Typografriday: Movie Typecasting, Gotham

I am late to the commenting-on-movie fonts game, having been beat to the punch by Yves Peter’s excellent ScreenFonts column (which analyzes contemporary movie posters) and of course Trajan is the Movie Font / Big Red Text / Hand-drawn Block Letters (youtube pieces which catalog movie poster type trends: Trajan on everything, Gill Sans Extra Bold et al in red on dumb summer comedies, handdrawn outline text for indie-quirky)

I want to take this opportunity to comment on something that according to my weak googling I may have the scoop on… I noticed it when I was flipping through the local newsweekly this week (early December) three presumably Oscar-aiming films, Invictus, A Single Man and The Lovely Bones.


You see it right? Gotham? Used in all caps in its bolder weights in 2009 it still carries strong resonances of HOPE and CHANGE and YES WE CAN. Indeed the upward flight of birds in The Lovely Bones poster and the upward looking Damon and serious looking Freeman are from not only the Obama/Hope playbook but also the rising swell of a John Williams score, the slow-mo on a triumphant smile, the whole town breaking into applause, the gleam of hope that this distillation of big hollywood production dollars into filmic pathos brings home the trophies.

A few years back, Trajan was still being used for this sort of film. But now it’s been relegated to the likes of Hellblazer and The Hills Have Eyes… to strike the right chord of gravitas and respectability in your drama, Gotham is the new go-to. I know a set of three does not exactly a trend make but take my word for it, there’ll be more. You heard it here first: Gotham is the Oscar Movie Font.

5 comments to Typografriday: Movie Typecasting, Gotham

  • Hi guys. Lovely seeing you again, of course. And while i likely agree with you on the trend, owen, as all sheep track lower cases, there is perhaps one (perhaps not so interesting piece of trivia) thing about the SINGLE MAN poster, which actually comes directly from the Fashion-Designer-as-Brand pocket of TOM FORD, who marked his label with Gotham just before Obama did, and thus, his first foray into film-making. And despite a few misses in the film, the meticulous curation of his identity, from the art direction to the film coloring, also includes the typography. Not sure what my point is, and I’m not sure if I’m defending or just also making an observation about it all, but I assume that at least on one occasion, the poster had less to do with an oscar ploy than it does one man’s obsessive aesthetic singularity. Ahem…. As you have observed, something some of us can relate to.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS from 3 feet under.

  • […] and Samantha are joined by Jessica Pettigrew and Kirsten Finkas on the blog The Experts Agree. The December 18th entry of TypograFriday focuses on a new trend in “movie typecasting”, and I wouldn’t be […]

  • […] I’ve had since Dr Bex Lewis responded to my Keep Calm post… Yves Peters cited my Gotham=Oscar Font hypothesis in his FontFeed column ScreenFonts. Which in my personal world is like getting featured […]

  • […] the reign of Trajan is over. Regular readers of The FontFeed know that I am a firm believer in the Owen Gjertsen Troy theorem™: To strike the right chord of gravitas and respectability in your drama, Gotham is the new go-to. […]

  • […] latest popular example is Gotham, which makes an appearance on many movie posters. One of the earliest popular typefaces in this genre is Gill Sans. To most Americans, this […]

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