The Best Movie Posters of 2016

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The Best Movie Posters of 2016

In 2016, the distinction between traditional cinema fare and works created for streaming services continued to blur. Netflix, Amazon, and ESPN all have highly acclaimed projects eligible for the Oscars this year. At the same time, indie and global movies are more able than ever to find their audience without access to movie houses thanks to the rise of niche channels and streaming services. Despite all this change, one constant is the well-designed movie poster. As a beacon on a busy sidewalk or as an icon on your Apple TV, a powerful image offering hints—but not spoilers—of the visual narrative to come is critical to hooking viewers.

A number of trends emerged in gathering the best posters of the year. Cool hues of purple and blue neon were prominent (Moonlight, Neon Bull, The Neon Demon). Starkly isolated black and white figures were another trend (Obit, Tickled, The Lobster, Complete Unknown). Ominous takes on patriotic themes emerged as well, perhaps foreshadowing the unexpected results of the U.S. Presidential election (Jackie, The Birth of a Nation, O.J.: Made in America, 13th, and American Pastoral). Global fare provided fresh designs, including stark photography (Frantz, Blind Christ, and In the Last Days of the City) and mysterious paintings (The Ornithologist).

The Handmaiden, another global import was a real standout this year with an ornately illustrated U.S. poster that departed from the also compelling photo-eroticism used in international marketing posters. Narrative hints remain in the trees for those looking closely.

Finally, a few uniquely quirky approaches to poster design round out this year’s best. The prescient fake-news subject matter of Operation Avalanche is well served by a design featuring tweezers putting the Earth in its place during a staged lunar landing. Other unique designs include: Weiner, Wiener-Dog (no relation), Toni Erdmann, and alternate designs for Everybody Wants Some and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.