Why bother with a long title for a film? Short titles are direct, punchy, and straight to the point (even if they are admittedly a little difficult to Google). Something snappy and succinct can stick in your mind without a doubt, and if a film can communicate what it’s about with very few words, all the better.
But some titles go above and beyond just being short by normal standards. Far be it to have one or two normal-sized words, the shortest titles sometimes contain just one or two letters. The following ten titles best exemplify that, and are among the best movies out there with the tiniest of tiny titles.
No is a historical/political drama focusing on a plebiscite in Chile in the late 1980s, where the country’s citizens were asked to vote on whether Chile’s then-dictator should stay in power for another eight years. The film focuses on the “No” side’s attempts to persuade their fellow citizens to vote no through advertising, hence the title.
It’s an engaging and uniquely presented movie about an interesting political story that those who aren’t from Chile may not know about. The film does a solid job at making the situation understandable for non-Chileans, and it’s all anchored by a strong performance from Gael García Bernalwhose name is eight times longer than the title of the film he stars in here.
The first film from the famous director Darren Aronofsky – best-known for traumatizing viewers with hard-hitting dramas and horror films – Pi is a psychological thriller about a mathematician who believes he’s found a secret to understanding life, the universe, and existence within a mathematical formula.
While Pi itself is already a remarkably short title, it’s stylized on some posters as the symbol for pi: π. This means that if you consider π to be the film’s genuine title, it means the title is only a single character long (which is reminiscent of how Prince wanted to be known by a single symbol in the 1990s, which ensured that if you wanted to speak about him, you had to say The Artist Formerly Known as Prince).
Thanks to its second part released in 2019, 2017’s It might be more logically called It: Chapter One nowadays, but when it was first released, it was just It. One movie with a simple title – two letters – that referred to the demonic presence that’s the film’s main antagonist (AKA Pennywise).
It hints at the mystery, terrifying, and otherworldly nature of the film’s main monster, and expertly summarizes the horror of such a foe. It’s a testament to It’s engaging story (and memorable scares) that such a simple, commonly used word is now tied to fiction’s creepiest clown.
Up is the shortest title for any Pixar movie so far. It of course relates to the way balloons are used by the film’s protagonist to uproot and transport his house to South America on a unique adventure, but might also hint at how the film is ultimately very uplifting (at least after the famously sad opening montage).
It’s a heartwarming and memorable story, notable for featuring a far older protagonist (and antagonist) than we’re used to seeing in animated films. Still, it’s a charmingly straightforward film, much like its title, and can be enjoyed by viewers young and old as a result.
A political thriller about the investigation carried out after the suspicious death of a political activist in Greece, Z is a deliberately-paced and unnerving film with a deceivingly short title. Despite said title only having one letter, it’s a very complex film with numerous characters to follow throughout.
The letter Z, in the Greek language, translates to “he is alive,” perhaps referring to how the story of this activist’s death lives on in people’s memories, and the film itself. In this way, the letter is more of a symbol and has a greater meaning outside the English language, but that doesn’t stop the title from being incredibly short, and the title itself wasn’t translated to anything longer for English-speaking audiences. , either.
X is a horror film about a group of (mostly) young people who rent a cabin from a mysterious elderly couple, using the location to shoot an adult movie. The couple does not react well to this when they eventually find out, leading to plenty of horrific mayhem, violence, and – in true horror movie fashion – a large body count.
X of course refers to the adult movie being made by the film’s cast of characters, given those sorts of movies are given “X ratings.” It also might be a way to foreshadow all the death present in the film’s second half, as “X” is arguably one of the more ominous letters in the alphabet, given how it looks a bit like a half-formed skull and crossbones symbol.
Q is a strange movie, and admittedly, has a longer title that’s sometimes used: “Q – The Winged Serpent”. That longer title is a little clunky, but does give far more information about the movie than just “Q,” as it’s a monster movie about a giant, flying, lizard-like creature that terrorizes the people of New York City.
The movie gets stranger by focusing on the police, who investigate the monster (and its whole eating people thing) much like how detectives investigate regular crimes in movies. For that, it’s something of a low-budget monster/horror/crime procedural, and even if the end result isn’t perfect, it is at least memorable for its mash-up of genres and overall ambition.
German director Fritz Lang was best known for making some of the greatest silent films of all time, with M being his first film to have dialogue. It’s a police procedural about a serial killer who targets children, with the plot also involving other criminals so disgusted by the crimes that they attempt to track down the murderer as well.
M is a title that works great for the film, as it’s a mysterious and tense one, with the lack of information provided by the title creating intrigue and unease right from the get-go. It’s also referenced in a scene in the film where the serial killer is marked on his back with an “M” (for the German word “mörder,” meaning “murderer”) so others can track him easier.
Director Oliver Stone is no stranger to movies about political figures, given that in the 1990s, he made Nixonwith Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixonand JFKa movie with a similarly short title to W. about the investigation into John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
A movie being called “W.“Nowadays might cause confusion, but in 2008, when George W. Bush had been the USA’s President for eight years, that single letter and a full-stop would have clued many in on what the film was about: a biopic about the 43rd President of the United States, and the tumultuous times during which he held that title .
There’s a nice simplicity to the titles Jordan Peele‘s horror movies so far. 2017 gave us Get Out (just six letters), 2019 gave us Us (only two letters), and 2022 is giving us Nopewhich finds a nice middle ground between the two earlier films with a title made up of four letters.
Given the plot about doppelgängers and terrifying alternate versions of you who want to replace you, the short, punchy “Us” is a great title. While the title is short, the film’s ambition and lofty ideas are anything but small, and if Peele continues his winning streak of unique horror with Nope, Get Out, Usand Nope may end up forming a nice thematic trilogy.
KEEP READING: Great Horror Films With One-Word Titles To Watch If You Liked ‘Men’