Mike’s Favorite Movie Trailers of the Decade (60-51)
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:
This is the trailer that actually made me think the movie could be good, as opposed to dismissing it off-hand as I do most studio horror movies. Because most of them are worth dismissing. But this one — they show you what the film has, which is that emotional hook and the coming-of-age aspect of the story, rather than just the horror. It’s still a horror movie, and it’s clear, but there’s just something about this one that lets you know it’s gonna be pretty good. They keep Pennywise out of it, mercifully. The brief moment in the sewer, the great moment with the slides and then “you’ll float too”. It’s a really effective trailer. And that’s coming from someone who needs a lot to be interested in anything horror-related.
59. Guardians of the Galaxy
This is one that might not hold up without context, but for me — back in 2014, I really couldn’t give a shit about Marvel. The movie were fine, some of them were amusing, but mostly those were the Downey ones. So this trailer comes out and you think — oh wow, this actually has its own personality and set of humor. And it takes place far away from everything else so it’s not totally related like the rest of them. It actually made me excited to see it. And that, at the time, was huge for Marvel. And even now, their trailers aren’t great. Because they’re not just selling movies, they’re selling a franchise. But this was a big movie for them in a lot of ways, and the trailer shows that.
An incredible trailer. It’s basically the film, too. This is how the film progresses. The interviews, the dancing, then the madness. But it’s also selling you on the crazy descent into hell that Gaspar Noe is gonna take you on. The spinning pull quotes are great to set you up, and the slow play into that moment when the music explodes and it’s just a montage of dancing and insanity. It’s so good.
This also might seem old hat to a lot of people, but this was huge at the time. And sure, they overplayed this to the point of everyone knowing some of the jokes before they happened on screen, but even so — no one had ever seen something like this before. A studio superhero movie that was rated-r and raunchy. And the trailer plays that up, starting like some standard superhero movie, and then letting its freak flag fly. It was so exciting to see something with straight up humor and not giving a shit about an R rating. Also, DMX in a trailer is always a good choice.
56. 10 Cloverfield Lane
J.J. Abrams has always been great at exciting teaser trailers out of nowhere (only to disappoint with the actual movie, but I digress). That original Cloverfield trailer was a huge deal a decade ago. This — this was hidden as a Cloverfield film until this trailer dropped. But even apart from that, it’s an insanely well-cut trailer. Using “I Think We’re Alone Now” to build normalcy and then slowing it down to show that maybe something’s not right here. First it’s evil John Goodman and then it’s, “No, wait, don’t go outside!” And they do a fantastic job of not showing you what (if anything) is out there (which is what the movie should have done, but I digress). It’s hard to get a teaser trailer more effective than this.
55. American Animals
This one’s all about the editing and the pacing. I had no idea what this movie was and saw this trailer and thought, “That’s an insanely well-cut trailer.” Sometimes a trailer is cut well above the budget level of the movie. This is the kind of trailer that makes you realize the movie has a floor on quality. It’s too good for the movie to not be good. It’s perfectly cut in terms of splicing in the music, showing footage without giving everything away, and maintaining a tone that’s both fun but serious.
I got chill when I saw this for the first time. This is such a great trailer. Because you don’t need anything more than this. The Camelot pull was a great touch, too. But you just need the footage of Natalie as Jackie and then the assassination to perfectly set up what the film is gonna be. It’s a perfect entity. It really is.
53. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
We’re gonna go on a run of Star Wars now. Just because I do think, while you can say whatever you want about the films, they always cut great trailers. So we’re just gonna shout them all out in a row. Feels easier to do it that way. We’re gonna go in reverse order, since I think the excitement level for each entry probably goes in this order. But still, this is also probably how I view the trailers myself anyway.
They do a great job of giving you footage while not giving away the context of any of it. It’s mostly just universe money shots and voiceover to vaugely explain the plot. This one has that awesome shot of the ice planet and Rey and Kylo fighting on the ship, plus that diversion of ‘one last look at my friends’, which is a sweet moment. And then they bring in the classic theme to make you realize the whole thing is coming to an end, which — isn’t it funny that this trailer is so much more emotional than the film itself is? That’s how you know it’s a good trailer.
52. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The John Williams score in this is so goddamn good. Those strings, though. Not really much to add about this one. It’s more of the same. Just a well-cut Star Wars trailer.
51. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It’s the excitement for this one that made it work so well. Even if you don’t necessarily care about Star Wars (as I don’t), it was hard to avoid the intense anticipation for this movie to come out. And I didn’t even necessarily go in for the ‘Chewie, we’re home’ stuff in the teasers. This trailer is the one that fully sold me. Again, it’s the use of that John Williams music and iconic imagery, while also setting up the characters and reminding you of what’s always worked well within this universe. As I said, say what you want about the films, but the trailers are all insanely great.
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