2017 Top Film Posters Crome YellowIllustration made a big comeback in mainstream circles, and in general, more studios were willing to take things next level. Sure, most of this list still represents indie studios, but, it also shows that the influence is spreading. More companies are starting to realize that floating heads and bland photos of movie stars aren’t gonna cut it anymore. These pieces all have heart, creativity, and go to great lengths to capture the essence of each film they’re representing.

Alien Covenant posterAlien Covenant / Ten30 Studios and BLT Communications: Ridley Scott inevitably chose to favor artificial intelligence rather than the titular aliens, but for a few moments, we thought that the series was returning to its horror roots with a bit more grandeur and scope. Pulling from Renaissance-style art, this is as bold and terrifying as you can get with mainstream poster art. Well played.

Bad Batch posterBad Batch / Canyon Design Group: Bad Batch is an exciting, neon daydream. Rather than just aping the film’s tone, I love that this series of posters captures its pulpy theatrics, signaling the arrival of a hard-hitting  film that isn’t here to make friends.

Colossal posterColossal / Tim Biskup, Boland Design Company: Colossal was an a amazing film that had a marketing campaign that kept almost all of its premise under wraps. With that being said, this illustration is stylish and fun, hinting at what the film would be without spoiling anything. This type of clean, geometric aesthetic is a rarity, and it’s done to great effect here.

Good Time poster Akiko StehrenbergerGood Time / Akiko Stehrenberger: Another portrait that beautifully captures the central bond at the film’s heart. I love what Stehrenberger did here, giving us something that could almost pass as a photo thanks to its realism and the pained expressions of her subjects. This is absolutely one of the year’s best films, and this captures its loose, fly-on-the-wall approach.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 posterGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 /  B O N D: Superhero films and Marvel films specifically are in the middle of a renaissance, but their posters almost always stink. Toying on the film’s musical backbone, this ballsy poster helps to sell the film on the strength of its characters alone – and not a single one is in the poster (aside from Groot)! Smart, cool and fun.

I Tonya poster Rory KurtzI, Tonya / Rory Kurtz: This is a late edition, but it stands out. Kurtz killed it earlier in the year with his Baby Driver poster, but whereas that film had to sell floating heads, this one gets room to breathe. It’s a simple, but elegant portrait of its white trash heroine, breaking the ice with a ferocity that seeps through the composition. I love how refined Kurtz’s art has been getting, and this is one of his best.

Ingrid Goes West poster Akiko StehrenbergerIngrid Goes West / Akiko Stehrenberger: Another obvious but still understated concept done in a sophisticated way. Stehrenberger captures the idea of Ingrid, a product of her internet persona and the hollowness that hides between each curated photo. This one is poignant and wonderfully sharp.

John Wick Chapter 2 posterJohn Wick Chapter 2 / LA: Sometimes the most literal solution is the best one! John Wick Chapter 2 transforms its titular character into a moving target, so what better way to illustrate that? Nailed it.

Killing of a Sacred Deer posterThe Killing of a Sacred Deer / OTMentertain: Like the film, this poster is pretty hard to explain, but somehow makes sense on a primal level. I love how it ties all of these characters together through a minimalist collage, one that’s creepy and hard to forget.

Lady Bird posterLady Bird / BLT Communications: At first, it seems like there isn’t much to this one, but while it isn’t super deep, it’s a great photo, stylized in a way that captures Lady Bird (played by Saoirse Ronan)’s Catholic upbringing. I love the blurred cross that comes to rest just on her head, drawing spatial tension while the stained-glass frame ties it all together.

Logan IMAX posterLogan: Who says the illustrated poster is dead? Director James Mangold basically created an ultra-violent western, and this poster is a reflection of that. This feels like the type of art we’d see in a old school theatre, you know right underneath a marquee. It also compliments how timeless this story feels.

Mother poster James Jeanmother! / James Jean: Ah, the first James Jean on the list. The second this poster was unveiled, I knew the film was going to be something special. The film delivered, but this wholly strange painting set the stage. Out of every selection on this list, this is the most elegant, jarring and brutal piece of work.

Phantom Thread posterPhantom Thread / eclipse: Another poster that uses nostalgia yet feels modern. This is simple, yet sophisticated, using a foreboding profile shot against a glamorous Vicky Krieps and a gown that pops off the frame.

Proud Mary posterProud Mary / Cullin Tobin, LA: To be honest, this film doesn’t look very good. I LOVE Taraji P. Henson, but this really weird trailer doesn’t connect for me. Regardless, these three posters are great, evoking a strong blaxploitation vibe and a heroin who looks dressed to kill.

Shape of Water poster James JeanThe Shape of Water / James Jean: One of my favorite films of the year, and one of the best posters to back it up. This lighter, ethereal variant of James Jean’s art follows the film’s impressionist themes, and how its characters are clinging onto fleeting emotions that are elusive yet worth fighting for. I could stare at this thing all day – it puts us in a trance and captures the singular romanticism that only director Guillermo del Toro can pull off.

Void poster GravillisThe Void / Gravillis Inc: Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s John Carpenter-esque ode to cosmic creature features is a low-key masterpiece. It’s influences are obvious, but the pair know how to make it all their own. What I love about these posters, aside from their three eerie illustrations, are how they only hint at the lunacy contained within the film. This is a perfect example of how to tease things just right, without giving away too much.