Technically this is the kind of headline you might have expected to see in the midst of our best of the year/decade lists. But let's not get too hung up on the timing, because it's going to make perfect sense in a minute. This year at SXSW, the festival has launched the first Excellence in Title Design award, honoring the best opening title sequences in film and television over the past year (judges include Susan Bradley from Pixar and Ian Albinson and Alexander Ulloa from Art of the Title Sequence.) For those in the know, there's a grand tradition in the art of a credit sequence, but sometimes in the rush of blockbusters and big names we forget about all the work and talent that goes into even the most functional of movie arts: the opening credits.

Of course, one of the most talked about title sequences in recent memory was yU+Co's contribution to Zack Snyder's Watchmen (which will go down in history as one of my all time favorites) and it was also one that was notably absent from the list of nominees. Unfortunately, the nominees weren't selected by the good folks at SXSW, and instead, they were chosen from submissions from designers, so I guess yU+Co figured they had gotten enough press for their work on the Watchmen, and went with their contribution to the fantasy adaptation, Cirque du Freak, instead. But it looks like their work on the superhero flick had a lasting effect on other designers, because one of the other nominees, Zombieland, was subtly influenced by yU+Co's creation. Some of the other notable nominees for the grand prize include Gaspar Noe for Enter the Void and Geoff McFetridge's titles for Where the Wild Things Are -- you can see the full list of nominees on the SXSW website.

After the jump: a prediction for the winner's circle and my nominee for best title sequence of 2009...


If you're the betting sort, I'd recommend doubling down on Jason Reitman's downsizing drama, Up in The Air, because if you go by what some of the experts have to say, it's going to be the film to beat. Reitman has a history of using inventive title sequences in both of his previous films, Juno, and Thank You for Smoking, and for Air, it looks like just as much work went into creating the perfect mood. In an interview with Art of The Title Sequence, one of Air's designers, Gareth Smith, gave some insight into what it took to create the aerial intro and it's various incarnations (it gets pretty technical, so if you want to read the whole interview with Smith, you can head on over to Art).

For once, I can't really argue with any of SXSW's picks. It's like they were reading my mind with their nominations because if I was asked, these would have been my picks as well (even the TV selection was spot on). But sometimes memory can get the best of us, and I'm sure there are at least a few movies that deserve a little credit for making an entrance last year, so leave your votes for the best title sequence of 2009 in the comments below...

My nominee for the best of 2009, but you'll have to forgive the quality because WB keeps a tight leash on their property...



What were some of your favorite title sequences from 2009?
Best Credits from Watchmen - The most amazing home videos are here