Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we rank the best trailers that 2015 had to offer.
One of the things I noticed after the digital dust settled on my Top 10 list is how emotionally evocative many of these picks actually are. Besides my number one pick being on par with Requiem for a Dream-level kind of sad, there are more below where the aim of the trailer is to pluck some kind of chord within you. What you see below are the ten best examples of how this art form is still able to take a completed film and compress hours of a vision into two-plus minutes or, in the case of my number three pick, just one. I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of the ones that didn’t quite make it but absolutely left an impression. As with previous years, here are a handful that get some honorary attention as they’re genuine standouts:
With that, here are the rest…
10. The Revenant Teaser
If this was the totality of the movie’s marketing push you could find no fault in its choice. What’s wonderful about this teaser is that it not only embodies the teaser ethos to simply provide entree into this film’s world but it captures your attention and focus.
If there ever was something that could instantly slow you down and make you feel sad, this would be it. Long after I watched this I found myself wanting to revisit this trailer as a reminder for just how measured and focused some trailers can be, to say nothing of how such a tiny film can make a big impact. Not having the ability to see this movie is perhaps the cruelest result of all this adulation.
8. World of Tomorrow
If you wanted to craft a trailer to ensure that no one would be able to decipher what your movie is about yet make people want to see it Don Hertzfeldt’s ode to the future would be it. It’s a glorious pastiche of sights, sounds and everything in between.
7. Tangerine Red Band
An amazing technical achievement. Never mind the whole “shot on an iPhone” bit, but it’s really an achievement of a movie this size to craft something that feels wildly kinetic, has emotional heft, and makes smart, intelligent use of its red band status.
6. 45 Years
Devastating. What impressed me most about this trailer is how much it lets Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay be showcased. Many times it’s all about trying to hit some quick highlights but what you get here is someone thinking well enough to just let some moments breathe. While the impulse is to sell sell sell this trailer just silences those demands in favor of betting everything on hooking us with its lead actors. Winner winner.