The Best Film Posters Of 2021 (2023)

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Spotting and scrutinizing movie posters this year has felt brand new – like seeing the world with fresh eyes as we rush back into cinemas and can once again place faith in the pictures we see, knowing we will, finally, slowly, be able to bookmark these promises with a trip to the cinemas once more. That’s not to say we’re totally out of the woods yet – rather that there is simply more hope and excitement rather than just longing and loneliness as there was when we made this list this time last year.

Right now, we celebrate – the colors, the emotion, the unexpected thrills and bold statements filmmakers are once more making with the first images we see of the movies we will so soon fall in love with. Expect groundbreaking elegance, daring playfulness, tasteful provocation, and as many dumbfounding moments as any year has given us. They never really did go anywhere – but the movies are back.

“Annette”

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The waves are crashing and the rain is pouring, but Henry McHenry and his wife Anne are still waltzing towards their downfall. Leos Carax embraces the operatic, the melodramatic, and the absurd with “Annette,” part family drama, part love story, and part cautionary tale about just how extreme art can be when it defines you. The poster relies on the contrast between a foamy petrol blue and sporadic flashes of mustard yellow – they shouldn’t go together yet the poster screams a song of great beauty and bravery. There could have been so much more kaleidoscopic chaos, but by zooming in on the couple (rather than their eponymous baby daughter) you come closer to understanding just how high the stakes are, and how much the risk of holding another person’s hand might cost you.

“The Batman”

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​​When you have to re-introduce the world to a character they know so well, simplicity and subversion will be the paradox that leads to success. We know his name, this villain has been teased before in the comics, but this striking image is still somehow brand new. An ominous red light floods the frame and shades Paul Dano’s Riddler with an unnatural sense of danger, while the juvenile scrawl threatening (or inviting?) Batman to join in with the games adds a sense of suspense. The focus, too, is key: this isn’t really about the character and so the blur across Riddler’s silhouette adds to the drama, the deep knife carvings of his tiny envelope – somewhat prehistoric – gaining unparalleled horror. It’s unsettling, like nails on a chalkboard, and so it’s perfectly effective.Quite a few excellent versions in the overall grouping of new “Batman” posters too.

“Benedetta”

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It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that Paul Verhoeven is a big fan of the naked female body. The director of steamy, often shlocky erotic thrillers hasn’t exactly shied away from it – yet there’s still something so pure and powerful about the elegant poster for “Benedetta.” Described since its Cannes debut earlier this year as “the sexy nun film,” Virginie Efira’s immaculate pout and perfectly fitted snow-white tunic fit the “nun” part, while a slim opening in the fabric teases her right breast. It could have been more (although for the film’s classification purposes, could it actually?) but there’s also something of a spot-the-difference or blink-and-you’ll-miss-it eroticism (obviously) to it, that lesser filmmakers might have left entirely unspoken. But when has Verhoeven really tried to keep anything hidden?

“The French Dispatch”

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Sure, the traditional New Yorker “French Dispatch” poster is the one that most know and yes, it’s pretty good. Anderson’s film is a quasi, affectionate valentine to the New Yorker, to journalism and the joys of reading journalistic long-form stories like the heralded magazine features, and also to the lonely joys of living abroad as an ex-patriot. There are basically two sets of “final” posters made available closer to its release date. One is the turquoise one which looks like a tribute to the BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, which makes sense when you think of “French Dispatch” as this rich, disparate, potpourri cornucopia of different stories, quirky characters, and idiosyncratic personalities told in a bunch of styles. The second is again, more in the vein of the New Yorker, basically four different posters for the four different short films that feature in this anthology movie (and dozens more made too). Created by illustrator Javi Aznarez and graphic designer Erica Dorn (there’s a great story about how they made the posters here in Eye On Design), they are rich, colorful, and wonderfully capture the whimsical, playful, and manicured spirit of Anderson’s latest diorama-like spectacle. – RP

“The Green Knight”

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David Lowery‘s fantasy epic “The Green Knight” is evocative, fairytale-ish, nightmarish, and adventurous in the best sense; like watching a classic ’80s throwback movie for kids that was thrilling, but was not afraid to be scary and still totally worked for adults. Trying to please everyone and pleasing no one now, they kinda don’t make ’em like this anymore. Lowery’s film is rich, layered, timeless, epic, and imbued with the triumphant notions of overcoming your greatest fears, worries, and self-doubts. Fittingly, its stylish posters— which also feature some terrifically designed solo character posters of foxes and other strange creatures in the movie— are bold, striking, and utterly triumphant.

“The Hand of God”

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Paolo Sorrentino‘s coming-of-age opus “The Hand Of God,” could be said to be Fellini and “Amarcord“-esque: a bawdy and lively look at Italian life with trials and tribulations and laughter and tears, it’s a pretty gorgeous movie overall and dulls his trademark lavish style for something a little bit more humanist and therefore poignant. But the movie— about a young boy who pursues his love for football as family tragedy strikes, shaping his uncertain but promising future as a filmmaker—does begin with one key and striking moment of surrealism or magical realism in a dilapidated home. A woman, seemingly suffering from mental health issues, but also just treated like garbage that doesn’t help, finds herself lost in a decrepit apartment falling apart with a chandelier on the ground. It’s an evocative image that’s a bit inscrutable but does time into its ideas of fate and destiny. Moreover, it does make an incredible image for a poster and it doesn’t hurt that poster has a damn fine handsome quote on the top of it. – Rodrigo Perez

“The Humans”

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A family Thanksgiving dinner can and should usually evoke (at least in cinema) warmth, excess – the good kind – and endless comforts. But there’s an ominous energy to the poster of “The Humans,” leaning into the shadows cast by Jayne Houdyshell’s back (she’s the one actor in Stephen Karam’s film who also starred in his originating Broadway play) that swallows the bottom third of the poster in darkness. The top third is dirty and bare, too – a small smile from Beanie Feldstein tries to bring holiday cheer to this dinner table, but you can sense something more sinister brewing in the empty spaces between the interlocked hands of all these relatives, trying so hard to stay together as everything falls apart.

“King Richard”

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Out of every genre, the biopic is one that tends to suffer the most soulless and unimaginative posters. But then “King Richard” isn’t really a traditional biopic – the focus is shared between tennis supernovas Venus and Serena Williams, and their father Richard. Will Smith plays the ferociously ambitious parent and coach, and the poster leans into a loving simplicity in the relationship with his daughters. A tiny shopping cart is filled with lime-green tennis balls, Venus and Serena gleefully riding it as their dad pushes them along. There’s no court, no crowd – just a family lifting each other up and moving forward. Plus, the scrawled red typeface adds a surprising lightness. Is he the superstar, or is he just trying to convince everybody else so they’ll place more faith in his daughters? The answers sit just below their feet: “Venus, Serena, and a plan for greatness.”

“Last Night in Soho”

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Take your pick, Edgar Wright’s “Last Night In Soho” has a treasure trove of amazing posters to pick from. In fact, if you had to label one champion this year for the best collection of posters, ‘Soho’ is probably it (see more here). Created by artist James Paterson, the ghostly watercolors used in his ‘Soho’ one-sheet are as haunting and striking as the movie itself. “Last Night In Soho” centers on a young girl lost in London, transported back in time through memory to find a horrible nightmare from the past that she gets inexorably drawn into. It’s full of stylish seduction, mystery, murder, and of course, the fear of losing yourself to the madness of past transgressions. Paterson’s poster nails that all in one captivating image that holds many tormented gazes. – RP

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