Every year Jesse Garson gives out
awards to those motion pictures whose opening credits or in-film typography
most embody the spirit of art, design, creativity, and invention. Since
no other web site dares to discuss type for film we figure only Jesse really
cares about this sort of thing. No other votes were used to calculate the
winners each year. Flame Jesse about his lousy choices at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to skip to
a particular year:
1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992
1991 1990 1989 1988 1987
High profile special
effects heavy films are at an all time high this year. The front runners
are, as usual, films which already employed special effects artists and
animators in other ways, but who also took the time to make the first few
minutes of the film \into something special.
- Nick-at-Nite's hoply retro style,
complete with kitchy icons, is used to introduce the world of Pleasantville.
Despite the very different shape of the screen, these titles transform
the movie screen into a cable channel. These sequences were created by Planet Blue. The nice folks at 'Hippie Boy' created the opening titles. Much of the other title work, and hand painted signs within the movies 50's town were created by in-house staff on the films large special effects crews.
- The Matrix
- This slickly overproduced action
sci-fi romp opens with digital screen type zooming to reveal fractal-like
details composed of even smaller letters and symbols. Lynne Cartwright
of Animal Logic Film supervised the creation of this opening title sequence,
as well as the general look of the 'matrix' code throughout the film. For
this effect Animal Logic Film relyed upon a custom created alphabet which
incorporated numbers and sybols from several alphabets and cultures. Derry
Frost of Amalgamated Pixels created the tinted versions of the Warner Bros.
logo which appears at the beginning of the film.
- Fight Club
- Breakfast of Champions
This was a year of slick
design and information overload. Several films are on my mind for accolades
this year, all of them with very similar approaches:
- In cinematic tribute to the original
Style-Over-Subsatnce British TV series these titles use a trippy house
font. The letterforms are composed of a thick San-serif face which has
been clipped at an angle, overlapped by an angular semi-serif face. The
titles ooze, fade, slide, and explode across a heady background of building
stormclouds and obscurred clips from the film itself!
- Lost In Space
- In cinematic tribute to the original
Style-Over-Subsatnce American Sci-fi TV series these titles use a trippy
house font. But the true greatness of this film's typography is the relentless
appearence of new and different fonts and layouts on every screen and surface
in the movie's world. The entire film comes across like two hours of MTV's
AMP or the back of a RAVE flyer.
- James Bond
- Starship Troopers
The stunningly understated
opening titles for this film set the
stage for a slick and stylish film.
The theme of the movie is genetic
science, and this is brought home by
highlighting every G,C,T, and A in every
word throughout the opening titles.
These letters are also in a bolder semi-serif
- Runner up:
With a slick and spooky look to match
the rest of the film, this opening credit sequence uses nice focus and
reflection effects. Somewhat evocative of Se7en's opening credits.
- Mars Attacks
Tim Burton employs animated titles which
curve around sci-fi planet elements and flying saucers for this film, with
visuals and titles all tightly linked to Danny Elfman's lively yet ominous
soundtrack. Tim is really just brushing up old territory for him though,
he used the same style of opening credits in Ed Wood
- Cable Guy
The credits are set in front of an extreme
close-up of a TV set changing channels. Some of the san-serif titles have
static and colour flare on them as if they are part of the TV picture.
Trek: First Contact
Cool Photoshop filters and decayed text,
plus the groovy use of a number imbedded as a letter in the title!
- Toy Story
Complete toy packaging design and inventive
logo creation dominate many scenes in this wonderful movie. Books on shelves
and plant markers also contain myriad in jokes and name-dropping.
'O' in Apollo is burning booster collar from second
stage of atlas rocket leaving earth's orbit.
- Ed Wood
Tim Burton uses all the trappings
of a bad sci-fi opening title sequence to package this sci-fi/documentary.
- Reality Bites
Great parodies of MTV's unrelenting
typographic oddness throughout this otherwise lackluster film.
- Hudsucker Proxy
Leon (The Professional)
The Euro-release of this film had a set of crosshairs in the 'o' of Leon.
Behind the crosshairs our hero's silouhette could be seen. Very slick logo!
- Much Ado About Nothing
Nice visual translation of
language as Emma Thomson reads us a poem to open the movie. The font, although
anachonistic, nicely introduces us into the evocative textual world of
- Sleepless In Seattle
A pull down map and elegant
type bumper the whole film as we travel from Seattle to New York and back
in this popular romance.
- Son of Pink Panther
A 3-D animated tribute to the origional great Pink Panther opening credit
One of the all-time great
opening credit sequences! Each credit appears as real anagram of the name
or title, and then 'unscrambles' as if decrypted. Some of the anagrams
are very funny! (This sequence also prepares us for similar crytography
within the film.)
- Lethal Wepon 3
Watch fire as it slowly burns
out a trail that forms a flaming '3'. Over this traditional titles are
placed. The sequence is set to action movie music with ominous flare.
- Batman Returns
Bats fly right through the uncurling title. Nice CG.
All of the titles are physical
objects arranged around a table covered in odd knick-knacks. To add to
the creativity of this unique approach- each credit is part of an object
that represents the credit. For instance: 'Costumes' is stiched onto a
scrap of fabric.
- Point Break
Cool font where the 'a's
have no cross, making them look like upside-down 'v's.
- Barton Fink
- Total Recall
The text itself is set in
a 'machine'-like font, but the real fun of this credit crawl is that all
the credits have a vertical flare of orange light which interferes with
the other titles as they slide up the screen. It must be seen to be appriciated!
- Edward Scissorhands
Nice gothic type with snow
falling and animated paper snowflakes and gingerbread men, etc.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Disney called upon their
traditional animators as well as computer artists to create this freeform
romp where cartoon children and 3-D type interact.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Typesetters and graphic artists
recreate an entire diary with marvelous scetches of ancient art , illuminated
manuscripts, and architecture.
- Wizard of Speed and Time
There are more ideas for
movie credit design in this movie than I can describe! The inventive director/actor/animator
for this film shows some really cool movie opticals throughtout- as well
as many subliminal messages woven into the details of many scenes.
- She's Having a Baby
Nice addition of evocative
icons above the main title.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Screen readouts, forms, logos,
and animated news graphics were all created for this film with an inventive
eye and considerable talent.
- The Princess Bride
Not much here really, but
it was a lean year for typographic design in the movies ;)