape.
Below are the 30 movie posters that made the strongest impressions in 2019.
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
Neon sent out this gorgeous “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” poster to press in the midst of the movie’s awards campaign. Those fiery orange and red brush strokes serve as a passionate reflection of the movie’s entangled desires.
James Gray’s science-fiction stunner “Ad Astra” issued one poster with Brad Pitt’s big, beautiful face front and center, but it turns out this poster that hid its leading man was far more effective in selling the mind-bending drama of the film’s plot.
“The Beach Bum”
Neon’s poster for Harmony Korine’s “The Beach Bum” perfectly embodies the infectious, neon-soaked energy at the film’s heart. If you’re going to go the conventional poster route by featuring all the characters, then you might as well make it as eye-popping as this one.
“Dark Phoenix” (China Release)
The final 20th Century Fox “X-Men” movie “Dark Phoenix” was one of the biggest box office bombs of the year (Disney CEO Bob Iger even blamed it for hurting the studio’s quarterly earnings) but it at least gave moviegoers this gorgeous one-sheet courtesy of the film’s theatrical for its China release.
“Glass” was supposed to be a celebratory career peak for M. Night Shyamalan as the sequel to “Unbreakable” and “Split,” but instead it ended up being the biggest disappointment of the director’s career. Final product aside, the film’s illustrated one-sheet remains one of the year’s best, perfectly capturing the comic-book heart of Shyamalan’s vision.
Adam Sandler is such a recognizable face in Hollywood that simply presenting a battered and bruised version of him surrounded by ominous darkness is enough to make the “Uncut Gems” poster a knockout.
If you’re promoting a movie where Elisabeth Moss plays a destructive punk rocker, then you might as well put the actress and her sass front and center on the official poster.
Bow down to Florence Pugh, the scream queen of 2019. The actress’ terrified close-up is a warning that Ari Aster’s “Midsommar” is bound to screw with your head and shatter your emotions to pieces.
Would it be a “best of 2019” list for movies without mentioning “Parasite”? One of the first steps in turning Bong Joon Ho’s Palme d’Or winner into a box office sensation was creating a poster that could sell the dangerously entertaining energy of Bong’s vision. Mission accomplished.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
The first posters for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” were so aggressively photoshopped that it’s hard to believe Sony was serious in putting them out to the public. Fortunately, the film’s marketing got back on track with a serious of fictional movie posters for titles within “Hollywood” starring protagonist Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Aisling Franciosi’s performance in Jennifer Kent’s bruising revenge drama “The Nightingale” is one of the year’s most gut-punching, and it’s no small feat that IFC Films was able to capture Franciosi’s wounded anger in one still image.
“One Child Nation”
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s extraordinary documentary “One Child Nation” takes an unflinching look at China’s controversial one-child policy. The film’s poster visually represents that policy in chilling fashion. Any fan of HBO’s “The Leftovers” will surely appreciate this one.
Rick Alverson’s “The Mountain” stars Tye Sheridan as a young man who loses his mother and goes to a doctor who specializes in lobotomies and therapies (Jeff Goldblum). The movie’s poster evokes a sense of fading memories and indentities that is key to the film’s storyline.
The more attention-grabbing “Joker” posters couldn’t compete with the effect of the movie’s one-sheet teaser. By showing just a sneak peek of Joaquin Phoenix’s full Joker face makeup, the poster effortlessly draws the viewer’s curiosity.
The poster for Christian Petzold’s remarkable “Transit” tells you everything you need to know about how a mysterious woman (Paula Beer) will bury herself into the soul of the film’s main character (Franz Rogowski).
Jordan Peele’s “Us” had one of the best posters of 2018 thanks to its inkblot teaser, and the film’s marketing strengths continued into this year with a striking official one-sheet featuring Lupita Nyong’o. The “Us” poster communicates the film’s plot more intriguingly than any trailer could.
