From the Design Desk

From the Design Desk: Posters of 2017’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture

Courtesy of ABC

Nine films are nominated for Best Picture for this year's Academy Awards.

It’s Oscars season, and nine films have been nominated for Best Picture. While the aesthetics of movies from “La La Land” to “Moonlight” have been widely discussed, the posters that represent these films have become somewhat of an afterthought.

Here’s what The Daily Orange’s design staff thinks of the 2017 Best Picture nominees’ posters.

Emma Comtois | “Lion”

lion

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

The divided imagery in the poster for “Lion” echoes its core thematic elements. I love the type choice for the title and name credits, but the search bar seems out of place with the rest of the poster’s aesthetic.

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

This poster is one of the most successful of the Academy Award nominees in capturing its themes. It employs multiple layers of the story. All the dominant relationships are represented. From the romantic to the familial, this poster brings them all to the forefront and intermingles them in a creative way. Saroo (Dev Patel) and Lucy (Rooney Mara) indirectly stare at each other through an image of Saroo’s old home and life. It also brings up the theme of division between two worlds through the very clear sections in the poster. The tracked out lettering in the title reinforces this distance. However, with all these strong elements, the modern search bar seems crude in comparison to the rest of the poster. I understand the internet’s crucial role in the story, but the heavy block of color weighs down the poster. While the concept is there, the execution falls flat because I would rather see a cleaner poster with the focus on human characters, not the technological aspects.

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

While “Lion” has one of the strongest posters, if I was to award Best Poster, I would have to give it to “Moonlight.” I love that the cool color scheme is right in line with the tone of the film. It also seamlessly combines three photos of a child, teenager and adult, which is no easy feat, but undoubtedly represents the movie’s core story. I usually am not a fan of type with effects applied to it, but in this case the glow on the letters makes a lot of sense. I love the absolute simplicity in this poster because it puts the focus on the strong imagery. The poster for “Moonlight” accomplishes the clean design that “Lion” almost hit, but missed by a search bar.

 

Ali Harford | “Arrival”

arrival

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

When I first saw this poster, I wondered why there was a giant sunflower seed in the middle of a field.

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

I understand that the thing in the middle of this poster is the alien ship. Still though, the sunflower seed with “WHY ARE THEY HERE” slapped across it doesn’t really make me feel intrigued or slightly threatened, which was what I felt watching the movie. I think this poster might’ve looked cleaner and it might’ve better represented the themes of the movie if they took out the random helicopter on the left and if the ship wasn’t shaped like an almond. That being said, there are elements that I like. I think they chose a great typeface for “Arrival” at the bottom of the poster, and I like how “here” is emphasized in the middle, since it’s not touching the spaceship. It emphasizes the word which helps to reflect one of the main themes of the movie: Why are the aliens here?

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

This poster doesn’t deserve Best Poster. I just can’t get over that giant sunflower seed. Also, the clouds at the bottom seem a little “extra.” They give off cheap, Halloween-haunted-house-fog-machine vibes. I think either “Moonlight” or “Lion” would take home the prize for Best Poster.

 

Andy Mendes | “Manchester by the Sea”

manchester-by-the-sea

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

I’m conflicted on the poster for “Manchester by the Sea.” While I appreciate its unorthodox and interesting placement of the credits on the middle right and its dynamic visual aspects such as the seagull flying right at us, it commits my personal cardinal sin of movie poster design: placing reviews on the poster. When I see reviews on the poster, I always assume either the designer got lazy and didn’t want to fill any more white space, or the studio doesn’t have a lot of faith in the film so they decided to slap some random, nice-sounding adjectives some critics said on the poster to attract more viewers.

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

I think the poster does a great job of showing the themes of the film. The film is primarily about Lee (Casey Affleck, center in the poster), and how he finds himself the new guardian of his son-in-law, Patrick, after Patrick’s father dies of a heart attack. Patrick wished to remain in his hometown, Manchester-by-the-Sea, but Lee, who has terrible and sad memories associated with the town, is hesitant to move back there to care for Patrick. The poster captures this by placing Lee facing away from seaside town, trapped between the town and his ex-wife, Randi. In the poster, Lee is trapped between a rock and a hard place, which is how he feels throughout the entire film, as he constantly feels as if he has no way out of his situation.

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

While I do admire the “Manchester by the Sea” poster’s thematic relevance and creative visuals, the reviews on the poster really are a dealbreaker for me, so I think this poster loses out in our Best Poster category. Instead, I’m going to give the honors to “Hacksaw Ridge,” which has a compelling visual that sells the film so well.

 

Layla Molayem | “Hell or High Water”

hell-or-high-water

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

It has a lot of different things going on, yet it is not overwhelming to look at. The depth of field in the poster is very cool, too. This poster informs the viewers of the movie all the necessary details to know.

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

I think this design works well because it has all the main characters of the film and gives of the same feel and tone as the movie. It is simple but intricate at the same time.

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

I think the poster for “Fences” would deserve the Oscar for Best Poster.

