Mike’s Favorite Movie Trailers of the Decade (100-91)
While I call movie posters a lost art, trailers are a different beast altogether. They’ve definitely evolved over the years, and in a way, they’re getting better the more time goes on. Trailers 40 years ago were so much different than they are now. The way people sell a film is different now. Posters are just about imagery, but trailers have to show you what you’re in store for without giving away everything. Though, there is some artistry to that as well, since I think we can all agree that a lot of times, you can understand what the entire plot of a movie is gonna be just from a trailer. But once in a while, you get something really nice, where it’s cut real well and it makes you excited for the film without giving too many secrets away.
I track my favorite trailers each year, so now I’m gonna look back over the past decade and see which ones have held up best for me.
Here are my favorite film trailers of the past decade:
We’re going to begin with one Honorable Mention, because it is one of my favorite trailers from this past decade and is one I’ve gone back to and shown to a lot of people, but technically isn’t a film that came out this decade (it’s a rerelease of a film that not many people know about). So, we’re gonna shout it out, but it felt wrong to include it on the actual ‘proper’ list:
I didn’t even know this film existed before they put out this trailer and started advertising it. And man, it is nuts. The trailer tells you everything you need to know about this movie and, I would imagine (since there’s never not been a reaction to someone I’ve shown this to) that most people who see this will go “oh my god” in one way or another.
If you think the trailer is nuts, the film is so much more than that. They shot a film around UNTRAINED LIONS. And the trailer, rightly so, shows you the inherent dangers of that choice, along with detailing all the insane injuries the cast suffered during the making of it (they don’t even mention that the DP got scalped!). The quote pulls are just perfect, as is the grindhouse style title card with voiceover that keeps repeating. It’s just an amazing trailer and perfectly sells you on the insane experience you’re gonna have while watching this film.
And since I can’t really put this film on any of these lists, let me say that going to see this at a theater is one of the top five best in-theater experiences I had this entire decade.
I like that the trailer sells you on the fairy tale aspect of the story, which I often forget about. Because it is kind of a fairy tale. Sheltered girl who only knows one kind of life goes on an adventure, fights a monster. But it’s also an action movie, so they give you all the action beats as well. It’s kind of a standard-cut trailer, but the Chemical Brothers music is nice, and sells you on this weird little movie that never quite found its place in the world. I like it.
This is just fun. Gives you a sense of tone, visuals, character, gives you some good needle drops. Just an all-around good trailer.
God, I love this trailer. It sells you on the weird humor of the film, but doesn’t even bother to try to give you a plot (not that there really is one). The film is sort of an existential meditation, and the trailer somehow tells you that. The ‘WHY’s and “Ave Maria” work perfectly together, and that crescendo of the lounge tune — it’s just intriguing. At the very least, you’re interested in what this movie is. The trailer arguably is better than the film, in that way. It’s really a well-cut trailer.
97. The Girl with All the Gifts
A different kind of zombie movie, and this one really gives you an idea of what you’re in for and how it’s not the usual fare for this kind of thing. This isn’t 28 Days Later. I love how it slow plays the zombie aspect in favor of making you feel for the girl, and then builds out the rest of the story. But even as they give you broad strokes of plot, they’re still selling you on tone and character, and it’s really well done. It’s got classic trailer rhythms, but there’s some really good stuff there.
96. Hardcore Henry
They’re selling you on the POV aspect, first and foremost. And sure, they spend a lot of time selling story at first (which I guess is smart, since they don’t want to just sell the gimmick). But it’s also that sense of fun that they’re selling too, and madcap action. The ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ drop (albeit overused) does work well and underscores the idea that you’re going on this crazy ride. It sells the film you’re getting. Whether that works for you or not is a matter of opinion, but as a trailer, it accomplishes exactly what it needs to.
95. The Ghost Writer
You need a good trailer to properly sell a mystery. They have to set up the story, which they do, but not too heavily. They give you the plot without spilling all of its secrets. They let out a little more and a little more, making you more intrigued, using a good score choice and cutting footage together really well to make you intrigued as to what’s actually going on here. It’s a really smart trailer, especially if you’ve seen the film already.
94. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
This is so hipster bait, but I don’t care. It’s just so unique and different and you just want to know what the hell this is. The western-style music (since this is a vampire western, after all) and great visuals — it stands out. That’s what this does. And sometimes you’re a great trailer just by carving out a space where, when people see it, they remember it. We see so many trailers over the course of a decade that it’s rare for one to come back across where you go, “Oh, yeah, I remember this one.” And usually that’s because either it’s really well done or really unique. This is the latter.
93. Dave Made a Maze
Very indie, sure, and probably something that resonates more with me than most, but still, I love this trailer. The fact that they sell the DIY-ness of the film, and the glory that is the maze itself is just wonderful to behold. I was sold on the concept itself, but the trailer had a lot to do with just how excited I was for it.
92. The Little Hours
One subsection of trailers on this list are just the ones that are funny because they’re filthy. This one is a whole separate level, starting with the quiet guitar music and seeming like some simply family film, and then the nuns start cursing and you immediately get what kind of movie this is. They’re selling you on foul-mouthed nuns and raunchy humor. It’s funny. Oftentimes these trailers are funnier than the films themselves, but I’m not here to judge the films. It’s a really well-cut trailer, and the ‘bling bling, bitch’ needle drop is amazing.
91. A Bigger Splash
If there’s one thing I can say about this trailer, it’s the song choice. AMAZING song choice to sell this one. That supercedes everything about the plot and all they’re selling it on. Sometimes the song choice is what makes a trailer great. I can’t get enough of this trailer.
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