Ok, a little explanation.  I have long been a fan of movie trailers.  I HATE to be late or right on time to a movie, because part of my excitement to be at the cinema is that I love watching the “previews” (trailers).  I’ve probably been dissecting the art of trailers (and yes, it is an art for those who do it well) for only about 10 years, spurred on by discussions I’ve had with Josh Gibbs, mostly.  A good trailer of course has to get you excited about a film.  And it doesn’t have to be a good film.  In fact, a great trailer can get you excited about a crappy film – and that’s part of what makes it a great trailer, and perhaps even distinguishes them from good trailers featuring great films.  It’s easy to get you excited about a movie that’s been highly anticipated, or that is just plain brilliant.  It also cannot give away too much.  Some great trailers are spliced together with action, some have superb musical choices.  My list?  It’s got a little of all of those elements.  Now, just because a movie is highly anticipated or brilliant doesn’t mean it can’t have a great trailer.  Finally, I will admit, I didn’t put a ton of thought into this list, probably only sat on it for an hour or so before finalizing it.  But it’s taken a decade to trim down the probably thousands of movie trailers I’ve seen.  Here you are.


Top Ten Trailers of the Decade


1.       The Matrix Reloaded – Oh my goodness were people excited for this flick.  The beauty of the trailer?  The movie didn’t live up to the hype.  I enjoyed it, sure, but it wasn’t a work of art like the first film.  But after this trailer debuted, people were TALKING. My oh my.

2.       Pearl Harbor – Another highly anticipated movie that didn’t live up to the expectations (thanks a lot, Josh Hartnett).  But when you see the bomb travelling down from the air to the carrier and explode, you can’t tell me you weren’t excited.

3.       Kill Bill:  Volume 1 – Kickass music to go along with kickass action, and the long-awaited new Tarantino film.  I think a lot of this movie, so there was a lot it had to choose from, but it was still finely crafted none the less.  (Update – Upon rewatching these, this might vault to #1)

4.       Cloverfield – GREAT marketing campaign centered around a “mystery” movie.  The first trailer, you didn’t know WHAT was going on, but you wanted to see it!

5.       The Dark Knight – Another highly anticipated film, that totally delivered.  But with the score, and Heath Ledger’s death, it made seeing the trailer positively creepy.

6.       Jerry Seinfeld:  Comedian – A fantastic play on movie trailers really delivered.  It was a boring “documentary” for the most part, but the trailer was hilarious.

7.       Superman Returns – Used sound clips and soundtrack from the old movies brilliantly and got you excited to see a so-so installment of the franchise. (Update – the one I remembered is a bit of an exception.  The trailer is excellent, but the first teaser  – though it doesn’t have much action – is actually better)

8.       There Will Be Blood – My oh my, that prolonged note from Johnny Greenwood’s (of Radiohead fame) score gives me chills.  This was pieced together beautifully.

9.       Where the Wild Things Are – Once again, love the Arcade Fire song used to get you excited about what amounts to a children’s movie (but directed by Spike Jonze).  I imagine having an ex-music video director be the director of the film helped immensely.

10.   Unbreakable/Signs – Shymalan may not be in his prime any more, but he still knows how to cut a trailer.  I gotta include both of them, because they are both shiver-inducing. and

Disqualified for being released in 1999:  For Love of the Game (best use of a song in a trailer ever):, The Sixth Sense (scariest trailer ever behind The Shining and Alien):, Star Wars:  Episode 1 (unbelievable build up, incredible trailer, mediocre movie at best):  Update – I think maybe the trailer for the next two were even better, but the second movie in particular wasn’t well received, to put it mildly, so I disqualified it.  Also, the buildup for episode 1 was unbelievable.

Disqualified for being released in 1979, but the best movie trailer with the best tagline of all time:  Alien.  In Space, no one can hear you scream.   I have goose bumps just typing that.


8 Responses to “Trailers”

  1. timmyjimi Says:

    Seems like most movies these days have multiple trailers. You almost have to specify which one you’re referring to. Had you linked to them, I probably would have spent the next half hour watching them.

  2. Josh Mc Says:

    I couldn’t stand the “Where The Wild Things Are Trailer”, and because of it I intend to never watch the movie. Did not like the music, didn’t like the queer creatures, and couldn’t really tell what the movie was about. Maybe it meant something to people who grew up on the story.

  3. jmmelton Says:

    Josh: You have no soul and are therefore disqualified from this discussion.

    Tim: You’re right, these days that’s fairly true, but I specified Trailer, not Teaser, and most of the ones on the list only had one. Also, most movies have one main trailer, the 2-minute variety that comes out first (or after the initial teaser). I would like to have linked them, but I didn’t have time. Sorry, man. You can probably google or youtube them very easily, but maybe I’ll do that here fairly soon…

  4. timmyjimi Says:

    Atta’ boy. Now I DID just waste half an hour, and that Alien trailer was the right way to end it – agreeably the best (not) on the list.

  5. timmyjimi Says:

    I’m sure you’ve seen it. What do you think of this one?

  6. jmmelton Says:

    Eh. As a trailer, it didn’t get me excited about the movie. It looked…weird. And that may be the fault of the movie. But it shouldn’t matter to a great trailer, so I say again…eh.

  7. theauthor Says:

    I like this list quite a bit. I think I like “Pearl Harbor” a bit more than “The Matrix Reloaded,” although that Matrix preview had me chomping at the bit. I may have put that “Where The Wild Things Are” trailer closer to the top. It was a good bit of work in and of itself.

  8. jmmelton Says:

    theauthor: the more I think about it, the more you may be right on both counts. I think if I had to write this list over again today, Kill Bill might be #1.

    BTW, who are you?

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