I think I can say with confidence that something I posited last year is coming more and more true: Poster design is an artform on the decline. Once again, I would use the word "mild" to describe this year's poster offerings, so I will. Shit is mild as fuck out here, yo.
The continuing rise of art collectives like Mondo and Hero Complex makes way more sense when you survey the modern poster landscape. It really has been getting more and more bleak as the years go on, and while the system doesn't seem to be making any improvements, the outliers continue upping their game and creating art for film that you don't see very often.
However, this write-up isn't about them, so strap in for Mr. Dave's Mild Ride. And honestly, I paint a gloomy picture, but there are some genuinely good posters here, and my favorite of the year is one of the most deliciously clever ones I've seen in a while. I think next year I'll try to include a section highlighting the best posters from Mondo/HCG. It's tricky because they do a lot of artwork for older films, but I have all of 2016 to figure out how to make it work.
Anyway, let's get this thing going! Hover over the images with your mouse to see my commentary, or tap on it with your spacephone. Enjoy!
Usually the trend I comment on is some kind of design style that is echoed across various posters. This year, I had a lot of trouble noticing a design pattern that I would consider trend-worthy.
Last year, for example, I commented on the use of frames/borders, which I saw in a lot of posters this year.
Makes sense, it's still making a comeback. Of course, that means you begin to get really shitty posters that don't utilize the frame well at all:
This got me thinking about how other trends are increasingly used poorly. We see this every year with the portrait studio posters, and 2015 is no exception:
Just awful. They don't understand what made 40-Year-Old Virgin's poster sing. It's not just planting a person in front of a gradient, it's all about who the person is that's being photographed. Mugging for the camera like a butthole doesn't convey anything. At least they seem to be trying in Trainwreck, but it's too little too late.
And it's not just portrait studio posters that are butchered with alarming regularity, it happens with Michael Clayton posters every year too:
It was then that I realized that this year's trend is an all-too familiar one: Rip-offs.
With the above examples, I understand. 40YOV and Michael Clayton are two very good posters to rip off. But lately it's been happening with other trends that shouldn't even be trends, like the Instagram filters I talked about a few years ago:
Why is this still a thing? Are millennials still impressed by this look?
There's also the still-rampant use of boring, modern, sans-serif typefaces. You can see it in a lot of the posters I flagged as shitty this year, and above with Lily and Kat, which uses Neutra, aka the font from Girls, aka the font that pretty much any piece of media about young women is using these days.
The Steve Jobs poster at least makes sense, since Apple more or less pioneered this aesthetic. But the others? Blandsville.
Some posters don't even need to be following one of the trends. Some use such played-out design choices that they come out looking nearly identical even though these two were made by two completely different design houses:
Some, and the most damning of all, are complete rip-offs of other designs from not even that long ago (Bad Words came out LAST YEAR):
What the hell, man! Are we so tapped out that we have to resort to varying degrees of blatant forgery? I sure hope not. I mean, of course there's gonna be some overlap with different designs, but the laziness I've been seeing is really disheartening.
At least there were a few posters that took the concept of ripping off a bit more literally:
Here's hoping that next year's offerings give us a little more originality. Thanks for reading!