Mike’s Favorite Movie Trailers of the Decade (30-21)

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:

30. A Star Is Born

I couldn’t get enough of this trailer when I first saw it. Apart from being a huge fan of this story in all its iterations, I had a lot of doubt as to how great a film it was gonna be. And this trailer did a lot to allay those suspicions. They bring the music front and center, using ‘Maybe It’s Time’ to basically spell out the entire Cooper/Jackson character in about five seconds, which is really well done. They also use Chappelle and the visuals to do that as well. Then they build up the romance, which is, of course, the crux of the film, and build toward “Shallow” which is their defining song together. The way they weave that song in at the end is just wonderful and gives me chills. And, it has her taking over all the vocals, too, which is a mirror of the plot of the film as well. It’s a really, really incredible trailer.

29. Inherent Vice

What’s great about this trailer is that is starts so complicated, with the voiceover trying to explain all these crazy machinations of the ‘plot’, but in reality it’s just milieu and Joaquin being high and ping-ponging around this ‘mystery’. And then all the overlapping dialogue which serves no purpose but all somehow perfectly captures the spirit of the film. It’s really just selling you on the weird 70s stuff you’re getting, and that’s all you need. You were sold on Anderson anyway. The music really helps too.

28. Argo

Every time this trailer comes up, I will always mention the ‘Dream On’ cover. Because that’s the memorable part of this trailer for me. It’s a very beautifully, classically cut trailer. Set up, hostage crisis, CIA needs to come up with a plan, stakes, fake movie, now boom. You get into the fun of that setup, while also maintaining the tension and stakes. It’s really well done. They’re selling you on the uniqueness of the story and the fun with which they’re telling it. It’s great. But that ‘Dream On’ beat is really just tremendous. Sometimes it’s the music choice that elevates a trailer in to the stratosphere.

27. Detroit

Focusing the majority of this trailer around the interrogation scene (which isn’t even like 5% of the stuff that’s in the film) really was a great decision. Because everything the film is trying to say, thematically and socially, is all there. Boyega is a security guard who is on the cops’ side, and yet they treat him like a criminal and are basically ready to blame him for it just because he’s black. And then they work in clips of the motel sequence and the historical context of the film. They create a real air of menace and tension throughout the whole thing, and it’s just so well done. You really get the feel of the film and want to see it. I’d say this is a better trailer than both Bigelow’s previous two films.

26. The Night Before

Starting with the Christmas poem and leading into the ‘Big’ moment but them playing Kanye is a stroke of genius. I was sold on this movie right there. The rest is just red band comedy trailer stuff. They sell you the story and throw out the jokes. You just know it’s gonna be funny from that. It’s an incredible trailer that I must have seen like 50 times since it’s come out. And the best part is (and you wouldn’t necessarily know this from the trailer) that the trailer isn’t even close to the funniest stuff in the actual film. But it still sells you on the story really well and gives you great moments. It’s worth it for Seth Rogen in church alone.

25. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Let me start by saying — every Mission Impossible trailer is great. They know how to sell their action, the theme song alone makes the trailers great and every time you see a new trailer you want to go out and see the movie immediately. But, this one in particular is a masterpiece of trailer-making because they do the thing of making this seem like ‘the end’. The bad guy from the last one is back. They start with the somber music and Sean Harris talking about ‘the fallout’ coming, and all the bad things they’ve avoided to this point finally coming to pass. Then they get into that incredible guitar riff (and I can’t believe I just said that about Imagine Dragons, but hey… that’s the strength of a good trailer and perfectly used music) as they get into the plot. And then it’s usual Mission Impossible fare. It’s all really well cut, music to action. Gives you some great visuals and fight scenes. But then of course they give you the moment you’re waiting for, the moment at the end when the actual theme kicks in. They save it for the end, and whenever that comes on, you go, ‘Okay, I’m in’.

24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

So this is a double trailer. They released this to promote both Parts 1 and 2 and tell you when they were coming, and then each part got its own trailer as they got closer to their respective release dates. But to me, this trailer encapsulates everything you want out of a trailer for this franchise’s finale. It’s stunningly good. It starts with the forest scene, ‘Harry Potter, the boy who lived, come to die’, and Voldemort throwing the Avada Kedavra. That alone is a tense scene if you haven’t read the books. It’s a great way to start a trailer. And then they get into the incredibly epic score and shots from the films, basically saying, “Don’t worry, we know it’s the end, we’re doing it big.” And they remind you of just how important this franchise is and how much it means to us all. Another thing a good trailer will do is use its shots to sell a mood, even if they don’t work that way in the film. There’s a shot of Filch in this trailer and an explosion going off behind him, and in the movie, it’s just comedy. Here, it works to sell the mood they’re putting down of everything coming crumbling down and people being in mortal peril. And of course they end with that money shot of them dueling in the courtyard, which is literally the moment all eight movies build toward. It’s an incredibly piece of work, this trailer.

23. Mad Max: Fury Road

The main trailer is great too, but this teaser is everything you need. They spend ten seconds — post-apocalyptic, desert, water, Max on the run. That’s all we need to remind us of the franchise. Then it’s just an orgy of crazy visuals that make you go, “Oh my fucking god.” The movie is something else, but this trailer makes you think, “This is not what I expected this to be.” And then the big operatic music to underscore just what an epic action movie this is gonna be — it’s perfect. ‘Dies Irae’? It takes a great trailer to make a piece of music like that not feel obvious and stale. And my god, do they do it. This is the kind of trailer that makes you want to put on the movie right now. Which means it’s done its job ten fold.

22. Magic Mike XXL

You wanna know how to sell a trailer as simply as you possibly could? Watch this one. It’s a minute and a half and it literally tells you both nothing and everything at the same time. It’s a sequel, so there’s some leeway there, but still. Assuming people saw the first one, you know that Channing Tatum’s character makes furniture and remembers the use of ‘Pony’. So, here, you have him working on something and then ‘Pony’ comes on. And you get humor because he’s behind the helmet the whole time and yet — you know what his face is saying. And then he’s timing the saw to the beats of the song, eventually just getting into the dancing. It’s literally the ‘just when I get out they pull me back in’ scene. But WITHOUT WORDS. And you get it. And then they just throw images at you to say ‘guess what, we’re back’, and then give you the money shot of all the dudes shirtless on the stage. And then the punchline of ‘you’re welcome’. You truly cannot get better than this as a trailer.

21. Iron Man 3

This is the best trailer Marvel’s ever put out. Because, being the third one, you expect there to be stakes. And holy shit, does this trailer make it feel like there are gonna be stakes in the film. They took the structure for this one for their Endgame trailer, with Stark ruminating on his situation as if he’s gonna die soon. But it’s setting up him being afraid for Pepper’s safety now knowing the dangers that are out there. Then, boom. Suits blowing up. And the fucking menacing way they show you the Mandarin, with that epic music. And then the house getting blown up and him sinking to the bottom of the ocean, ending with him in the middle of the snow, dragging the suit behind him. It is a perfect trailer. Forget what you know about the film itself. But the film they’re selling you — incredible.

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