Mike’s Favorite Movie Trailers of the Decade (50-41)

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:

50. Knives Out

Love this trailer. Those strings at the beginning really set the tone. It’s mystery, but also kinda fun. And they set up the story — murder, investigation, crazy family, great cast. And, just like the film, Daniel Craig starts in the background and then comes front and center as we get to the end. Great editing, great trailer.

49. Toy Story 3

I cried the first time I saw this trailer. All the love I had for this franchise just immediately bubbled to the surface in that first minute when they showed ‘old clips’ of Andy playing with the toys and the Randy Newman song over it. There are outside factors going into it for me, but it’s a beautiful way to remind you just what this franchise means to you, before getting into the plot of the film — Andy is old and going to college, and now he has to get rid of the toys that were his entire life fifteen years ago. It’s so touching. I don’t even care about the second half of the trailer (which is fun and gives you the same kind of great Toy Story stuff you’re used to). To me, the first half is so perfect it belongs here.

48. American Sniper

I love how simple this is. It’s one scene that encapsulates the entire film. He’s a sniper, so we watch him in the moment, with all the split second decisions he has to make, which are all life or death decisions. And then you fold in the brief glimpses of his home life and the stakes of all these decisions — it’s an incredible trailer.

47. Sing Street

This is just fun. And it boils the plot down to the important moments — kid/school, cute girl, ‘we need to start a band’. And then it’s just misfits coming together to make music, and then you get the great songs on the movie, which really elevate the whole trailer (and film). It’s just the kind of trailer that makes you happy.

46. BlacKkKlansman

Sometimes you can just tell from a trailer a movie’s gonna be great. I know that’s a reductive statement, but what I mean is — you hear the logline for this film and you go, “Okay, I guess that can work.” But then you see the trailer and you go, “I completely get this and I am 100% in.” That’s what this trailer was for me. The tone, the story, the message behind it — it’s all there. You totally understand it. And it’s one of those trailers where I can’t imagine that anyone who sees it wouldn’t be completely interested in seeing this movie.

45. The Dark Knight Rises

Chris Nolan knows how to make a great trailer. This one — just wow. The kid singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the beginning is eerily perfect. And then you have Michael Caine, which is always a good decision for a trailer. It brings out the human emotion of it all. And then there’s the slow build of threat once again, with Bane showing up. And then that great explosion of the field. It’s all built around that one scene at the stadium, but you get the backstory to it all with those other clips. It’s an incredible piece of work. You get everything about the story from those clips. But what’s most interesting about this trailer? There’s less than five total seconds of Batman in it. It’s all Bruce Wayne. And it doesn’t even matter.

44. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

This is a perfect trailer. That score is so great, for starters, creating this beautiful, epic feel, and then there’s the ‘San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)’ cover that takes it from beautiful to sublime. I’m not even talking about how it sells the plot and what it’s conveying in terms of theme and social importance — I’m just talking about the pure feeling I get from this trailer. I get chills every time I watch it.

43. Green Room

Oh, this trailer is so good. Starts off kinda normal, and then, like the film, there’s the one moment that changes everything. And then it becomes about the fight for survival. The key to this trailer is the great cover of ‘Bad Moon Rising’. That’s what makes this so great. It really amps up the tension and the dread of the whole thing. A good cover version that fits the atmosphere of the film can make all the difference in a trailer. This is A24 at its best.

42. Atomic Blonde

So yes, the film is a John Wick knockoff, but no one ever said that was a bad thing. They’re selling you on Charlize as a sexy, ass-kicking secret agent, the neon colors the cool 80s music and the badass action. You can’t say they don’t do that perfectly here. There’s a full 30 seconds that’s just that one-take fight scene in the stairwell. And then they get into ‘Killer Queen’ (beautifully edited to her footsteps and beating the shit out of people) section, where they explain the plot, give you a bit of McAvoy, give you a bit of girl-on-girl, and then finish off with that moment where she fucking hangs the guy as she escapes. It’s just an all-around badass trailer that will make almost anyone want to see this movie.

41. Sausage Party

It’s the concept that’s genius, but this trailer is so goddamn funny. It takes you by complete surprise. It starts like some regular kids movie and then becomes, “WHAT THE FUCK” as the food realizes what’s gonna happen to it. And then it gets raunchy and hilarious, with that great Jason Derulo beat and the incredible ‘Saving Private Ryan’ war moments. It’s an amazing trailer that largely succeeds on the fact that you’ve never seen it before and that it’s such a great idea for a movie. But also… they cut it really well too.

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