Mike’s Favorite Movie Trailers of 2015

We all watch trailers. It’s unavoidable. I deliberately try not to watch trailers, yet somehow, by the end of the year, when I’m doing this article, I find myself having already seen a great deal of them. They play at least three of them before any movie you see in theaters. Youtube videos have them as ads beforehand. We see them every day.

Like movie posters, it’s hard to make a memorable trailer nowadays. One that actually gets you excited to see a movie. Most trailers regurgitate the entire plot in two and a half minutes, and you end up knowing exactly what you’re getting, with no surprises. Apparently people need comfort and familiarity. I like when trailers try to do something different and memorable. The goal of a trailer is to get you to go, “I’m ready to see this movie.” You want it to whet your appetite for the product. Not show you the product, to the point where, when certain jokes or moments happen, you don’t react as strongly because you’ve seen them three times in the trailer. The best trailers are the ones that get you to go, “I didn’t think I wanted to see that movie before, and now I do.” So I try to pick out the trailers that I feel accomplish that each year.

Here are my favorite trailers of 2015:

I preface this list by saying that I’m the only person that’s going to give you a true list of the best trailers of 2015. Meaning that anyone else who attempts to do this will do 2 of 2 things — they will put trailers that got released in 2015 for films of 2016 (Suicide Squad, Civil War, Deadpool, Batman v Superman) on their list, and they’ll put trailers that are very standardly cut trailers but for high profile films designed to get them more clicks on their website (Suicide Squad, Civil War, Deadpool, Batman v. Superman). I’d honestly ask, outside of the humor in Deadpool’s Red Band trailer, does anyone think any of those trailers are any good at all? Because I think they’re all dog shit and make the films look terrible.

That aside, I’m giving you a legitimate assessment of what I thought of the trailers of 2015 (“what I thought” being the key phrase there. So spare me how wrong you think I am. I don’t care). For the films of 2015. The trailers that actually are well-made, have a degree of fun to them, and above all else make you go, “Damn, I want to see this movie right now.”

25. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

It’s not the most original trailer. But it’s fun. It makes you excited for the film. Here’s a 60s throwback spy thriller that looks like an episode of Archer. That’s all I needed to get me excited.

24. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

It’s the right amount of weird that makes you want to see it. This is one of those movies that’s of a very specific tone, so either you get the film and the trailer or you don’t at all.

23. Carol

It’s big and melodramatic. It’s the emotional score that makes it work for me. It doesn’t give you too much of the plot (though there really isn’t that much of one anyway), and sweeps you up in the mood of the genre. It’s also under two minutes, which I respect the shit out of. Trailers are starting to creep to the three minute length now.

22. The Big Short

I actually didn’t like this trailer until I saw the film. But it’s got a nice rhythm to it, and the Zeppelin doesn’t hurt. And it’s just as frenetic as the film

21. Joy

It works because of the Scorsesean/Wall of Sound use of music. The first trailer for this was god awful. This movie plays like a David O. Russell greatest hits trailer. And sure, I’m falling for that, but I’ve made peace with that.

20. Sicario

I like that it explains almost as little as the movie does to its protagonist. It gives you a sense of the heightened insanity of the film, bringing everything to a nice fever pitch, And while it does show you a progression of the narrative of the film, it doesn’t spell that out to you as you watch it. And that’s nice.

19. The Final Girls

It’s hard to pull off a film like this. Even harder to pull off a trailer. You have a mix of story, comedy, parody, camp and heart. Again it comes down to rhythm. It sets you up for the plot (a little too much, but you almost have to), but it gives you a sense of how much fun the movie is and keeps enough tricks up its sleeve to work when you see it. Seeing this made me really excited for the film, and it made a lot of people I showed this to who had no idea what this was excited for the film.

18. Chi-Raq

It gets you from the beginning “This is an emergency” card and grabs your attention. It works better when you know this is a musical. That helps explain the dialogue rhythms. But the use of music is great, and you get a lot of Spike Lee flourishes in there. It definitely was one of those trailers that made me pay attention to it. Most of the time I’m watching a trailer with one eye and doing something else (unless I’m in a theater) because they’re all cut the same and are only gonna tell you too much anyway. So if I really pay attention, then I’ve seen half of the film and have already formulated an opinion. This was one of those times where I went, “Oh, damn, this is actually gonna be good?” It’s a nice feeling.

