I’m sure you’ve been seeing a whole mess of “Top 10 Trailer” lists floating around as the year draws to a close, and you might be thinking “which of these lists is the best list”? Well we can put your mind at ease. Whichever one you choose, you’re wrong! No single list of trailers can fully emulate the thrill of a 12 months of great trailers…until now. Yes, this is the list for you, based solely on the criteria of how much the trailer made us want to see the film. No small feat, for a bunch of grumpy cynics. Also this list has 15 entries, that’s like…5 better than a top 10. Or 5 worse, depending on how you look at it. In any case, look at it!
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Age of Ultron is the perfect example of a film that has developed a solid sense of momentum. First we had the news of a sequel, then we had a name, then we had credit sequences, then we had artwork, then we got the trailer. But the trailer wasn’t just one in a long line of promotions: it was very careful to include all the little bits and pieces we’d seen so far in their shiny, finished form. Add in a chilling James Spader monologue and you’re all done. Best Moment: Iron Man busting out his Hulk Buster Armour.
The trailer for Michael Keaton‘s phoenix-like rebirth had a lot going for it: a strong cast, dry humour, giant mechanical birds, Keaton jumping off a roof, Keaton running naked through New York, Keaton fighting Graham Norton in their underwear. What made us want to see it more than anything was the fact that these scenes appeared to have no connection to one another whatsoever. Sure there was the general plot reveal of Keaton’s character brining his once prominent career to the stage with the character that’s been tormenting him for years, but that was it. There was no foothold , no distinction between what was real and what was fantasised. Well, we just had to find out, didn’t we? Best Moment: Keaton on his bizarre walk to the stage from his dressing room.
The people behind Godzilla did it right. They started with a teaser that was, in a word, disorienting. We don’t see much, but we know what we’re looking out for. Then we get the roar. So out comes the full trailer, and even though we get a lot more solid looks at the cuddly alpha predator, we’re still pausing the video every three seconds trying to catch that shape that went shooting past the building. It seems obvious and childish, but we went to see this film just to get a good look at the bloody thing! Best Moment: Hey, what was that thing flying in the sky? Was that Mothra? I think it was Mothra!
Sure, you’ve got Paul Thomas Anderson and a book by Thomas Pynchon, but the real draw of this trailer is Joaquin Phoenix. We’ve been steadily falling in love with him through The Master and Her, watching him come so close to Oscar’s but never quite reaching the finish line first. So it’s nice to see him blow off some steam in a role that is unabashedly and sometimes violently silly. The quality of the writing and directing is kind of a safety net for a film like this, but the chance to see Phoenix struggle through a town full of loonies is the big draw. Best Moment: The opening monologue that trips you into the rabbit hole.
Another good example of an enticing teaser followed by an awesome trailer. But Jurassic World broke a few rules by making the gap between the teaser and the trailer as small as humanly possible – only a couple of days really. That’s another way to get an audience excited – make them feel like they’re getting more than they should. And even though you don’t see the dinosaur everyone’s running from you do get to see what everyone really wanted to see…Jurassic World itself! And a return to the classic format of a five second scene at the very end that raises so many more questions than the rest of the trailer answers. Best Moment: Wait, is Chris Pratt working with raptors now?
It’s a testament to a film’s intensity when the trailer freaks the nonsense out of you. There have been a lot of horror trailers this year (sorry you didn’t make the list Babadook), but the trailer for Whiplash is the only one that really put the scares on me. The real appeal goes to J.K. Simmons as the unstoppable menace of a band leader who puts Miles Teller through emotional and physical hell to make him the best of the best. I couldn’t wait for it to be over just so I could watch it again. Best Moment: J.K. Simmons is wearing a pork pie hat…nice.
For a film that was critically decimated, Tusk doesn’t seem to have director Kevin Smith‘s career any harm. He’s continuing with the True North Trilogy with Yoga Hosers and Moose Jaws and even getting Clerks 3 back in motion. I was in pieces at the end of this trailer: I couldn’t believe how simple it was to combine gristly horror with comedy that was on the light side of black. A monstrosity of a trailer in the best possible way, much like the film itself. Best Moment: Are Justin Long and Michael Parks having a snarling match?
