2023 is in the rearview mirror now as the holiday season creeps upon us, meaning it’s time for the oh-so-fun season of year-end lists. While there will undoubtedly be dozens of lists commemorating the best movies of the year, it’s important to note a smaller yet essential sort of video: the movie trailer.
A good movie trailer is composed of a lot of things, but the biggest aspect of a successful trailer is one that accentuates the hype of a movie while not spoiling the film itself. A trailer that spoils a movie’s entire plot is the worst. It’s also the worst, though, when a trailer leaves you so in the dark about the movie that a viewer feels no interest in the film itself. It’s a delicate balance that only a few of the best trailers really smash it out of the park.
As the year comes to a close, let’s take a look back at the ten best movie trailers of the year.
There are many trailers that could have taken this final spot on the list, but I’m gonna give it to Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City. Anderson’s latest film is an insular and emotional film jam-packed with layers of intricacy. The official trailer for the film scratches the surface of that emotion but doesn’t go so far as to reveal much anything about the movie and its themes.
All it does is set the stage for another classical Anderson adventure. It says: here are the (many) actors in this film, here is the setting and general happenings of this film, and here is a hefty dose of whimsy to get Anderson fans excited about the auteur’s newest outing. While the Asteroid City trailer might not be a blood-pumping experience like some other installments on this list, it’s nonetheless a well-crafted trailer that serves its outstanding movie well.
Godzilla Minus One might be the biggest surprise of the year. The Japanese movie from director Takashi Yamazaki has been doing very well at the international box office thanks in large part to the quality of the movie. It’s been garnering wide acclaim from critics and fans all over the globe, resulting in widespread word-of-mouth.
That being said, though, the movie’s trailer is also a sight to behold. Godzilla Minus One is a monument of scale and blockbuster filmmaking, an awe-inducing monster movie that functions thematically as a wartime melodrama. The trailer perfectly captures the jaw-dropping visual filmmaking while hinting at the film’s emotional core.
The Iron Claw trailer gives viewers a little bit of everything. Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White rocking 1980’s hairdos? Check. Familial drama? Check. Images of men violently throwing each other around a wrestling ring? Check! The upcoming A24 movie tells the true story of the Von Erich brothers, who made history in the world of competitive world of international wrestling.
The trailer took social media by storm and resulted in a substantial amount of hype for the drama, surely thanks in large part to Efron and White’s bulging biceps. Not many people were talking about The Iron Claw before this trailer dropped, and it’s easy to see why there’s a palpable excitement for the movie now.
No 2023 list would be complete without mentioning Greta Gerwig’s cultural phenomenon. Barbie, as well as Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, defined this year at the movies. The “Barbenheimer” craze swept the nation — and the world — for months on end. The amount of anticipation and hype for Barbie, in particular, is hard to underestimate. The movie’s trailer had a lot on its shoulders, but it absolutely delivered.
With Dua Lipa’s Dance the Night serving as the trailer’s soundtrack, the Barbie trailer finally introduced fans to what exactly this movie is even about — other than the classic Mattel toy, of course. The trailer introduced fans to the wonderful imagery of the movie that would later become iconic, such as the opening shot in which Barbie steps out of her heels yet doesn’t change her foot shape. Barbie is wonderful, and it’s trailer serves as a whimsical introduction to the movie’s pink-tastic world.
The John Wick franchise has become a phenomenon unlike any other, and the hype for the series’ fourth installment was already through the roof before this final trailer dropped. After all, anyone who has seen a John Wick movie knows what they are getting themselves into. That being said, the final trailer for John Wick: Chapter 4 did what was seemingly impossible: it increased the hype even further.
If someone was scared that the new movie would fail to up the action after the insanity of John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, those fears were quelled with this trailer. It has Keanu Reeves on a horse. It has evil goons bouncing off of cars underneath the Arc de Triomphe. It has a shotgun that shoots fire bullets. It has a killer song overlaid on top of the action. John Wick: Chapter 4 has everything, and it’s trailer is utterly electric.
Finally, the apes are back. The recently-released teaser trailer for 2024’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a beautiful and blood-pumping reintroduction to the planet of the apes. It’s been six years since 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes concluded the saga of Andy Serkis’ Caesar, a Moses-type savior who saved the apes from destruction and led them into a new era. Now, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes looks to further Caesar’s story.
The legacy trilogy doesn’t have a bad film, and it’s easy to see why fans would be excited to see what’s next. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes‘ first trailer utilizes breathtaking visuals and an intense score to reintroduce fans to the franchise while teasing what is to come. It doesn’t reveal much about the movie’s plot, but it doesn’t have to. The sheer wonder and excitement that stems from the trailer’s visuals is enough to set expectations high for the new film.
The first trailer for Martin Scorsese’s newest film is a masterclass in making an effective movie trailer. It makes the movie, a three-hour historical epic drama, look and feel as intense as a mega-budget action movie. The score for the trailer is immensely effective in setting up the intensity of the story, and the rest of the trailer’s aesthetics are geared towards enhancing that intensity. It doesn’t reveal a lot about the movie’s plot, instead opting to introduce viewers to the movie’s overarching context.
This is an American story of greed turned violent, a manipulative tale of cowardice and evil. Yet at the heart of it lies the Osage, a peaceful people who just want to live on their land and not have to worry for their lives at every waking moment. Killers of the Flower Moon is monumental, and it’s trailer is magnificent.
Oh, what a lovely day. Furiosa won’t hit theaters until May of 2024, but it’s trailer has already started upping the anticipation for George Miller’s latest. A prequel to 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa looks to reintroduce viewers to the insanity that is the world of Mad Max. Fury Road is one of the greatest action movies ever made, a movie that is essentially one singular chase filled with enough explosions, gasoline, and madness to satiate any action fan’s craziest sensibilities.
Miller is key to the success of the films, as his directorial touch in crafting beautiful mayhem is nearly impossible to match. With the Furiosa trailer, fans once more got a sense of what insanity is to come. More explosions, more crazy characters, and more madness. Furiosa couldn’t come any sooner.
Mission: Impossible has never failed in upping the ante. That says a lot for a series that has seen Tom Cruise hang out of an airplane, scale up a skyscraper, and perform a HALO jump while being filmed all the while. With Dead Reckoning Part One, Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie know what their fans want: they want to see Ethan Hunt driving off of a cliff and parachuting onto a moving train.
The first trailer for Dead Reckoning teases that exact moment as well as highlights other insane M:I antics, from a high-speed chase throughout Rome to a shootout amidst a sandstorm. The music in the trailer, too, is perfect; there might not be a more iconic theme than Mission: Impossible‘s.
Bring on the sandworms, because it’s time to return to Arrakis. The official trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two lived up to the movie’s hype, cashing in rolling hills of sand and enough high-profile actors to fulfill any cinephiles’ wildest dreams. The greatest call to fame for the movie’s official trailer is it’s choice to halt midway through and focus on a particular sequence in which Timothée Chalamet rides a sandworm.
Most trailers function almost like a montage of scenes and images from the movie, but here, the trailer gives viewers a real taste of what is to come. The sheer scale of the image is unbelievable, resulting in one of the greatest trailers ever made. It’s an absolute shame that Dune: Part Two was delayed until 2024, but at least we have this trailer to fawn over.
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