Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Top 100 Movie Posters

A great movie poster is a hard thing to find. Most posters are cut and paste jobs that don't sell the movie very well at all. A great poster should intrigue, shock, inspire & excite. It should be aesthetically beautiful or original. Above all, it should be so memorable that a single glance will be instantly recognizable.

I will be adding to this list all the time, old posters and new... But only the best movie posters of all time! I will also update the rankings every few months, as readers send in suggestions.

Post a comment with your personal choices. Your suggestion may just make the list!

To get things started, ranked in order from 1 to 100, here are the best ever examples of cinema poster art.




The Sin of Nora Moran American Beauty Pulp Fiction
If I had to pick one poster as the greatest of all time, it would have to be this gorgeous "Varga Girl" image from an obscure 1934 film. This is a perfect example of poster art. Perhaps the simplest and best poster of the past decade, this delicate image combines innuendo and beauty -- "Look Closer" is also one of the best taglines ever. Perhaps this could be considered the best poster of all time. The classic film noir femme fatale image. The 10¢ label adds a great touch. The bold colors. Perfect!




The Gold Rush Die Another Day Lord of War
Gorgeously rendered, this 1925 Chaplin image is instantly recognizable. There aren't too many posters one would rather have as wall art. This is one of the coolest teaser images ever. The red hot smoking barrel of James Bond's gun melting the ice. Superb shot! It may be hard to see in this smaller version, but the bullets that make up the image of Nic Cage are a sublime touch. This is a very inventive design.




Secretary Jaws Straw Dogs
One of the best teaser posters of all time, this image smacks of kinky office sex. This is one spectacularly sexy pose. This may be the most famous poster of all time... and it isn't even a shot from the film itself. This hand-drawn design is simply brilliant. The shattered glasses. The emotionless stare. This image really conveys the psychological trauma of the film's most infamous scenes.




Hard Candy The Cooler Casablanca
The inherent tension in this image makes the film a must see! The reference to Little Red Riding Hood in the clutches of sharp teeth makes this poster jump off the page. It is quite amazing that neon hadn't been used more often in movie posters over the years. Look how magnificently the image pops! How can this poster not be included on any list like this? The tantalizing red font splashed across the black and white image of Rick, Ilsa and the legendary supporting cast.




Lost in Translation Shawshank Redemption Romance & Cigarettes
Does it get any more bedraggled than that? The iconic image of Bill Murray's hotel room ennui makes this a poster gem. The iconic image of Tim Robbins after emerging from his cell, coupled with one of the greatest taglines ever, makes this a perfect movie poster. Kate Winslet makes any poster more beautiful, and this image is about as sexy as you will ever see. I also love the way the font is written, almost like it was scribbled in lipstick.




Reservoir Dogs Metropolis Irreversible
There are dozens of Reservoir Dogs poster out there. However, this one stands out because it combines the classic black and white shot with the blood red exterior. The gold poster with its sharp angles and ominous sense of impending doom makes this a classic pick. A cornerstone of cinema, this film deserves such a distinctive design. The reversal of the letters combined with the haunting image of Monica Bellucci alone in the dark makes this a very disturbing poster.




The Seven Year Itch Chinatown Rear Window
Maybe the most infamous image in pop-culture history is the one of Marilyn Monroe's dress blown by the subway vent. The vivid colors make this poster such a classic. It is beautifully designed. Frame this and hang it in a museum. I love the red brick color and the cinema screen shaped windows. This poster virtually demands that you see the film.




Gilda City Lights Titanic
Silver-screen siren, Rita Hayworth smoking in a slinky silk dress... it doesn't get more elegant than this French version of the 1946 classic A gorgeous and romantic work of art that truly captures the dreamy mood of this epic love story. I love the film... I love the poster. Both are perfect. Without question, this poster must be considered one of the most instantly recognizable in history. Two gorgeous stars and the bow of the tragic ship.




Unfaithful 2001: A Space Odyssey The End of the Affair
Combine the title and the sexy-as-hell image of Diane Lane strewn across her lover's torso, and you have sublime poster. Chilling -- an embryonic fetus with wide eyes yearning for discovery. The ultimate trip is certainly an accurate tag line. I love the faded silhouette of Big Ben in the rain and the lonely man walking away in the background. I want this poster framed and hung in my house.




