Although prominent displays of guns, guffaws, and gadgetry remain popular tropes among a majority of contemporary film posters, a select number each year are able to transcend such numbing repetition by carefully attuning the all-important singular image (and marketing tool) toward the specificities of the film at hand. Twenty fourteen is no different in that regard, with several of the posters listed (and shown) below providing not only compelling complimentary texts for the poster’s accompanying film, but, in some cases, more adeptly rendering the suggested themes than the film itself (Gone Girl, we’re looking at you). Whether colorful or carefully composed, these posters aren’t just suggestions for adorning your home office or home-theater room (though as such, they would be the shit), but meaningful additives to deepening dimensions for the films being marketed.
Liam Neeson is back—no literally, he’s falling backward in this kinetic poster for Non-Stop, still shooting at the terrorists even as his airplane hits zero gravity. It’s hard to think of a recent action-movie poster that so adeptly teases the promised foot-in-ass theatrics of its vaunted star’s grizzled persona.
Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves is calm, but undergirded by an unnerving sense of claustrophobia, much like its poster, which cleanly frames its trio of stars in juxtaposition with a dark nighttime sky, lit only by a distant full moon. The pull quotes and festival credentials are well placed and balanced, but it’s the framing, even imprisoning of the film’s protagonists that sharply aligns with Reichardt’s insistence that these characters are trapped, in time and space, by their actions and desires.
The Purge: Anarchy
The “oh fuck”-ness of this poster for The Purge: Anarchy is off the charts, as “An American Tradition” is not only bound explicitly to one’s right to bear arms simply through colors and graphics, but also to violence as inextricable from the concept of patriotism itself. Grenades, brass knuckles, bowie knives, baseball bats, and AK-47s: land of the free, home of the knaves.
10. John Wick
If genre films can be distilled down to a singular quality or essence, then this poster for John Wick understands that aim completely, much like the film itself, by offering a fourth-wall breach on the form of a gun barrel. The stand-in O nicely echoes the unfocused lights permeating a background of presumably urban hustle, with Keanu Reeves’s itchy trigger finger barely able to contain itself. This poster suggests the film as a bullet to the head. Indeed, what you see is what you get.
9. The Rover
Although the one-sheet featuring Guy Pearce got most of the play, this B-side poster offers a stark image of Robert Pattinson in profile and is, overall, more in line with The Rover’s (and character’s) tone of a desperation not easily spoken. Indeed, Pattinson’s pursed lips and the jaundiced chiaroscuro are thoroughly convincing visual supplements to the poster’s declarative tagline. The only mistake is that pesky Cannes stamp of approval on Pattinson’s brow; otherwise, few still-image close-ups carry as much evocative anguish as this one.
8. Inherent Vice
Featuring a neon-green font taken directly from the cover of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, this poster for Inherent Vice offers ’70s excess and sexism through a singular image of psychedelic color play, changing a sun-baked backside into dueling pink monuments that could make even pop artist Allen Jones blush. The film may be “coming soon” as promised, but ironically no one in Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is, as the film’s impotent collective of uneasy riders and possible pinkos are tersely suggested by the poster’s visual implications.