17. The Hateful Eight

Oh, what, Quentin wasn’t top ten? That’s right. I didn’t love this trailer. I mean yeah, the trailer is entertaining as hell. But it’s not top ten for me. I actually struggled with which trailer to even choose, because they’re so similar and don’t do a whole lot. And most of that is because the film is hard to cut a trailer for. So much of it is people in the room talking.  But the use of music, the landscapes and the ending where they just add the “Glorious 70mm” card make me enjoy this.

16. Dope

It’s just fun. This is all I want in a movie trailer. Something that promises me a good time, especially for a movie I had no idea about beforehand or would never think would be great.

15. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

It’s less than two minutes, it’s completely surreal, yet draws you in (like its subject matter). You want to see what the hell this movie is. And it turns into a spaghetti western! When you see this trailer, you have no idea what the hell you just witnessed, but you want to see it.

15. Bone Tomahawk

This is a movie trailer. Simple, violent, and builds to some scary shit in the end. And it doesn’t give you any idea of what you’re in for. (And trust me, you’re in for some shit.) It perfectly blends horror and western tropes in a single trailer. Once the screech happens, and you get that moment of Kurt Russell about to get the bone shoved down hiss throat, you’re all in on this. This is a great trailer.

14. Creed

Starts off perfectly. Him boxing, no title, no studio, nothing. Keeps all the Rocky signs in the background. Sets it up as a story about a fighter. And then the beat kicks in, and you’re like, “Okay, okay.” Trailers are about rhythm. This one has a rhythm. It sets punches to the beat. It knows what it’s doing. Then it drops the Rocky hammer in the middle, and tells you what exactly you’re dealing with, and then the music blasts. Great shit. And then the money shot of him running with all the bikes — it’s great. The Rocky line over it isn’t great, but still, this makes you excited as shit.

13. The Witch

I saw this movie more than six months before this trailer even came out. That said, I don’t need to say anything about this trailer. It speaks for itself. Tell me this isn’t perfectly cut to make this movie seem spooky as shit. You don’t know what this is, and they don’t shot you anything particularly horrific, yet you feel it every step of the way. This is a perfect trailer.

12. Room

The teaser trailer is better than the full trailer. Because it gives you all you need. The full trailer spells out the plot for you. This movie starts by making you feel safe. “Ma” singing to you. It’s this intimate, family atmosphere. And then you see what’s really going on, and you get that tension. But then, bam, kid’s out, and this emotion just hits you all at once, when you realize this kid is seeing everything for the first time. And the final line is perfect. “You’re gonna love it.” “What?” “The world.” It’s really beautifully cut.

11. Entertainment

I’m pretty sure no one is gonna mention this on a list of great trailers. This trailer. Okay — before you watch it, answer me two questions. 1) Do you know what this is? 2) Does it sound like something you want to see? Okay, now watch it.

Tell me you’re not at least interested in this.

This is perfectly cut. Because you’re like, “What the hell is this?” And it’s just so abstract, yet kinda funny, yet kinda etheral, and then you have that lounge tune blasting, and you have no idea what this is, yet you’re kinda weirdly intrigued by it. And then the music builds and builds, and then — fart noises. And then silence. It’s so well done. And I saw this after I saw the movie. And it made me respect it even more.

10. Magic Mike XXL

Ask any woman about this trailer. When this trailer dropped, this was national news. Even guys will admit this was a great fucking trailer. This has to be considered top ten for the year. Everything about it is perfect.

9. Steve Jobs

I don’t even think I can explain this one. Just watch the trailer. It just works. It’s the trailer that builds to a single moment. The pitch gets higher, the lines they choose get tenser, and there’s that moment of release just as the title card happens. Certainly made me want to see the movie.