Identity King Kong Breakfast at Tiffany's
Creepy and informative, this handprint poster with five life-like fingers and a chilling centerpiece is quite a visual. The 1933 poster bursts with color and energy so very prevalent in film art back then. This is one of the era's finest examples. There is a certain elegance and stylish charm that exudes from this poster. I love the modern use of color and framing.




Vertigo Angel-A Taxi Driver
There is something disturbing about this off-balance poster. It gives the viewer's eyes a sense of supreme awkwardness. Black and white is always a bold choice. When coupled with fog and back-lighting, this image of a towering Rie Rasmussen with extended shadows is a truly memorable design. There is something very lonely about this image. I love the colors and the mood here. One gets the sense of foreboding and pain from this simple shot.




Sullivan's Travels Papillon Hunt for Red October
The utter simplicity of this eye-catching poster is its greatest strength. Veronica Lake is clearly defined by unmistakable hair and striking features. The two grizzled faces of McQueen and Hoffman, visible through the prison door, make this an alarming image. There may be no better face to put on a poster than that of Sean Connery. His classic mug along with the simple and bold color scheme makes this instantly recognizable.




Dogville The Thin Red Line Anatomy of a Murder
Brown is a difficult color to work with. Not many are willing to try it. But this bold color scheme is a great choice here. Keeping with the tone of the film, this poster foregoes its many stars and bravely focuses on the aesthetic of war instead. Instantly recognizable, this poster was Premiere Magazine's choice as the #1 poster of all time.




The English Patient Barry Lyndon Office Space
As romantic a kiss as you are ever likely to see! This shot is a heavenly peek at this great film. Again... Simplicity rules the day. It is quite amazing how this basic design is so memorable. A man engulfed in post-it notes and one of the most truthful taglines in history. This is a brilliant poster that really conveys the tone of the film.




Last Tango in Paris La Dolce Vita The Descent
The steamy / blurry image conveys the sexy and dreamlike quality of the legendarily erotic film. Glamorous Italian cool seeps through every pore of this grand poster. The mystery... The elegance. A very clever nod to the hidden image on the moth in the "Silence of the Lambs" poster - The skull is made up of the six girls.




Attack of the 50ft Woman Magnolia 42nd Street
One of the silliest films deserves one of the silliest posters. However, despite that, this is one of the iconic poster images ever. The subtle blend of the images in and among the petals of the golden flower makes this a delicate and haunting poster. Classic! The cascading image of legs has been paid homage is tons of posters and films over the years.




Gerry Walk the Line The Graduate
The simple blocking references cubism and the nature of the film itself. It also foreshadows the schizophrenic nature of the title character(s). This is an instant classic. I have never seen a poster that looks remotely like this one. Superb. The colors may be a bit dull and faded, but the image may be the most famous one in film history. Anyone with the foresight to add that shot to a poster deserves some credit.




Collateral Perfume Brotherhood of the Wolf
The intensity of Tom Cruise's heavily stubbled face is very memorable. Simultaneously romantic and horrific. The woman's blood red hair spills out to create a visceral and haunting image. Superb! Mystery and intrigue lie waiting for you when you see this glorious image.




A Clockwork Orange Boogie Nights Rosemary's Baby
Another Kubrick film with a simple and powerful poster design. That shape is instantly recognizable. The star. The colors. The fonts. All unique! You could remove all the text and still know the film. A nightmare waiting to happen. There has always been something eerie about the silhouette of a baby carriage.




Nosferatu the Vampire 1000 Convicts and a Woman Paris, je t'aime
Perhaps not an original poster, but still wonderful. This is definitely a work of art. You've got to love that tag line! Wouldn't you love to see posters like that in theatres. A bright red heart bursting with Eiffel Towers... a special design for a special film.




Le Mepris The Rules of the Game Lolita
An beautiful depiction of the seductive Brigitte Bardot in Jean-Luc Godard's "Contempt". There is a warmth to that red glow in this poster. One of the great films with one of the great poster. The taunting image captures the taboo nature of the film's subject. A real Kubrick gem.




