The Oscars: Pick of the Posters

The 86th Academy Awards are upon us, and as red carpets are hoovered, speeches hastily “not prepared”, and fashion blogs primed, you’d almost forget that it’s all about good movies. Which is why I’ve decided to continue that trend and not talk about any of the movies nominated this year, or indeed any year. Instead, just as much an indicator of tastes as the films and fashion is the official Oscar ceremony poster. Past couple of years have had the host the focus, but the majority naturally put the iconic statuette front and centre, with varying degrees of success. Here’s my selection of just some of the best (and some of the very worst):

Ah, back to a simpler time. In 1960, audiences were made aware that there were “NO INTERRUPTIONS – NO COMMERCIALS!”. Oh, what a glorious time that must have been! 1963 was pretty neat too – I especially like the inclusion of a television set to remind viewers that they did not need to go to the cinema to see their “favorite movie stars”, which the advert handily lists at the bottom (though the note that they will be “on film and live” seems maybe a little cheap, no?).

Keeping it classy in the 70’s. Love the simple and stylish but unmistakably 70’s look to the 1971 poster, but the 1975 is both bold and timeless. Yeah, it’s just blurry lights, but it’s closer to the programme for a European cosmopolitan film festival than a Hollywood all-singing all-dancing awards show.

And so to the 80’s, if it wasn’t already obvious from the neon lines of 1985 on loan from Max Headroom. 1984 in particular lives up to its Orwellian expectations, with a vast “Big Brother” Oscar towering over the globe, all-seeing and all-knowing. The Academy Awards are here America, and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it!

The early 90’s, and things start to get a little, I don’t know, unnerving? Maybe it’s just me, but the above posters all look a little “horror” movie to me. Especially 1992, perhaps appropriate given that’s the ceremony The Silence of the Lambs won “the big five”. 1994 is just mad.

It’s strange that few of the posters fully exploit the Art Deco design of the statuette to its fullest. 1995 is a clear exception and very stylish it is too. But 2002’s Batman-inspired poster, nice enough as it may be, is somewhat baffling in context. Batman and Robin was 5 years prior, Batman Begins was another 3 years away, and Batman films generally aren’t Oscar bait (bar Heath Ledger’s posthumous award for The Dark Knight and maybe some technical trophies).

And finally we come to the section known as “Designer’s Day Off”. It seems like whoever came up with 1990’s offering looked long and hard into a crystal ball, then realised they had half an hour to submit the final work and whipped up this “10-year-old kid playing with Word Art” monstrosity. That said, it’s no worse than your average The Apprentice marketing task monstrosity. And at least it’s not the 2004 poster – either the design company had just discovered Clip Art for the first time and searched for a stock image of “press photographer”, or they spent time, money and effort into recreating an image better suited to a village hall newsletter advertising their Oscar party than the official promotional material for the ceremony itself. Sheesh.

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