Oscar-awarded Movie Fonts 2013

The 2013 Academy Awards:
the typefaces used on the posters of the Oscar-winning films


Oscar-awarded movie fonts 2013

Actors, directors and various movie technicians were awarded the golden statuette at the 85th Academy Awards Ceremony held on 24 February 2013. Even though the movie posters with their prominent titling are an essential element of the prize-winning films, they attract far less attention. Of course, it is frequently the case that a specially adapted font is employed but, even so, there are many typefaces in the Linotype library that are almost identical with these. We’ve been looking at the typographic aspects of the posters of this year’s Academy Award-winning films and you can read the results of our investigation below.

Life of Pi

After the ship he is on is wrecked, young Pi finds himself sharing the only lifeboat with a tiger. The pair spends several months together on the ocean until they are finally saved. Awarded four Oscars, including the Best Director Award, Life of Pi was thus the big winner at this year’s Oscars ceremony.
The font used for the film title is very similar to Futura® by Paul Renner, although the ‘P’ and the ‘L’ have been slightly modified. Renner’s typeface is perhaps the most widely known of the artificial Grotesques designed during the Bauhaus era. Despite its conceptual simplicity, there is an inner energy inherent to Futura which has made this typeface a favourite of designers for decades.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Futura®


Lincoln

This historical epic tells of the last months in the life of President Lincoln, focussing on his efforts to achieve emancipation for the slaves in the US. Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role won the Best Actor award.
The discreetly structured uppercase letters used to set the film title are very closely related to Weiss® Roman by Emil Rudolf Weiß. Particularly distinctive features are the marked ascenders and the abrupt line terminals in the capitals. It is not just the structuring of the letters that provides them with an historical feel; their creative inspiration can be found in the Italian Renaissance, fittingly reproducing the typographic preferences at the time Lincoln was alive.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Weiss® Roman


Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty dramatises the search for Osama Bin Laden and his execution by a US military special operations unit in the form of an action thriller. The film won the Oscar for Best Sound Editing.
The closely packed letters of the film title on the poster are reminiscent of those of Neue Helvetica® Black Extended. This font, originally designed by Max Miedinger, has been repeatedly revised and extended by the Linotype Design Studio. Its neutral, clear and readily legible characters are at their best when used to create logos, not unlike the script on the movie poster. The Black Extended variant employed for the poster typography exudes a compelling and uncompromising tone that corresponds well with that of the film.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Neue Helvetica® 93 Black Extended


Curfew

The Oscar for Best Live Action Short went to Curfew. Richie is about to commit suicide when he is unexpectedly phoned by his sister and asked to take care of his niece Sophia for an evening. The film shows how the two, after initial difficulties, eventually become friends and the little girl teaches Richie about the joys of life.
The typeface used on the Curfew poster is similar to Helvetica – in this case, in the Bold variant, although the corners have been slightly rounded. In contrast with the title on the poster for Zero Dark Thirty, it is not the logo-like quality that plays the main role here, but rather the neutral character of the lettering. The Curfew poster typography is thus non-judgmental, holding itself aloof from the action within the film.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Neue Helvetica®


Django Unchained

This movie centring on the gory revenge that ex-slave Django takes on a white plantation owner and his household won two Oscars, including that for Best Original Screenplay. On the poster, the names of the starring actors are set using a font resembling Rockwell® Extra Bold. The prominent serifs determine the effect of this slab serif created by Monotype Design Studio. On the poster, they function as the perfect modern interpretation of a typical ‘Western’ typeface.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Rockwell® Extra Bold


Searching for Sugar Man

Awarded the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and filmed partly on Super 8 and partly using an iPhone, this film tells the true story of the search by two South African fans for almost legendary singer-songwriter Sixto Díaz Rodríguez, who remains completely unknown in his native USA.
The title on the film poster uses a typeface that is nearly identical to Clarendon® by Hermann Eidenbenz. Many details ensure that this distinctive slab serif has a highly individual appearance. A good example is the curlicue on the foot of the uppercase ‘R’ which also adds a touch of the 70s to the poster, the decade in which Rodríguez had his greatest success in South Africa.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Clarendon® LT


Silver Linings

For her role as Tiffany in the tragicomedy Silver Linings, Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for Best Actress. In the film, the bipolar Pat and Tiffany, depressed after the death of her husband, develop a relationship with the help of a dance class, and silver linings appear in both their lives.
Used for the film title on the poster is a typeface very similar to ITC Lubalin Graph® Demi. The artificial slab serif ITC Lubalin by Herb Lubalin not only embodies stability, but also emanates a very special kind of amiability.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

ITC Lubalin Graph® Demi


Les Misérables

The movie version of the musical of the same name is set in revolutionary France in the 19th century. Although Jean Valjean has served his prison sentence, he is still dogged by police inspector Javert and forced to assume a new identity. Valjean’s life undergoes a transformation when he undertakes to look after Cosette, the daughter of the worker Fantine.
The film title is set is in a typeface that corresponds to Caslon™ Antique, although the letters have been slightly modified. Caslon Antique by International TypeFounders is a reinterpretation of the original Baroque Antiqua Caslon (which dates back to the 18th century) and is characterised by its uneven outline. This gives the font an historical feel while, at the same time, the irregularity also provides it with a certain spontaneity.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Caslon™ Antique Roman


Amour

Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Amour describes how life suddenly changes for the retired couple of music professors, Anne and Georges, when Anne suffers a stroke.
The font of the poster title, set in uppercase, resembles Times New Roman® by Stanley Morison. This readily legible typeface was originally developed for setting newspaper text but has enjoyed wide popularity for many decades thanks to its almost unlimited versatility.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Times New Roman®


Anna Karenina

Many of the scenes in this film look as if they were taking place on stage. We are introduced to the lives of three families in crisis. In the forefront is the fate of Anna Karenina, whose existence collapses as a result of the failure of her marriage.
Although the font used to set the film title on the poster has been extensively modified, it is still recognisably related to the elegant Goudy™ Old Style by Frederic W. Goudy, which is based on an original Renaissance typeface. The generous curlicues on the ‘A’, the ‘K’ and the ‘R’ in the title on the poster are part of the individual makeover given to the font by the poster designers.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Goudy™


Argo

Argo won this year’s award for Best Picture in addition to two further Oscars. This thriller is based on a real-life ruse used by the CIA in 1979. Under cover of a phoney film shoot, six members of the staff of the US embassy in Tehran who escaped when it was stormed by militants are smuggled out of the country.
Die mit Struktur versehenen und in ein Bild integrierten Buchstaben des Titels ähneln der Akzidenz Grotesk® Extended Bold Italic. This typeface, designed by Günter Gerhard Lange on the basis of outlines prepared by H. Berthold, is seen as a highlight in the history of typography as its neutral, clearly legible and well-defined letters have influenced numerous other fonts.
Please click on the image to see the typeface in more detail.

Akzidenz-Grotesk® Extended Bold Italic

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