Mike’s Favorite Movie Trailers of the Decade (40-31)

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:

40. The Favourite

The strength of the trailer is the way in which it conveys its tone and sense of humor. Most people, when they see a costume period piece like this, they think, “God, I don’t want to see that.” But this, you immediately see that it’s not gonna be like those other ones. They do a great job of showing the plot, but really it’s about building the intrigue of the situation and showing you just how courteously awful everyone is being to one another. Plus all those sour notes from the score — it’s a really fantastic trailer.

39. The Nice Guys

It’s super long and gives away so much plot, but it doesn’t matter. Because Shane Black movies aren’t about the plot. The plot just sort of happens among the buddy comedy scenes. Shane Black scenes are made for trailers. It’s funny how much and how little this trailer shows you at the same time. But the bits they show you are great, and it’s just a fun trailer.

38. Dolemite Is My Name

Just like the Nice Guys trailer — long, tells you a lot, but it doesn’t matter. Because it’s hilarious. Red band comedy trailers are usually great. The mix of the music and the great moments — it’s just fun.

37. Never Goin’ Back

I love this trailer. I’ve seen this so many times. Also red band comedy trailer, but more so an indie trailer. And it’s got that ‘voice of the filmmaker’ vibe to it, where you can tell there’s something here that reflects something the director really wanted to say. And it just makes you excited that you’re gonna get to go along for the ride.

36. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

It’s Quentin. His trailers are always great. And this one in particular is selling you a vibe and an atmosphere. And it’s doing it perfectly. The 60s music is the best part of the trailer — I mean, how great is it when they drop the ‘Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show’?

35. Dunkirk

Chris Nolan again. His trailers are wonderful. There are like three great trailers for this movie. This one does a good job of working in the theme of ‘time’, using the Hans Zimmer score really well. It sets up the story, gives you an idea of the visuals (and the stakes), has great war scenes, shows off the cast, and has that great moment of ‘home’ to uplift you at the end. It’s a perfect trailer.

34. Ad Astra

This trailer is the best of all the ones from this movie. It shows you the proper stakes of the film. Brad Pitt is in space looking for his father. That’s it. That’s the movie. They structure the trailer around him sending that message to him, working in other shots to add to the emotional stakes of the film, gives you great space visuals and has a great string score going on. And then you get the hint at ‘maybe this isn’t what you think it is’ — which makes you want to see the movie. It’s really well done. I’m a sucker for a good space trailer, and this is a terrific one.

33. Joker

It’s hard to argue against this trailer. This really let us know how good the movie was gonna be. It sets tone and atmosphere immediately. Shows off what Joaquin is gonna bring to the character, and then has that amazing Jimmy Durante version of ‘Smile’, which is a perfect choice. And then it overloads it into the score, which somehow feels like it underscores the deteriorating mental state of this guy, making it this operatic ode to mental illness and violence. It’s a really amazing trailer.

32. Gravity

They smartly single it out to just the moment where she gets detached and floats away into space, because that’s the movie. What if you were in space and ended up floating around, untethered? What would you do? That shit is scary. And, in a theater — I remember seeing this. No real set up or slow play. Just — boom. Visuals, sound, situation. You’re immediately sold on this. They even wait to drop the Warner Bros logo until they hook you. Which is the smartest move. This is how you sell a movie.

31. The Death of Stalin

The mother of all red band comedy trailers. It takes something you might not immediately think as funny and makes hilarious. It literally starts with a guy telling officers how to murder dissidents. And it’s funny. And that’s the beauty of it. It sells the situation but also gives you Armando Iannucci’s humor. Somehow the 1812 Overture is perfect. The moment they fully got me was the Jason Isaac’s ‘look at your fucking face’ delivery. It’s just so goddamn funny and makes you want to see the film immediately.

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