Movie trailers are something that I have always loved watching. Even when I pop in a Blu-ray and they roll trailers beforehand, I can’t help but take my finger off the fast-forward button and enjoy them. The goal of these short snippets is to get us interested and excited to go see a film. If it gets your butt in the theater seat then it has done its job! Some trailers give us a little tease of what to expect, some can spoil an entire movie, and some may even be better than the movie itself! I’ve noticed that within the past decade or so, trailers have been really becoming a form of art in their own sense, and they are actually a lot of fun to watch.
Movie marketing departments have learned that a trailer can be so much more than just an amalgamation of clips from a film, and they have turned them into something to really look forward to. They now know to work more with music and editing to create something that resembles a miniature movie itself! So, with all that being said, here is what I think are 10 of the best trailers of all time.
*Disclaimer: As I mentioned before, I really believe that it hasn’t been until recent years that studios have really started creating amazing trailers, so don’t be surprised if you see a lot of recent films on here! Also, I judged these by how well the trailers are made and how well they service their respected film. They’re not judged by the films themselves.
10. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
If there is one way to describe Mad Max: Fury Road besides complete insanity, it would be sheer spectacle, and this trailer shows exactly that…as well as the insanity part. It does everything that a trailer needs to do with flying colors (pun intended) and lets the audience know exactly what they’re getting into. This awe-inspiring trailer captures every pulse pounding ounce of madness in all of its unadulterated glory. And let’s talk about that music! Verdi’s Dies Irae has never sounded better!
9. The Strangers (2008)
The Strangers trailer might be one of the most eerie trailers you’ll see. The film’s premise has a part to play in this for sure, but it’s the unsettling visuals that really make this trailer (almost) hard to watch. The response given to Liv Tyler’s question at the end is just the icing on cake of creepiness as we realize that this situation could happen to anyone. I don’t even need to watch the movie to be freaked out by this story; the trailer does that just fine. Especially when you slap an inspired by true events in there. *shivers unnervingly*
8. The Shining (1980)
Before it was listed as one of the greatest horror movies in cinematic history, there was a frightening trailer to give us a taste of what was to come. The trailer may seem plain and not show us much of a preview of the movie, but it is actually quite ominous and leaves us very uneasy in its simplicity. The long still shot leaves us wondering what on earth is going to happen. Our eyes read the text and then quickly dart back and forth to search for the source of this unrest. It isn’t until the end when we’re shown a nightmarish amount of blood that completely consumes the entire shot that we get a glimpse into Kubrick’s masterpiece.
7. The Revenant (2015)
This is one of my favorite trailers in recent years. There was a lot of hype around this movie even before the trailer came out, and, once it did, it was on everyone’s watch list. Everything about it is purely cinematic, and we can thank Alejandro Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki for that. We get to see Leonardo DiCaprio completely transform and give us a glimpse of what would be his Oscar winning role. Let’s be honest, did we doubt that he’d win after seeing this? All of that aside, I think the music in this trailer is where it really shines. I adore the use of drums, chants, and the sound of Leo’s breath that intensifies all the way to the last, silent shot.
6. Battle Los Angeles (2011)
I believe this is the epitome of a trailer that is better than the movie. This trailer leads us to believe that there is an awesome sci-fi war film here. I love the mix of “real” footage, chaotic destruction, and epic battle scenes flashing before us as if we’re watching it on the news. There are some fantastic and shocking clips here that get me legitimately excited. Dialogue and sound is substituted with a somber track that adds a strong level of drama up to its climactic end. Had I been able to watch the movie seemingly depicted in this trailer, it could very well have been one of my favorite sci-fi films ever.
5. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Back before the internet was home to every bit of information you could possibly want to know about a film, we had to rely on what we saw in the trailers or read in specific magazines. The Blair Witch Project capitalized on this in what could be the most effective marketing campaign since Star Wars hit theaters. This was the first big found-footage film to ever come out, and the trailer made people believe that this was a true story. The only answers you could really get on the validity of the story were found on the film’s website…which was made to make you think it was real too. Call it a hoax or a scam all you want, that’s just good marketing. This trailer gave everyone just enough to get a lot of people in the theater and make us fearful of what’s out the woods (which was pretty damn scary).
4. Man of Steel (2013)
Say what you will about the film itself, but Man of Steel has some of the most well made trailers I’ve ever seen. I honestly can’t pick between these two, so here’s both! You could watch all of them, teasers and everything, and the result is still the same: an inspiring, empowering, and incredible new look at Superman. The music fits so well with every moment of this trailer, and the way it’s cut and edited together will make you want to jump right out of your seat like the big man himself.
3. The Dark Knight (2008)
I still remember the first time I saw Heath’s Joker flash on screen in this trailer, and I was genuinely taken aback. I don’t think anybody really saw it coming! This trailer captures all the chaos and lunacy that we could want from a Batman movie involving the Joker. Hans Zimmer’s fantastic theme helps us feel every punch this trailer delivers, and Nolan’s stunning visuals pull us right into the frame. Yet, like the movie, the Joker steals the show here. From the first time we hear his voice we’re hooked, but the best part by far is his sinister grin and terrifying laugh in the last moments of the trailer. It gives me goosebumps to this day.
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
The Two Towers is always one of the first films that comes to mind when I think of excellent trailers, and I believe that it has the best use of music out of any other. You know that “epic trailer music” that you always hear in sports videos, motivational videos, or other trailers? Yeah, that’s called Requiem for a Tower, which is a re-orchestrated version of Lux Aeterna/Requiem for a Dream that was made specifically for this trailer, and it is amazing. I can’t think of another track that could match the scope of this film and get us so immensely excited for the second installment of such an epic trilogy.
1. Alien (1979)
Alien, in my opinion, has the single greatest trailer of all-time. For something of this quality to come out in 1979 is unheard of. The visuals used in this trailer keep you guessing right from the beginning as to what we’re looking at, and all the while a slow and ominous theme builds and builds. We start to hear a heartbeat pound faster as our own follows suit. The eerie and unsettling sound of alarms signals the danger that we’re witnessing as they begin to flash image after image of disturbing footage from the film. Then BAM! Silence, followed by what could very well be the best tag line for a film; In space no one can hear you scream. Even trailers today can’t instill this kind of anxiety and fear without spoiling the film. Now this is truly masterful work.
This is a tough list to make and not everyone can make the top 10, but here are few more that deserve some recognition!
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): The trailer that showed us the first time Batman and Superman would meet on-screen in film history, and it is awesome.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): An intense look into the best movie in the MCU as well as its best villain.
Inception (2010): The trailer that started the now cliché BWAHHHH that’s in almost every other trailer nowadays.
Red Eye (2005): A great tonal change mid-trailer that leaves you thoroughly interested in the film. Just be sure to ignore the terrible early 2000’s transitions throughout.
The Matrix (1999): Excellent visual effects, mind blowing action sequences, and an interesting story hinted? Why wouldn’t you watch it after seeing this trailer?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015): The hype was real…no seriously, SO much hype. Full of classic music, revitalized effects, and enough nostalgia to kill a small tuantuan.
And there you have it! The 10 best trailers of all time! Do you agree with my this list? Did I miss anything? What are you favorite movie trailers? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below!