Let's look at a few relative newbies.
The more we think about The King's Speech, the more we worry for The Social Network. (Seriously.. We'll see what happens with the precursor awards. Will critics rally like they have lately for one film, or will the votes be divvied up between a few darlings?). Speech was the easiest Oscar call to make back in the first round of predictions (April 1st) since it's one of those movies: The kind that wouldn't exist at all if there weren't such things as gold statues to be won.
But what to make of the poster? One supposes it's adequately conveyed what it needed to. If it were a personal ad it would be like so:
Weinsteinian 3some Seeks AMPAS Swingers to Cuddle. We're serious-minded but totally not stuffy; We could be elitist (the royal We!) but we're populist at heart, like you! If you enjoy endearing peculiarities and good-hearted companions, have a sherry and join us for exuberant conversation (some stammering) and light role-play (WW II reenactments!).Will you date that movie or is that the most boring poster you've ever seen? And why do their faces all have differently light sources? Couldn't Colin, Helena and Geoffrey at least pose for the poster together? I mean, you had them all in the same room several times for weeks. Damn you, Photoshop!
The Rabbit Hole marketing team has a trickier sell. They've got a bigger star to work with (Nic') but they can't really sell it as a star vehicle since it's prestige drama and public reaction to her tends to be so divisive. I like what they've done, though. Though I write about the theater far more than any other movie blog, I'm not well versed with this particular play, so I only know that it's about a couple who've lost a toddler. But that tire is pretty haunting and easy to project feeling onto, even if you know nothing about the material. The rope is unsettling too in its noose-like way. But before you get too depressed, there's that pastel blue sky and transparent type suggesting spirituality rather than emotionally pornographic gloom. Smart move, yes?
Or is it too calming like those anti-depressant ads on TV. Abilify!
I'm including these two posters to illustrate the marked difference between posters that have actual creative joy/heft [only allowed in "teaser" form] and posters that someone created at their desk only because they are given paychecks to do so. Now, it may well be that, as movies, Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls is terrible whilst Peter Weir's The Way Back is great (This is surely the first time in the history of the world that anyone has ever compared Tyler Perry to Peter Weir: enjoy.) but if that's the case, their movie's one-sheets tell the exact opposite story.
Floating movie star heads may well be the bane of movie posters for the past three decades, but stripes have been torturing us for nearly as long, now. It's weird that Hollywood loves them; horizontal stripes make you look fat!