Dogma (1999) special edition:
Okay, I just don't get this faux oil painting look. It just looks cheap. I understand the commercial need to cram all the stars on the cover, but this was achieved in the non-special edition with actual photos. The rendering of Linda Fiorentino makes her look like she had fetal alcohol syndrome, and that weird creature in the top center? That's supposed to be Alanis Morrissette. Yuck.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The special edition of this film has an aesthetically pleasing cover. It looks like this:
I can just imagine the creation of this image: Designer: The DVD cover's all done, boss.
Boss: What?! But you forgot to put Laurence Harvey on there. He's the MAIN character.
Designer: Oh shit!
Boss: Here's what you do. Just get a HUGE picture of Laurence Harvey and slap him in the front, over everything, with a GUN. Cuz he's the MAIN character. Oh, and mute those colors, will you?
All About My Mother (1999)
The American version of the DVD is nice enough:
The Spanish version, however, uses essentially the same image but a very different rendering:
Ew! There are toddlers than could produce better drawings than that. This is not a picture suitable for an Oscar-winning Spanish melodrama. And the eyes are different sizes! Make it go away!
There Will Be Blood (2007):
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the design here. It’s rather nice and suits the film. But doesn’t Daniel Day-Lewis look a little…funny to you? He looks like he’s made out of wax. While this could serve as a metaphor for the lack of humanity in his character (doubtful), it just comes across as shoddy design.
Silk Stockings (1957):Who let the caricature artist off the boardwalk?! Cyd doesn't look too bad (aside from being a bobblehead), but Fred looks like some alien with a killer chin. Not cool.
No Country for Old Men (2007):
The problem here is that the cover makes this Best Picture winner look like a shitty movie. From the years I worked at a video store, I can tell you with authority that this design adheres strictly the Straight-To-Video Shitty Movie look: floating heads of actors on top, title in the middle, action-packed image on the bottom. Think about it. If it wasn’t for the star power, the Coen name and Newsweek’s enthusiastic praise, this could easily be an image from Jean-Claude Van Damme Fights People and Blows Things Up #3761. Furthermore, why don’t the names match the floating heads? I know this is common practice, but that’s typically when they’re trying to alphabetize. The names here aren't alphabetical, and it’s even more confusing because one name matches the face. And while I’m at it, what’s with the god-awful poster for this movie?
What’s a surefire way to make Javier Bardem look even scarier? Blur out the bottom half of his face and give him Josh Brolin for a mouth. No Country, you’re an amazing movie, but on this front, you fail epically.
Remember The Apartment, that terrible romantic comedy with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey that millions of squealing girls dragged their annoyed boyfriends to? No you don’t, because The Apartment is a bittersweet Billy Wilder gem with a stellar cast that won the Best Picture Oscar in 1960. But from this image, you’d think it was the former. The major plot elements are painstakingly laid out for morons – you see, there’s this big KEYHOLE, to symbolize the APARTMENT. Shirley MacLaine is flanked by two potential suitors, and she’s SHRUGGING, because she DOESN’T KNOW WHICH ONE SHE’LL END UP WITH! This is just insulting.
If this post has hurt your eyes and your sensibility, I recommend cleansing your palate by browsing the DVDs of the Criterion Collection. Each and every one of their covers is a miniature piece of art that skillfully communicates the theme of the film inside.
For a good read on the tangentially related subject of the differences in poster and DVD art for the same film, check out this post at More Than Fine.