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Poster Lab: The Worst Movie Posters of 2011

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Poster Lab: The Worst Movie Posters of 2011

Dishonorable Mention

A Dangerous Method (Italian): Don’t let those pretty faces fool you. While sheer actorly beauty kept the Italian one-sheet for David Cronenberg’s latest out of the Top 10, it can’t mask the fact that this is an absurdly lazy piece of advertising, a makeup ad masquerading as a movie poster. The French variation at least had the decency to imply what the film is about. This one simply implies studio starfucking. [Poster] [Article]

Atlas Shrugged: Or, at least, the designers did. In addtion to the Tea Party-targeted adaptation of Ayn Rand’s doorstopper looking like a dated TV movie, its poster reads like a flyer a Jehovah’s Witness might leave on your welcome mat, its beveled, golden, B-grade text beckoning for converts. As expected, the corner-printshop marketing couldn’t save the film—a blown opportunity, and part one of a planned trilogy—from tanking. [Poster]

Burning Palms: You don’t want to see Burning Palms? A multi-character L.A. drama featuring Shannen Doherty, Adrianna Barraza, a hippie-fied Lake Bell, and “five tales that will f#%! you up for life?” What about if this poster tries to sell it to you? No? Okay. [Poster]

The Worst

The Son of No One, Contagion, Martha Marcy May Marlene

10. The Son of No One: A blatant attempt to push Channing Tatum as a serious ac-tor, this ad for Dito Montiel’s grimy cop saga instead draws unneeded attention to Tatum’s tragic uglification, with those drastically exaggerated pores adding years to his newly plump face. And since the title throws you no bones in terms of the film’s plot, some sort of story indicator might have been nice. All that’s offered is that schizo cast list, which puts an international Oscar winner and Michael Corleone alongside an SNL alum and Mrs. Cruise. [Poster]

9. Contagion: None of the sloppy and ultra-serious character postersfor Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion were appealing, but this cirrhosis-colored shot of a cadaverous, about-to-bite-the-dust Gwyneth takes the gag-inducing cake. Anyone could surely argue that the poster’s elicitation of disgust and unease is precisely the point, but that says nothing of the whole campaign’s lack of inspiration, its only distinguishing factors a yellow hue and some generic scuffed-up edges. [Poster]

8. Martha Marcy May Marlene: Yeah, we get it, Fox Searchlight: that QR code obscuring Elizabeth Olsen’s face underscores her character’s lack of identity. But anybody can see through what’s really on display here, a cheap sales tactic trying to pass itself off as art. However much a sign of the times, turning an entire design into a smartphone-friendly web link is the equivalent of putting sensationalist words in your title to account for SEO. [Poster]

The Rum Diary, Jack and Jill, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

7. The Rum Diary: Centered around the most unflattering picture of Johnny Depp ever taken, a rendering that sees his girlish features freakishly blend with those of an octogenarian, this grossly-posed one-sheet for The Rum Diary shows the remnants of a decidedly un-wild Puerto Rican party, every bit of bash debris perfectly and pretentiously placed (even the curtains are conveniently pulled open by some phantom force). As if you weren’t already sick of Depp, here you get him hungover, mugging it as a character he’s too old to play, and rocking your grandpa’s underwear. [Poster]

6. Jack and Jill: Anytime a poster for a new Adam Sandler film is unveiled, it’s enough to cause your eyes to permanently roll back in your head. But a poster that sees Sandler in hideous drag is a kind of merciless torture, which has surely been felt by anyone who uses the New York subway system. This image for Jack and Jill isn’t all that terrible beyond its horrifying bottom-right quadrant, but Sandler’s audacity to shove his cross-dressed self into the faces of the working public highlights his contempt for mainstream moviegoers, which alone is ample cause to give this baby high list placement. [Poster]

5. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Or, as we’ll call it, Billy Elliot Sees Dead People. Believe it or not, Stephen Daldry’s latest is not a horror movie, even though that’s what’s surely implied by this creepy-cloying, speak-no-evil headshot of precocious (and way too precious) child actor Thomas Horn. So dead-eyed and airbrushed that he looks like he was plucked from Madame Tussaud’s, Horn seems to be stealing your soul as he peers over those perfectly manicured fingernails, suggesting that Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is not a post-9/11 weepie, but a companion piece to We Need to Talk About Kevin. [Poster]

Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, I Don't Know How She Does It, W.E.

4. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (French): Because a poster depicting father and son picking their granny-pantie wedgies wasn’t offensive enough, the French decided to go full-on Fame Monster when promoting Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, slipping a fatsuit-clad Martin Lawrence into a police-badge dress that nods to Gaga’s Kermit the Frog frock, and giving him a blonde wig and spider eyes to boot. One just…well, the words just escape you when looking at something like this, don’t they? Seriously, what were they thinking? [Poster]

3. I Don’t Know How She Does It: It’s not How, but Why that surrounds every aspect of this antiquated, feminist-comedy nightmare, including this fourth-grade, vertical-blind poster, which, if anything, calls to mind a bar graph of one’s stress levels while watching the movie. Why does the gal on the left look so awkwardly distracted? Why does Busy Phillips, whose character hates the others, look so chipper? Why is SJP—or SHE—slumped down so low in her little white window? Why didn’t anyone bother to put any effort into this design? And why, oh why would they accentuate that lack of effort by adding the tagline, “Let the Multi-Tasking Begin”? [Poster]

2. W.E.: Scout’s honor: This preliminary poster for W.E. was not created by Madonna’s 10-year-old son, Rocco. It’s a bona fide industry one-sheet, circulated when Madge’s costume romance was first making the festival rounds. A model of incongruous excess, this laughable hodgepodge could have surely done without those bottom-heavy, title-flanking figures, presumably tacked on in an attempt to clarify that terrible title. It may have also benefited from blending together two headshots that actually appear to be from the same film, thus not making those lickety-split drop shadows look so egregious. And it just might have done well to spare its audience a tagline as ludicrous as “In Love…WE Trust,” a phrase that sends both love and trust sailing out the window. [Poster] [Article]

New Year's Eve

1. New Year’s Eve: Where to start? With Hector Elizondo’s pitiful face at the center, which seems to say, “I’ll never forgive you, Garry Marshall”? With Ashton Kutcher’s distractingly out-of-place headshot, which seems pulled from a page in Us Weekly? Or how about the boundlessly tacky gold backdrop, which flagrantly underlines the shallow commercialism of this highway-to-hell celeb vehicle? Shamelessness hits a new low with the flagship poster for New Year’s Eve, perhaps the worst offender ever of the checkered-face approach. Flaunting its glut of A-List bait like glittery heroin, this shiny, happy shit collage represents the nadir of mainstream movie marketing, condescending to a fault and, not to mention, wildly disdainful of the passers-by who might not be toasting with solid-gold champagne flutes when the ball drops. The one source of amusement? Imagining all the poor souls who’ve been force-fed this drivel asking themselves, “Who the hell is Til Schweiger?” [Poster] [Article]