A good trailer doesn’t always mean a good movie, but the short and teasey previews are what get us excited to go to the movies. The most memorable trailers can be gorgeous pieces of art on their own and sometimes they’re the funniest, scariest or most clever forms of marketing. This year has given us a surplus of fantastic trailers making eliminations especially tough. While a Marvel movie can sell itself on brand alone, sometimes a truly great trailer takes inventiveness to the next level. (And don’t worry, there are honorable mentions for those that didn’t make the cut.) The only rules for our list is that the trailers had to debut during the 2015 calendar year, which includes movies released in this year and those still to come in 2016.
Did your favorite trailers from 2015 make the cut? If not, share them in the comments below. Stay tuned for more of ScreenCrush’s best of 2015 throughout the rest of December!
Self-aware movie trailers that know their audience, tease their audience and then give that audience exactly what they want are pretty fantastic. Just like the shirtless strippers of Magic Mike XXL, this trailer did exactly that, making sure to take full advantage of sexual puns throughout. I’m not even the target audience for this film, and admittedly haven’t seen it or the first movie, but the trailer is so clever I can’t help but laugh.
A David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence film hardly needs to sell itself. For Joy, they probably could’ve just showed a montage of the casts’ headshots, slap his name on the screen and audiences would buy tickets regardless. While Jennifer Lawrence is the center of this upcoming family drama, editing is the real star of the film’s first teaser trailer. It gives us a brief look at Lawrence’s family matriarch with the director’s signature gliding camera and close-ups of tears, fights, breakdowns and more tears all to a choral version of The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” After that surge of dramatics, it all ends with a cathartic scene of Joy firing a shotgun and introducing herself. Without revealing much about the story, the teaser manages to showoff its fantastic ensemble and portray Lawrence as another bad ass Russell leading lady. Whether or not the film delivers, though, is another matter.
Everything about the Love trailer screams Gaspar Noé, which in simple terms is: utterly and excessively explicit. His 3D sexcapade follows one man reminiscing about his ex-girlfriend and their many, many sexual exploits. It's pretty much art house porn and the trailer for the film is exactly that. Shots of the naked couple (and at one point, trio) having sex in various positions and locations are shown in between the letters of the film’s title — even though it's a very NSFW trailer, the negative space of the font hides the majority of the nudity. Then a montage of scenes climax (pun definitely intended) until a bunch of, uh, white stuff drips down and covers the screen. It's a pretty hilarious and, in Noé's typical style, artful way to market a film all about sex. And since the 2D trailer couldn't exactly replicate the film’s 3D shots, this pretty much says it all.
A good scary movie trailer needs to accomplish a few basic things: unsettle you, just scratch the surface of the film’s mystery and leave you with a handful of questions. The trailer for Goodnight Mommy does that, but it also leaves you totally terrified. “What the hell?!” is also an acceptable reaction. Images of the lead actress’s face wrapped in bandages, reminiscent of Eyes Without a Face, paired with the eeriness of the two twin brothers is so chilling that its hard to shake off after seeing it. This trailer shows just enough to draw major horror movie fans and the art house crowd. Luckily, it’s as scary as the movie turned out to be.
It's pretty hard to sell a film adaptation of a Shakespearian tragedy to a modern audience, especially one which keeps the playwright’s English in tact. Yet somehow the trailer for Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth makes the film look like one of the most thrilling dramas of the year. The slo-mo battle sequences, the gorgeous crisp cinematography and shots of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard at their most dramatic all to a chorus of people chanting "Hail Macbeth" makes for a stunning portrait of the film. Although this is another case where the trailer is more exciting than the movie itself, this trailer definitely makes a Shakespeare film look incredibly sexy.
The trailer for Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth is so uncomfortable and disturbing that you may find yourself laughing a nervous kind of laughter in response. When Elisabeth Moss’ smiling, shiny eyed character says, “I could kill you right now and no one would even know,” it’s so bizarre that you may not know how to emotionally react. But it’s not just Moss’ performance and Perry’s too-close-for-comfort close-ups and isolated scenic shots that create this air of unease. In homage to trailers of 1970s psychological thrillers, the Queen of Earth trailer features a narrator introducing the film in a classic deep-growl voiceover (think Bergman’s Persona). It crawls under your skin and stays there.
Scarlett Johansson in a mermaid costume! Channing Tatum dancing in a sailor suit! George Clooney forgetting his lines on the set of a war epic! Tilda Swinton as a Hedda Hooper-type! Is that not enough for you? If not, the Hail, Caesar! has every thing else you'd want from a Coen brothers comedy. There's spot-on classic accents, a kidnapping and a robust cast that's almost too good to be true. All I know is based on this trailer, I want to see this movie ASAP, please and thank you.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’
At this time last year we only had one thrilling, yet brief look at Episode VII. Then came 2015, or the year of non-stop Star Wars marketing that, by this point, has given us multiple TV spots, international trailers, photos and so much more leading up to the impending release of The Force Awakens. But it was the first official trailer that really sparked the anticipation. We got a ton of new footage of Finn facing off with Kylo Ren, Rey and Finn finally meeting Han Solo, some more insight on Poe Dameron, more Chewie, a ton more action sequences, and the most exciting bit,
Princess General Leia hugging Han. Mega Star Wars fan or not, if this didn’t get you even a little excited for the biggest cinematic event of the past decade, then you must not like movies. 2
Mad Max: Fury Road topped our list of best trailers last year, but it’s safe to say the second trailer from this year is even better. The opening 20 seconds are like a frantic adrenaline shot as we follow Tom Hardy‘s Max out of the Citadel while he’s chased by crazed War Boys. That would suffice perfectly well as a teaser, and certainly guarantee ticket sales, but oh no, it doesn’t stop there. Instead of just giving us a little taste of the totally bonkers action that comprises George Miller’s film, the trailer amps up the crazy to maximum velocity, showcasing all the madness. Trucks flipping in the desert, bodies flying between racing cars, Charlize Theron‘s Furiosa head-butting, Max chained to the front of a vehicle. This is the type of trailer you shout excited expletives at during in the theater, or hell, even at home. It’s so damn good the trailer itself should win an award.
The first trailer for The Revenant is such a fantastic showcase of filmmaking that it could exist solely as a short film. It opens with an unnerving calm that’s quickly disturbed by bursts of violence. Screams and dialogue are muffled as the score’s erratic drums and sounds of heavy breathing build to a heart-racing climax of horse chases and a bear attack. With less than two lines of dialogue, the trailer reveals very little about The Revenant, which works for a film where atmosphere goes hand-in-hand with storytelling. The trailer is intense, breathtakingly gorgeous and shows just enough of Leonardo DiCaprio’s buzzed about performance to get you excited for the film.
After all the controversy that’s surrounded Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s follow-up to Birdman, it's evident from the trailer that the crew went to extreme lengths to capture such majestic imagery in far-off locations. On one hand, the trailer is a stunning piece of filmmaking to marvel at. But it's also an accurate look at what's to come in the film: lots of violence, minimal dialogue and an intensity that will grip and shock you more than once.