Steve Douglas on February 2nd, 2010

The Oscar nominations were released this morning and I thought it might be fun to not only list the contenders, but also take a look at the logos of the top ten best pictures, ranking them from one to ten (according to my humble opinion, natch). Granted, some of the movies don’t technically feature ‘logos’ (while a few are quite strong) and the overall idea a bit of a stretch, but this IS a logo design blog, and if I don’t crowbar Oscar nominations into a blog post el pronto, someone else will. So, without further ado, here’s a countdown of the top ten logos culled from the Oscars Best Picture category, such as they are..

#10: A Serious Man

Oscar movie logos: A Serious Man

Not much to write about the simple, all caps serif font treatment for A Serious Man. Not too keen on the color scheme (but it works okay when used on the marquee poster) and it’s not even a logo per se, but it is an Oscar contender nonetheless.

#9: The Blind Side

Oscar movie logos: The Blind Side

Ditto for The Blind Side. Main attraction for this flick was obviously star Sandra Bullock (who’s been nominated in the Best Actress category for the role) so her name goes front and center in the poster version. Typola de bland.

#8: An Education

Oscar movie logos: An Education

Like the previous two entries, An Education eschews a typical logo design treatment, opting for a bold sans-serif font work-up for the marketing material. The type acts as a mask for the poster photograph and usually bleeds off both sides (that’s why the ‘A’ appears to be sliced). Meh.

#7: Up In The Air

Oscar movie logos: Up In The Air

The Up In The Air movie poster logo includes the name of the main star (George Clooney, who’s been nominated as Best Actor) as well as the director’s bona fides. This simple text treatment gets a few bonus points for incorporating the title into an airport sign, telegraphing the central plot. A little more ‘logoish’ than the past few, but still, not much to write about. Meh redux.

#6: Avatar

Oscar movie logos: Avatar

James Cameron‘s 3D sci-fi blockbuster Avatar features a customized cousin of the Papyrus font face (also used in the movie’s subtitles) and was derided by graphic designers on forums, blogs and Twitter when it was first released (the Papyrus font is considered done-to-death, difficult to kern and is generally dissed as a logo font). Personally, I don’t mind the overall feel and it goes well with the environmental vibe of the movie. Besides, who’s going to argue about the logo of a movie that has made a bazillion dollars to date.

#5: Inglorious Basterds

Oscar movie logos: Inglorious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino‘s revisionist history war thriller Inglorious Basterds features a ‘real’ logo that is simple, graphic and to the point. The replacement of the letter ‘O’ by the Nazi Swastika and Eagle emblem tells us the movie deals with those bastard (whoops, basterd) Nazis in WWII. The rough-hewn, stressed treatment of the font has a nice military vibe, while the red and black color scheme tells us once again that the movie’s about Nazis. And did I mention they’re basterds?

#4: The Hurt Locker

Oscar Movie Logos: The Hurt Locker

Not really being fair here. The Hurt Locker logo à la carte is only a simple text treatment (albeit with creative spacing and sizing) but most usages I’ve managed to find see it included in the photo-montage we’ve posted here. Very nice. I’m also a little biased towards this one, as The Hurt Locker was one of my fave flicks of last year. Further, director Kathryn Bigelow (who took home a Director’s Guild of America award last weekend and has also been Oscar nominated for Best Director) was behind the camera of one of my all-time favorite flicks, Near Dark, arguably the best vampire film of all time.

#3: District 9

Oscar movie logos: District 9

Was really glad to see District 9 get an Oscar nomination as the film is a truly original look at the ‘alien invasion’ meme, and tackles the subject with a unique approach that is part documentary, part classic ‘blow-em-up’ sci-fi thriller. I loved the District 9 logo, as well as the graphics that are incorporated throughout the flick (the ‘no humans’ sign above is one example). The art direction on the movie is stellar – many of you will recognize some of the alien weaponry and gizmos from the Halo video game. No surprise there – District 9 was originally penned as a big-screen Halo adaption before morphing into the version that hit theaters last summer. In terms of the stencil style of the typography, it suits the theme of the movie perfectly.

#2: Up

Oscar movie logos: Up

When you’ve got Pixar and Disney working on an full-length feature film, you’re pretty well assured that a strong logo design will be part of the movie marketing (think Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monster Inc, et al). The Oscar nomination Up is no exception, featuring a brilliant logo in terms of concept and execution. Boasting a distorted typeface (as it would be seen from below) and a pictographic treatment of Carl Fredricksen‘s house, this design tells us in a nutshell, what the story is about. Some might argue that the balloon strings make the logo too complicated for small use, but there’s another version, sans house, that was also developed.

#1: Precious

Oscar movie logos: Precious

Precious, a story about an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child but is invited to enroll in an alternative school to help “steer her life in a new direction” (okay, okay – I haven’t seen the movie and cribbed the plot synopsis from Wiki) could well be described as the ‘sleeper’ of the best picture nominations. There’s nothing ‘sleeper’ about the logo and it is by far the best design of all the best picture nominations. The icon is a beautiful example of graphic story telling, effective use of negative space and simple shapes to create a classic, and wonderful, piece of iconic artwork. Is is technically a logo? Some might disagree, but I’d say yes. The design was considered strong enough as an image to be used solo on the movie poster, from which I grabbed the version shown.

And there you have it. The logos from the 10 Best Picture Oscar nominations, ranked and dissected (as Rod Serling would say) for your consideration. You’re welcome to leave your thoughts in the comment section. My Oscar predictions? It would be extremely hard for the Academy to avoid shelling out to Avatar, but I think The Hurt Locker may have a long shot.

 

 

 

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3 Comments to “Oscar best picture nominations and their logos”

  1. Sneh Roy says:

    I really like “Up In The Air” and “Inglourious Basterds”. District 9 is very appropriate too. For how good a movie Avatar is, I wish it had a stronger “logo” presence.

    • Steve Douglas says:

      Hey Sneh. Thanks for taking the time to comment. While I’m not as opposed to it as many designers are, I agree that the Avatar logo is a little on the weak side. Odd, considering it’s been ported to a lot of platforms (games, etc) and was presumably worked up with branding in mind. Speaking of which, I’m playing hooky this afternoon to catch Avatar for a second viewing, only this time in IMAX 3D. Amazingly, and after all this time, most of the shows are STILL sold out, and was only able to get tix for a 3:00 matinee.

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