Christopher Stipp’s Top 10 Trailers of 2018

Green Band Trailer

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, let’s rank The Best Movie Trailers of 2018.

What a strong year for trailers.

Some decry the trailers that show too much, reveal more than it should, or flat out don’t sell a movie well. There’s an artistry to these little two-minute thirty-second pieces of pure marketing delight, and there are some true artisans out there who are keeping this medium alive and well for yet another year.

With that, here are your runners-up for the Top 10 for 2018:

You Were Never Really Here – Tense throughout and holds your attention tight
Cobra Kai – Who would have thought that a decades-old property like this could have such a powerful teaser
Revenge – If you’re looking for a textbook example of how to use reviews in a trailer to help sell a film, this would be it
If Beale Street Could Talk – Gorgeous, elegant, and it communicates effortlessly through its art
All Creatures Here Below – Such a small movie, but this trailer is everything to me

And now, without further ado, here are the rest…

10. Cold War

I cannot stop thinking about this trailer. Of all the approach angles you could take to sell a foreign film this was a brilliant decision. It is sad, it is sexy, and it is powerful. Even though not one word is spoken, none are needed.

9. Game Night

What a way to sell a comedy. I don’t know the last time I laughed as heartily as I did as when I first saw this, but it still gets me. You can get a little nervous even when you find a trailer that makes you giggle, fearing they just put all the good things in there, but this one is rock solid all the way through. Even when you watch the finished product, you realize that the editors had a pick of the litter as the movie wonderfully delivers on the promises the trailer makes.

8. Queer Eye: Season 2

Not all trailers have to be lessons in what makes a trailer great. Why I include this one is that this trailer manages, in two minutes, to capture the heart of what this show is all about. Men helping other men become better versions of themselves, the trailer flips the notion of what a reality show ought to be. It’s not a great new haircut; it’s not about getting new threads or obtaining the skills to make a fantastic crostini. It’s about the transformations they make in the lives of those they set out to help.

7. Deadpool 2

If you’re going to drop F-bombs and get an NSFW label you better earn it. To that end, I can’t think of a better example of a trailer that pushes its will upon you. An utter delight, the trailer hits its marks and, of course, Peter provides the perfect period at the end of a hilarious sentence.

6. Mandy

It comes in hot and does not relent. What more is there to say other than this trailer doesn’t sell itself as much as it does just speaking in the native tongue of its story. Sold.

5. The Trade

Opioids are causing irreparable harm within communities all across the US. This trailer contextualizes the issue and then drives the point home further by giving you a front-row view of the action. Makers of illegal opium, the police responding to the threat, users, pushers, and all the drama in-between makes this a deep and emotionally effective trailer without ever pushing a narrative agenda. Sometimes the truth is evocative enough.

4. Madeline’s Madeline

This is how you push the medium forward. What is so amazing about what is on display is that while the trailer sells the narrative, it also plays within the boundaries of how a trailer should function. The ease with which it integrates pull-quotes, and the way individual scenes blend in with one another while never being confusing, is a testament to the power of how well this trailer is constructed. A notable creation all its own, to be sure.

3. Mission Impossible: Fallout

It’s all due to Cavill’s reloading arms. From the debate around where that shirt pocket came from, to that public “reload” he made in front of a crowd of hyped up fans, there is no question that this trailer raised the bar for action franchises. Tom Cruise, for his part, should be credited for just being his usual bombastic self. Look, when it comes to tentpole films you have to be better than the rest. With this trailer, though, they brought the heat when it came to outselling anyone else putting out a piece of marketing this summer.

2. Hereditary

I don’t want to hear one word about how this movie wasn’t scary. As Toni Collette screams “I am your mother!” it turns this trailer into something truly frightening and, most likely, what sold me the most on this movie’s pitch. An example of how a trailer can keep a steady hand while just let things burn as slow and as terrifying, as possible I came back to watch this trailer every once in a while last year convinced it deserved the number two spot.

1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor

If you’re not absolutely moved by the end of this trailer you are a human robot. Who would have thought that the most emotionally stirring trailer last year would be the one for Mr. Rogers? Someone who was a public television regular, who no doubt played a positive role in so many young people’s lives, you wouldn’t think he would make for such stirring viewing. The delightful thing is, though, he was stirring in the most emotional way possible. The small clips of listening to his thoughts on love, on social inequities, on being honest, this all adds up to kleenex grabbing viewing even before you see the rest.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

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