The Last Detail Duets The Truman Show
A hilarious and bold photo of the main star... This is a great example of letting the picture do all the work. Elegance and simplicity. This is the definition of the phrase "Less is More". Love this one! It is hard to see all the little photos that make up the big one. This is a nice visual pun for the film.




About Schmidt A Good Woman The 40 Year Old Virgin
Nicholson appears on yet another poster in this list... Here looking as bedraggled as it gets. There is something very elegant about this poster. It really conveys the 1930's feel with wonderful artwork. It's that ridiculous look on Steve Carell's face that makes this a classic poster image.




Tristana Artificial Intelligence Gangs of New York
Catherine Deneuve graces another entry in this list with this startling profile shot. Mesmerizing. I love the quiet way in which it appears that the little boy has stepped out from the A. This poster would be higher on the list if they hadn't resorted to floating heads above the skyline.


Along with one of the most famous images in the history of film, this quad poster gorgeously uses two distinct colors and bold simplicity to create a title banner that is virtually impossible to forget. This should be a lesson to all the insanely busy posters out there that try to cram in as much information as possible.




Lawrence of Arabia Crash Minority Report
This is an iconic hand-drawn rendition of the legendary character. This is a stunning poster. The emotion on that face is powerful enough to make you want to see the film. It was such a nice touch to have the eye, not only be visible, but to be in color rather than the tinted blue.




Munich Captivity Silence of the Lambs
This is a somber image that carries an emotional weight with such simplicity. Brilliant! Being buried alive is one of my worst nightmares... This shot is a desperate visualisation of my fear. I'll admit it... the poster makes me uncomfortable. It is not pleasant to look at, but it is effective.




Requiem for a Dream The Exorcist M.A.S.H.
This is an oddly designed poster... very rare to see such different images split by a title banner. I love the iconic image of Jennifer Connelly on a pier, also used in "Dark City". You can just about hear that infamous music merely by looking at the poster. A desperate and moody image, a great use of light and B&W. A surreal image that has been copied many times. I find the blend of hand and legs very unsettling. Is it just me?




Fargo Showgirls Premonition
The textured knitting motif is used brilliantly in this off-beat poster for a classically off-beat film. A dreadful film... A classic poster design. That silhouette is instantly recognizable to all. Fabulously inventive and creepy, a face made from branches and birds makes this the best of 2007 so far.




Eternal Sunshine... Adaptation Manhattan
Joel & Clementine break the ice in this memorable shot from the film. The trippy and eccentric nature of the film is evident in the poster art. Woody Allen boils down this NYC relationship film to a sublime B&W still.




Alien Star Wars: Episode 1 All About Eve
The image is recognizable, but it is the fabulous tagline that makes this poster so great. "In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream!" The foreshadowing teaser image is just about the only good thing to come from this truly disappointing George Lucas sequel/prequel. There is something energetic and vibrant about the inertia of this design. It feels very tied to the decade.




Belle de Jour Notorious Bettie Page Stalker
This poster hints at the wonderfully erotic nature of Bunuel's masterpiece with Catherine Deneuve. What a perfect tease! Bold and distinctive colors frame the iconic image of Gretchen Mol as Bettie Page. This is a great example of simplicity. Thanks to Stanley M. for this wonderful suggestion. This obscure Tarkovski film poster is eerie beyond belief. Love the colors!


The Rocketeer
The only real reason to see the film is to catch a glimpse of Jennifer Connelly in one of her most resplendent roles. However, the UK Quad poster has a spectacular art-deco with tremendous kinetic power. It is simply gorgeous.




Jules et Jim Gun Crazy Le Divorce
This immortal image of Jeanne Moreau has been paid homage in Cameron Crowe's "Vanilla Sky". More humorous than anything else, this is a perfect example of pulp art poster design. At first, you may not notice the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower in the cleavage. Nice touch!


L'Ammaliatrice (The Flame of New Orleans)
Marlene Dietrich extended in her full glory in a sensual artistic rendition. This is the kind of classy quad-poster that you could hang as art in your home. This reader suggestion definitely flew under my radar. Thanks to Jim S. for the tip!



El Pira said...

Good work, but in my opinion you have forgotten "Scarface"´s poster.

Maria Molina Parra said...

and Blue Velvet!!! it´s my favourite ever!!!

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