Each Wednesday through the week of the 2019 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 22, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.
It’s that time in the Award Chase that we look at the posters from the season’s contenders. From romance to profiles, posters sell the storyline and entice moviegoers to spend their money on the films. They take notes from well-done images of the past or create something new. This year, there is no underlying theme to them, but here at Take 2, we find some common threads. Here’s a look at some of the trends.
Just your type
In many cases, movies sell themselves according to star power and big names, but these are attracting audiences with their use of typography. “Mid90s” and “Eighth Grade” star relatively unknown, young actors in independent movies, both helmed by first-time directors. The large type draws in the viewer to look at an unfamiliar face and get to know the subject without having to know their name first. “Sorry to Bother You” and “Three Identical Strangers” use unconventional type to illustrate unconventional stories. The poster for the psychotic comedy starring Lakeith Stanfield already is already a preview to the craziness that is to come, while the yellow and poster image for the documentary previews the odd subject of triplets that were separated at birth and raised by three different families.
Lovers and friends
To sell a love story, whether it’s between boss and employer, parent and child, or actual lovers, it has to be believable. Instead of waiting for 10 minutes to pass in a movie, the poster establishes coupledom before the trailers are screened. For “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Leave No Trace” and “A Star is Born,” a meeting of the foreheads is required to convey a loving connection. No kiss is required for these movies. In contrast, “Disobedience” features a kiss between the two leads, Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, that is provocative and forbidden. And although Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen do not play lovers or family, the poster for “Green Book” confirms their unlikely friendship and places in society in this true story film. Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet are seen together in an aged photo for “Beautiful Boy” in an image that shows happier times between father and son. The only couple not locked together is Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal in “Wildlife,” about a family uprooted by the husband’s need to first forest fires in Idaho. Their distance shows how far apart they are in their life choices.
All together now
If typography or just a couple is not enough, posters cram as many of its starting lineup on one sheet as possible. “Black Panther” continues the Marvel tradition of getting all the characters a spot. “Isle of Dogs” uses Japanese traditional design, emphasizing a vertical format to show off the many dogs and their human friend in the stop-animation feature. “Widows” and “Chappaquiddick” use panels to show off their all-star cast.
God complex and in profile
When star power exists, it’s easier to sell the movie with a single image. For “Colette,” “First Reformed,” “At Eternity’s Gate” and “The Mule,” the poster takes the face of an Oscar winner or a nominee and blows up the image. For the profile shots, there is more on an emphasis on the character the actor is reviving through their performance, as seen with Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins Returns.” What’s different from the crowd is “Tully,” with Charlize Theron’s decorated face with the film’s name. However, she is not the title character.
A world turned upside down
There’s a disturbance in the neighborhood. Without saying what the movie is about, having a house that is flipped over on a poster means that it’s not your average family film. “Hereditary,” a horror film about evil lurking with three generations of one family, and “Thoroughbred,” about two best friends raised with good genes and money but are very off the mark, are examples of posters that say so much without having to hit the viewer with a cartoon-like hammer.
Front and center
Lastly, all that the character is about can be placed right in the middle. For “Old Man and the Gun” and “The Hate U Give,” the designers paid attention to what makes the character the center of attention. “Old Man” uses Robert Redford’s briefcase, his old-fashioned suit and his sense of urgency. “The Hate U Give” draws from the source material’s book cover, but it also recalls images of recent protests against police-related shootings. “BlacKkKlansman” uses controversial images, like a Klansman’s hood and a Black Power fist, and combines with the look of the 1970s with the leather jacket and an afro pick. All four things describe Ron Stallworth, the real-life black Colorado undercover police officer who brought down the Klan. “Boy Erased” features Lucas Hedges in prayer, a central theme of the true-story film on a young man whose family forcefully sends him to gay conversion camp. “A Private War” illustrates the perils a war journalist faces on the field, choosing not show Marie Colvin’s face with the eyepatch she was known for.