“Wonder Woman 1984”
“Wonder Woman 1984” was supposed to debut in November 2019 before Warner Bros. delayed it until summer 2020, but at least Diana (Gal Gadot) got to make her mark this year with this eye-popping teaser poster. Perfectly capturing the energy of its time period while teasing major plot developments (that’s the Gold Armor!), this is how you tease a superhero tentpole.
“A Hidden Life”
Terrence Malick returned in 2019 with “A Hidden Life,” easily his best achievement since “The Tree of Life.” The film is an intimate character study about the resilience of the human spirit, a theme Fox Searchlight’s official poster manages to evoke.
Just before Netflix debuted Dan Gilroy’s “Velvet Buzzsaw” at the Sundance Film Festival, the streaming giant dropped a poster that proved how a simple approach can often be the most powerful. Does putting a title of a movie inside a frame qualify as art? The “Buzzsaw” poster asks the kind of questions the film is hellbent on exploring.
The Cinema Guild distributed Hong Sang-soo’s “Grass” this year and issued a poster that wonderfully captured its unique beauty. The film stars Hong’s recent muse Kim Min-hee as a cafe worker who draws inspiration for her writing from customers she observes. The poster is a visual representation of the film’s plot and Hong’s witty, observational style.
“Queen and Slim”
Universal’s official poster for Melina Matsoukas’ “Queen and Slim” presents the eponymous characters played by Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya and breakout actress Jodie Turner-Smith in all their coolness and prominence. The film’s script from Lena Waithe turns Queen and Slim into icons, and that’s what this poster feels like it’s doing, too.
A24’s poster for “The Souvenir” takes the notion of writer-director Joanna Hogg reflecting on her coming-of-age experience quite literally. Capturing the reflections of stars Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke, the poster speaks volumes to the relationship that plays out at the heart of the story.
Many critics were quick to compare Sundance comedy “Greener Grass” to the works of David Lynch and John Waters, so it’s only appropriate IFC embraced these influences on the official poster. That white picket fence recalls Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” but it’s clear from this image that “Greener Grass” has a wacky originality all its own.
Benh Zeitlin will finally return next year with “Wendy,” which is debuting eight years after “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” The movie is debuting at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Fox Searchlight’s teaser poster for “Wendy” feels like a burnt photograph that has captured the forward momentum of youth in one still image.
“The Death of Dick Long”
A24 had major hits like “Midsommar” and “The Farewell” in 2019, but one of the distributor’s more overlooked titles was “The Death of Dick Long.” The poster for the movie is at once elegant and immature, a tonal mixture that is true to the spirit of filmmaker Daniel Scheinert (one half of the filmmaking team behind “Swiss Army Man”).
Even for those viewers unaware “Honey Boy” is an autobiographical drama about Shia LaBeouf, this clever poster with its old vaudeville aesthetic is a nifty tease about the dangers-of-showbiz storyline. Turning Lucas Hedges into a marionette doll is an easy metaphor, but it’s perfect in making clear what “Honey Boy” is selling.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”
Three movies in and Lionsgate knows how to sell the “John Wick” franchise to fans with an action-packed punch. If this ingenious one-sheet for “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” doesn’t get your blood pumping then nothing will.
“Lucy in the Sky”
Noah Hawley’s feature directorial debut “Lucy in the Sky” received some of the worst reviews of 2019, and its horrendous box office was nothing to brag about either. If only the movie lived up to its impressive first trailer and poster.
Oscilloscope’s poster for Justin Chon’s wonderful indie “Ms. Purple” does justice to the film’s story of a young woman who must pick up the pieces of her life and reconnect with her estranged brother during the final days of their father’s life.
“The Last Black Man in San Fransisco”
The fifth A24 movie poster to make our list of the year’s best one-sheets is this illustrated beauty for Joe Talbot’s Sundance sensation “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”
BONUS: “Ad Astra” (Dolby Cinema)
In case you needed more proof the “Ad Astra” marketing campaign was one of the year’s best.