The Best Movie Trailers of 2017
Our celebration of the best of 2017 continues today with our ranking of the ten finest trailers and teasers of the year. As usual, what matters is the year the trailer was released, not the year the movie was (or will be) released. In fact, our pick for the trailer of 2017 advertises a movie that doesn’t come out until 2018. That’s because we’re not judging the films here, we’re judging the trailers, and we’re doing it entirely on their own merits. (We have at least one or two great trailers on this list for movies that were kind of cruddy.)
Our picks include action, horror, and superhero films, and there isn’t a single Imagine Dragons song in the bunch. (There is a sad cover of a pop song, but it’s a great one.) In ascending order, here are 2017’s best trailers:
10. The Shape of Water
I’ve said this before, but it’s always a good way of looking at movie trailers: They pose the question, and the movie gives you the answer. The Shape of Water trailer has all sorts of provocative questions: What’s going on with this apartment filled with water? Who is this creature? What makes it so important? And then there’s the question that Richard Jenkins’ character directly poses to the audience: “If I told you about her, the princess without voice, what would I say?” And he repeats the same question just before the title card appears onscreen, not-so-subtly reminding you that you need to get a ticket to hear Jenkins’ story.
9. Baby Driver
Few movies this year blend dialogue, music, sound effects, and action as effectively as Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, and the same is true of the film’s dynamic trailer. It’s like the greatest hits of the film’s soundtrack with two different versions of “Nowhere to Run” bookending highlights from the film’s chase sequences. The clip also samples the clever interplay between the action onscreen and the songs in Baby’s head, like when Jamie Foxx’s character taps his headphones in perfect rhythm with the track currently pounding through his iPod. It is impossible to imagine anyone who digs action films, car movies, or Edgar Wright’s past work watching this and going “Eh, I’ll pass.”
8. Thor: Ragnarok
On the one hand, a new Thor is an easy sell: It’s a new Marvel movie, and for a lot of people, that’s enough. But this Thor is very different in tone to the previous ones, something the full trailer for Ragnarok get across immediately when it reveals Thor’s hammer has been destroyed and he’s already making jokes about it. Thor explaining the state of things to a confused Bruce Banner makes for a clever structure to thread in clips from the movie, and Mark Mothersbaugh’s synthtastic score gives the whole trailer a shot of adrenaline. It threads the needle of making the film look epic and insane and acknowledging that the whole movie is designed to poke fun at its epic insanity.
7. The Disaster Artist
I am a sucker for teasers that just let one scene play in its entirety (or at least as much as can be crammed into a two-minute clip). For the first trailer for James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, the editors took one of the most infamous lines from The Room and simply let Franco’s Tommy Wiseau try and fail over and over to deliver it correctly. Opening on Seth Rogen screaming “Action!” and ending with Wiseau finally nailing his ridiculous dialogue on the umpteenth try, this clip is almost like a perfect short story. And the way the crew slowly transitions from incredulous to exhausted to disgusted to genuinely thrilled distills the essence of Franco’s vision of Tommy. He’s a genuinely bad filmmaker, but when he occasionally gets things right, it’s a heroic act.
6. It Comes At Night
This trailer is arguably too good; it’s so full of atmosphere and dread, with that long tracking shot down the hallway intercut with shots of men in gas masks, bodies being dragged, and dogs barking at unseen evil, that it gets you hyped for a more intense and overtly horrifying experience than the film itself ultimately provides. The movie disappointed me, but I still have to give props to whoever composed this trailer, and extracted and distilled every last bit of spooky pulp out of a relatively dry experience.
5. Atomic Blonde
The film does the heavy lifting here; it’s so stylish with bright pops of color and long flourishes of intricate action choreography, that the marketers just had to let director David Leitch’s work speak for itself. But the way Atomic Blonde’s greatest hits are assembled here into a propulsive 120-second sales pitch is mighty impressive. The blend of music and sound effects out-baby drivers Baby Driver, with songs layered atop of one another over those luminous closeups of Charlize and the sequences where she beats the crap out of German goons. To top it all off, the title card and actor credits presented in custom neon is as cool as a bathtub full of ice water.
4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The red-band trailer for Three Billboards opens with Frances McDormand’s character asking a billboard salesman what she can and cannot say on a piece of public advertising. Most of the words she cites are verboten, giving the fact that we’re hearing them an edgy thrill. This clip does an impressive job of condensing a complicated plot and a sprawling cast into an easily digestible video bite. Also, a word of warning: If you watch this clip through to the end, you will be singing the Four Tops’ version of “Walk Away Renee” for at least the next three days.
3. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ aesthetic is all about taking the everyday and twisting it into something unrecognizable and disturbing. Like, say, transforming a bubbly pop song into a whispery, tentative poem, mutating lyrics intended as an inspirational anthem curdle into an ominous portend of the terrible fate that awaits Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman’s family.
Sometimes, the proof is in the pudding. There’s a bunch of reasons It became one of the biggest surprise hits of 2017. But this teaser trailer in undeniably one of them. It basically makes the new It look like the scariest movie ever made, with Pennywise emerging from the murky void of a storm drain and then springing to life inside an old photo slideshow, where the sound of the carousel clicking around forms the audio bedrock for the second half of the trailer. They even get in one last click and near-subliminal shot of Pennywise to end things on a particularly chilling note.
1. Black Panther
33 million YouTube users can’t be wrong. The first teaser for Marvel’s Black Panther is just about perfect. The song choice (Run the Jewels’ “Legend Has It”) certainly is; the trailer’s slow reveal of the Black Panther title backed by that great beat is cool enough to give you chills. We already know T’Challa from Captain America: Civil War; this clip introduces us to the world of Wakanda, his technologically advanced home. It looks incredible, as do the shots of Black Panther in action. Hail to the king, and bring on that February release date already.
Gallery - The Scariest Non-Horror Movies: