I’ve always looked at movie trailers as its own unique piece of art. Even if the film never lives up to the promises of a good trailer, I will continue to go back and re-watch them. As such, one of my favorite year-end lists to do (though I missed out last year as we were getting ready to welcome a newborn) is a look back at the best trailers for the year.
It gives me a chance to revisit some of these great mini-pieces of film art, look at how they compared to the final film (for those that release this year) and get hyped for what’s to come. All of these worked for different reasons, but they’re no less impressive and effective in their purpose:
Thor: Ragnarok (Teaser)
The first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok ultimately set the tone for the entire adventure. Not only did it make it clear to audiences that this film would take the God of Thunder in an all new direction, it showcased a great new villain who’s a genuine threat. Moreso, even in its short length, it managed to deliver some instantly quotable lines and awe-inspiring moments. Best of all, it showed almost nothing of the film’s final act. I was sold after this trailer alone and needed nothing else to get my butt in the theater.
You know my girlfriend has had a major impact on my life when a horror movie (which she’s always loved) ends up on my year-end lists. The IT movie was so impressively well handled that it sits firmly within my top ten films of the year, but before it launched, the teaser trailer made an impact. Haunting, filled with tension, and offering a glimpse at Pennywise that remained with audiences all the way until they saw the film, the IT teaser works well as its own mini-horror movie. Hell, even after seeing the whole film, this teaser still gives me chills.
The Shape of Water
While I haven’t loved every Guillermo del Toro film out there, there’s no denying his impressive visual style and the way he manages to tell a story without saying much at all. The Shape of Water trailer showcases this storytelling prowess in the best ways possible, while teasing a different kind of monster movie/love story. It’s a beautiful piece of filmmaking on its own, promising something special for the full movie.
The Last Jedi (Theatrical Trailer)
While the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was offered a glimpse of the new film and teased it’s tone, the full theatrical trailer for the film completely blows it out of the water. It’s packed with impressive visuals and goosebump inducing moments, including an ending that left just about all of us screaming at the screen. It promised a Star Wars film unlike any other, while still hitting on the key themes we’re familiar with.
Dunkirk (Theatrical Trailer)
Much as I love Christopher Nolan movies, I have to say I wasn’t all that interested in Dunkirk. It’s not so much that it was a Nolan movie, as much as I think I’m just tired of war movies…But then I saw the theatrical trailer for Dunkirk and my hype kicked into gear. Seriously, it’s a fantastic trailer filled with pulse-pounding tension that leaves you eager to see how its resolved. Watching the trailer even now boosts my heart rate and has me gripping the chair.
War for the Planet of the Apes (Final Trailer)
After how amazing the last two Planet of the Apes films were, my hype on War for the Planet of the Apes was already through the roof. The first trailer was impressive, but can’t compare to the epic nature of the movie’s final marketing trailer. Filled with incredible acting (the confrontation between Caesar and Woody Harrelson’s character alone makes this trailer worthwhile), this trailer promises a deeply emotional conclusion with plenty of action to go around.
Blade Runner 2049 (Theatrical Trailer)
The teaser trailer for Blade Runner 2049 was a nice toe-dip back into the vast waters of this world. It set the tone for the returning science fiction film, and teased some story. The full theatrical trailer, however, was a masterpiece in driving expectations through the roof. It’s here that we get our best look at the story, and new villain, while hammering home the distinct visual flair Denis Villeneuve brought to the film. Even if you didn’t care for the film when it launched, there’s no denying how impressive this trailer is.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
While the final film fell a little short of expectations (I wanted to love it, but couldn’t), the trailer for Valerian showcases a sprawling new universe to explore and discover. Though there’s no information on the plot in the trailer, beyond introducing us to the main characters and their “partnership,” it does a great job selling you on the world-building on display. It makes you believe that another amazing film like 5th Element is on the horizon…and I want to believe.
To be entirely honest, I still can’t begin to tell you what’s going on in this trailer (or even the movie itself), but that doesn’t make this any less engaging. When this first dropped early in the year, I remember my initial reaction was, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m loving it.” The trailer does a great job of setting a tone and keeping you entirely on edge. It’s unsettling even if you don’t know why, and it’s that intrigue that sucks you in and makes you want more.
I enjoyed the most recent trailer for Annihilation, which paints the film as a more action oriented monster flick, but it’s first trailer is the one that still makes me think. Visually, it’s a gripping trailer that manages to hook you into each and every frame (Alex Garland has a knack for that). Moreso, the intrigue and mystery behind the surreal visuals makes you want to watch it over and over, hoping for more clues. While we’ll still have to wait and see if the movie ultimately pays off, I know I’m more than ready to check it out.
Honorable Mentions: These trailers were great, but didn’t have that gripping appeal that lingered with me as the year wore on. While they are still a lot of fun, I couldn’t put them on my top list.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Sicario 2: Soldado
It Comes at Night
Avengers: Infinity War
Stranger Things 2 “Thriller” Trailer (I know it’s not a movie, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t deserve recognition of some kind)
In the hundreds of trailers released this year, these are the ones that stood out most to me. Undoubtedly I’ve left off a couple I’ll be kicking myself over later for forgetting, but I think the list will hold up. Now that you’ve seen some of my favorite movie trailers for 2017, what were yours?