A more standard turnout of David Fincher directing and Trent Reznor composing there could never be. For a story that is full of twists and surprises, the trailer is pretty vacant of both. What makes this one of the best trailer so the year, along with the chilling cinematography, is the construction of the trailer itself. The whole thing isn’t that long, but plays out like a short film in itself. It could nearly be a short film! Best Moment: Seriously Ben Affleck, could your smile be any more murderous?
The unique selling point of the trailer for Nightcrawler is almost certainly the portrayal of Jake Gyllenhaal. But we don’t just see what his character is like – we see how he developed, how he changes and adapts to the violence going on around him until he can’t help but get blood all over his hands. We see an arc from desperation to inquisition to ambition to ambition becoming everything as Gyllenhaal wades through the muck of freelance crime journalism. But we don’t see him drowning in it…we see him playing around in it. Best Moment: Seriously Jake Gyllenhaal, could your smile be any more murderous?
Xmen: Days of Future Past
A surprising change of pace when you consider the trailer for its predecessor. They didn’t have to go quiet and emotional with the Days of Future Past trailer, but they did, and it worked an absolute treat. I know people who started tearing up at the back and forth between James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as past and future Xavier. What? No not me, don’t be silly. It hinted at all the mutants without feeling the need to name them all or show them all in action. For a blockbuster it was as understated as it could be, which worked in its favour. Best Moment: “I don’t want your future” (“Are you crying?” “No! shut up!”)
White Bird in a Blizzard
This is one of the few films on this list where the film didn’t quite live up to the trailer. But that doesn’t stop the trailer itself from being a gem. The whole thing plays out like a photo shoot for Eva Green, in countless 50’s household moments. But the fact that she’s the missing mother in this modern world is a bizarre turnaround. the visuals were definitely the part that I just couldn’t get my head around in the best possible way. Crime-drama, coming-of-age, all that good stuff. Shame the film didn’t quite match up. Best moment: Oh, so Eva Green is a bit nutty huh?
I’m a sucker for any film that takes place in a confined space. But weirdly enough what made the trailer for Snowpiercer – or mutiny on the dystopian future-train – magnificent was the sheer capacity and volume of action that was taking place in such a small space. The almost monochrome interior made for a very claustrophobic trailer , and only upped the ante when the guns started going off. Shame about the lack of a UK release, but that only made us want it more. Best Moment: Seriously Tilda Swinton, could your Northern accent be any more murderous?
They already had everything they needed to draw people into Foxcatcher. They had Channing Tatum, and they had Steve Carell in a serious role, which almost always works out well for him. But it was the way they focussed on Carell throughout – not on his actions, but on his presence in the background of every scene. We hear very little from him, from any of the characters really, but it’s Carell’s blank face in the corner of the room, always on the point of snarling, that made this trailer so enticing. You could have easily missed the gun in his hand at the end. Best Moment: Did Carell just slap Tatum? Is that allowed?
The Zero Theorem
You can always rely on Terry Gilliam for a giddy asylum patient of a trailer. Like Gone Girl, the trailer for Zero Theorem is almost a short in itself, with Christoph Waltz floating miserably through the scenes and every other character seeming to divert his straight line of movement. Great pops of colour and bizarrely cheeky lines, all with the underlying heartbeat of “Zero can equal 100%”. A mad treat. Best Moment: “Christoph Waltz is referring to himself in the plural. That’s weird.”
Kingsman: The Secret Service
The final trailer on our list represents a return to form for the balls-out action trailer. It reminded us of the pant-wettingly awesome trailer for Kick-Ass all those years ago, and how once again we were just getting wrapped up in the fast-moving snippets and the clockwork shift from dialogue to gunshots to martial arts to Colin Firth with a spy umbrella. Firth is definitely the main draw of the trailer, busting out moves we haven’t seen since the deleted scenes from Love Actually when he wins his love interest over by taking on a team of Spanish assassins invading his house. Best Moment: Why is Samuel L Jackson wearing his hat like that?
So that about wraps it up for a year of great trailers. Did we include your favourite?