 

Lucy Naland | “Hidden Figures”

hidden-figures

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

I love this poster’s layers and strong composition, which match the body language of its three main actresses. There also isn’t too much text to distract from this imagery, which I appreciate.

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

This poster tells you everything you need to know about “Hidden Figures.” It screams “NASA” as characters Mary, Katherine and Dorothy invoke imagery of astronauts walking onto the tarmac before lifting off. They walk boldly and with strength as an aircraft launches behind them, asserting their role in this accomplishment. Even the sun in the background is rising, implying the dawn of a new era – both in technology and civil rights in America. It’s one of those highly structured movie posters, similar to a those of fantasy or epic adventure films, that you just know is going to take you on a journey and show you something you’ve never seen before.

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

I think this poster is a strong contender, but has major competition from “Moonlight,” “La La Land” and “Hacksaw Ridge.” “Hidden Figures” does the best job at informing viewers what they’re about to watch, but there’s something to be said about the incredibly strong and beautiful designs of those other three.

 

Kiran Ramsey | “Hacksaw Ridge”

hacksaw-ridge

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

I really like the simplicity of this poster. There’s nothing worse than a movie poster that’s covered in inflating quotes and small credit text that no one can — or will — read. The image is striking and it takes up most of the space, with only a small blip at the top about the director to attract Mel Gibson fans, like me.

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

“Hacksaw Ridge” is gory and heartbreaking, but in the end, it’s an uplifting story of heroism. All of these characteristics can be seen from the poster, as Andrew Garfield’s character, a medic, is pictured carrying a wounded soldier to safety. But the theme of religion plays a very important part in the movie, which isn’t seen in this poster. Desmond Doss was a Seventh-day Adventist and the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. He saved 75 men without carrying a gun. This is definitely not your typical war movie, so a short headline about this major plot point could have remedied the problem and attracted more viewers who usually don’t head to the theatre to watch war movies, like me again.

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

I don’t think this movie poster deserves the Oscar for Best Poster. Though I think the movie is inspiring and brilliant, the poster is missing a major theme of the movie and is a little misleading regarding missing limbs. In my opinion, “Moonlight” should win the Oscar for Best Poster. The movie is split into three parts that show the main character at a different age. Not only does the poster reflect this through the three “slices,” where the main character is shown at each age, but the colors are reminiscent of moonlight and set the scene for a deeply personal drama.

 

Jordana Rubin | “Moonlight”

moonlight

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

The “Moonlight” poster is as beautiful as it is symbolic of the coming-of-age tale it represents. The poster takes on one of the biggest design trends of 2016 — monochromatic and analogous color stories in hues of blue and purple — but takes a stunning new spin on an otherwise tired motif.

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

The poster features the three main actors: Alex Hibbert, Ashton Summers and Trevante Rhodes, who are blended so seamlessly into one face, it takes a second glance to realize it’s comprised of the three men representing equally the chapters of Chiron’s life. The team behind this poster perfectly executed what is probably the hardest and most important job of a designer, which is to highlight the incredible work everyone else has put into a project without overshadowing it. “Moonlight” has been praised for its outstanding cast, and the ease of the transition from one actor to another shows just how great a job “Moonlight” casting directors did. Additionally, the thin neon typeface balances out the rest of the composition and gives the poster a sense of warmth, which is otherwise absent from the piercing stare above.

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

Critics have applauded “Moonlight” as one of the best films of the year, but also as having one of the best posters. Unlike the film, which is a dark horse for Best Picture, the poster is the clear frontrunner in this category. The minimalist — but with no doubt challenging — design perfectly matches the tone of the film: intimate, powerful and impossible to look away from.

 

Rori Sachs | “La La Land”

la-la-land

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

This poster captures the magic and heart of “La La Land.” What better way to highlight the movie than depict the characters dancing under the stars, above the city?

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

The characters’ diagonal movement is dynamic and invites intrigue. The typeface emphasizes how modern and vintage coexist throughout the film, while subliminally referencing Blue Note jazz albums.

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

I would give this poster an Oscar because it emphasizes how simple and genuine the movie is.

 

Alex Szelewski | “Fences”

fences

Courtesy of ABC

What was your first impression of the poster?

At first glance I enjoy the general layout of the poster for Fences — it’s clean and simple.  

How successful is the poster at capturing the movie’s story and themes? What could be better about the poster?

When you compare this poster to the other Oscar nominees, “Fences” falls flat. Having Denzel and Viola Davis sit in reflection is a strong concept, but I’m not sure if it the right way to illustrate their life. In the film they are constantly battling adversities, and the poster fails to illustrate this, which I think could have created an interesting visual. Layout-wise I love that this poster was done in black and white. I also love the typeface they used; I just wish the names were a bit smaller so they weren’t competing with the title so much.

Would this movie deserve an Oscar for Best Poster? If not, which one does?

Although I love Denzel and it hurts to say it, I don’t think “Fences” should win an Oscar for Best Poster. I may be biased since it’s now my favorite movie, but I would say “La La Land” should take the Oscar. Unlike the “Fences” poster, the poster for “La La Land” captures the essence of the movie: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone living in a fairytale world. I knew it was too good to be true.

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