8. The Night Before

I had no expectations for this movie until I saw this trailer. This was perfect. The “Runaway” gag at the beginning really gets you going. That’s brilliant. I mean, sure, the blessing of the great red band comedy trailer is also the curse — they give you most of the jokes in the movie. But that doesn’t prevent you from enjoying the trailer. Plus, the “The guys who almost brought you The Interview” bit is brilliant. And then somehow they make Wrecking Ball work. This trailer made me so happy when I saw it, and I did not expect that to happen at all

7. Spectre

Oh, what? Spectre isn’t #1? I know, right? I’m surprised too. I was pretty underwhelmed with the marketing for this movie. It really didn’t get any better than the initial teaser for the movie. This was the perfect set up for the film, and really the only one I needed. Gives you exactly what you need, doesn’t overdo it, and makes you ready to see the film. Still doesn’t rank top five for the year for me.

6. Black Mass

This fucking trailer. I tried to keep it low, but the more I thought about it, the more I remembered this as one of the best single trailers of 2015. It essentially cuts it around a single scene, but it’s a perfect scene to pick. Because one, that’s basically what the entire movie is, variations of this moment. And two, because it’s creepy as fuck. That’s all you need for a trailer and to get people into this movie. Johnny Depp is Whitey Bulger. He looks creepy and is unsettling to watch. And then you see what he’s doing and immediately you get freaked out for this guy’s safety. And then they show him murdering people and what he’s capable of. And that’s really all you need to see. You want to see it (this trailer made me go from, “I’m excited for this” to “This movie’s gonna be great”) and you know exactly what you’re in for.

5. The Revenant

This was impressive. The glorious mountain vistas, the use of the breathing to set a rhythm — we all saw this trailer and went, “Oh goddamn.” Because this was already one of my most anticipated for 2015, but after seeing this it was like, “Oh, and it could actually live up to that.”

4. Roar

I’m very torn about this one. Because on the one hand, this was the single best trailer I saw in 2015. But on the other hand, it’s not really for a 2015 movie. It’s for a 1981 movie they’re rereleasing. But since no one really knew about this movie and since the trailer was specifically for the rerelease, I decided to count it.

I won’t say anything else except this: if you know (or knew at the time of seeing it) nothing about this movie upon the moment of seeing this trailer, are you not immediately interested in going out to see this movie as soon as possible? Does it not (in a sick way) look like one of the most entertaining movies you’ve ever seen?

That’s what a trailer is supposed to do.

3. Straight Outta Compton

I ain’t gotta say shit about this trailer except: Fuck Yes.

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars, homie. I don’t even love Star Wars all that much and this made me feel at home. My hesitations about the final product notwithstanding, all it takes is some John Williams music, some familiar Star Wars type images, and I’m in. Tell me you didn’t get chills when that familiar theme came up with the title card. This is all we want out of a trailer. I didn’t even care about this movie, and the second I saw this trailer back in October, I bought a ticket right that second. I can’t say it’s my #1 for the year, but goddamn, was it up there.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

This has to be considered the best trailer for 2015. I had no idea what this movie was going to be. I knew it was in production for years and that it was coming out. I had no idea what to expect. None of us did. And then we saw this trailer — not the second trailer. This one. It gives you no idea of what the story is, and barrages you with strong imagery and wall to wall action. The minute the dude jumps off the rig with the two spears in slow motion, we’re all in. And then they blast the opera music, over all this operatic action. Dies Irea — it fucking works. I went from vaguely knowing this was coming out, “Oh shit yeah, I’m gonna see this movie.” And then the money shot of the giant lightning and sand tornadoes? And that somehow not even being that far into the movie. No trailer made me go from zero to all in as much as this one did. No one could have seen this movie coming back in January.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we’re gonna start talking about the movies of 2015 that were either way better or way worse than I expected them to be.

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One response

  1. Love that you included the Room teaser. I must have watched it about a hundred times when it came out, I loved the book so much and I was super hyped up for the film. Oh, and may I recommend checking out the film’s UK trailer? It’s really really good.

    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfBdUPAjiVQ)

    December 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm

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