Earl’s Top 10 Title Sequences of 2014

As some of you might know, I love title sequences. It’s an addiction I live with every day. So of course, I surround myself with title sequences and judge them on quality, entertainment, and pizzazz. That last part gets double points. Anyways, I figured I’d make an extra arbitrary list, inspired by the ones that have popped up online, especially from The Art of the Title. So without further ado, in no particular order, my favourite top 10 title sequences of the past year, and a short write-up for each of my choices.

 

22 Jump Street
Created by Alma Mater


Who knew 21 Jump Street was going to be the hit that it became? On top of that, who knew 22 Jump Street would be the sequel hit that it became? I enjoyed the first film’s end credits: witty, glossy, and totally in line with the rest of the film. The sequel toys with then rips apart the tropes and cliches of sequels and movie franchises, so what better way to end it than with an extravagant display of where this series goes to the Nth degree. Of course, now there’s talk of a Men in Black / Jump Street crossover (as we discussed on a recent AKOP episode…), so who knows what that potential third film’s end credits will look like.

 

Alien: Isolation
Created by Creative Assembly


I’ve actually never seen Alien (though that may change soon enough…) That being said, I’ve seen its iconic intro credits, and they still hold up over time. This title is a nice tribute to its origins, building on its design, but also highlighting the very nature of its use of a visual artifact. What really clinches it for me is the wavering screen displaying the word ALIEN – despite the recreation, you immediately feel a sense of age, not just of the original film, but of the history being referred to in the video game. Subtle and almost imperceptible, quite similar to the titular creatures.

 

Black Sails
Created by Imaginary Forces


I’ve read an interview on how this title sequence was created, and I’m still not sure whether I prefer it as is, or if they created this incredible work of art in real life. Regardless, the final version would look largely the same – beautiful macro photography in stark contrast of ivory and dark pools of water. The details in this ship is astounding and keep me hooked on to watching this montage of scenery. And finally, there’s that music, good god that music. That’s called a hurdy gurdy, and ho boy does it ever.

 

Godzilla
Created by Prologue


Regardless of where people stand on this latest reboot of Godzilla, they have to appreciate the opening credits that lead into the movie. Here is a sequence that collages top-secret documents, wartime orientation films, and educational videos to form a visual primer on this alternate history of the atom bomb and the giant monster. The blacking out of text alludes to how, despite the information presented on screen, we are being withheld much more than these 2 minutes show… but may come into the light in the film proper. Ultimately, it builds expectation and foreboding as to what might happen later, even if we may not like the wait.

 

Halt and Catch Fire
Created by Elastic


A lot of my picks are infinitely rewatchable title sequences for shows that may not necessarily reach those same heights. This is a perfect example of my enjoyment of an intro being so high that it actually makes me put up with the rest of the show. But let’s overlook the series’ quality – this is a brilliantly-executed sequence with fascinating visual details, degrading its shows’ stars into something like ghosts in the machine. Also there’s subtext of insemination birthing an idea? Read into it as hard as you like.

 

Manhattan
Created by Imaginary Forces


Unlike the previous title, I haven’t seen Manhattan but have heard some great reviews. But really, it’s these main titles that pushed me over the edge to consider watching it (there’s just a few things higher on my queue, but I’ll get to this!) This juxtaposition of American domestic life with the invention of the atom bomb in sketches, diagrams, and illustration is a great idea that snaps into place in that final shot of people drawn into a crowd, forming the shape of an atom. The image is simultaneously eerie, awe-inspiring, and mysterious, akin to perhaps the first look of the nuclear explosions.

 

Saturday Night Live (Season 40)
Created by Pentagram


I don’t really watch Saturday Night Live well, live, and only casually follow the latest viral video from their sketches in the following weeks, but I’ve always been fascinated by their art direction and design. For their 40th anniversary, they went for a throwback look, harking the early days of the show. The result is a visually eye-catching typographic overlay, mimicking the static and fuzz of old TV and neon. Words and letters even jump around and blink out. As usual, their cinematography is on-point, for what it needs to be, but the sequence is enlivened by such a strong focus on vision.

 

Silicon Valley
Created by yU+co.


There’s so much to unpack from this opening when it appears on screen – funny, given how little time it takes to unspool. TV intro sequences tend to be pretty fleeting, but this one manages to be short but tantalizing, with its blink-or-you’ll-miss-it graphics. Stylized like a SimCity game or an isometric infographic time-lapse, the sequence treats us with a rough history of the dot-com industry, from the fallen companies of yesteryear, to the monoliths, to the upstarts of the present day, including the fictional companies on the show. The animations also hint at the goofy, understated humour, and also how fast those 25 minutes fly by when watching an episode.

 

Too Many Cooks
Created by Casper Kelly for Adult Swim


I’m really bending the criteria for title sequence with this one, but how could I not add this to the list? Self-reflexive parody that bounces between cheeseball, nostalgia, horror, stoner humour, and Lynchian nightmare, it might just be the greatest love letter to 80’s sitcom intros. It’s from someone who clearly understands the tropes of said intros, and finds ways to invert, deconstruct, or outright mock them, and once you get bored of it, it escalates to another level, keeping you on your toes. That makes this sound too intellectual so I should add that the whole 12 minutes are a goddamn riot to watch too.

 

True Detective
Created by Elastic


One of the first title sequences of the year, and still maintains its allure, which should say something about how good it is. Whether it’s the music, the layering effect, or the gorgeous cinematography, there’s something that will capture the eye in almost every shot here. As a friend pointed out, there’s multitudes of copycats of this style since the show ended, helping to confirm how incredible this work is. It’s likely to be replaced by another intro for the second season, so here’s hoping they come up with something as good, if not better. Because boy, that benchmark has certainly been set with this one.

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