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The Top 15 Best Movie Trailers Of All Time

Marketing a movie is hard. Especially when it comes to making a trailer. The art of the movie trailer is one that is rarely appreciated. Someone must edit an entire movie's general themes, imagery, and mood into 2 minutes or less. Sometimes, it's a lose-lose situation. If you show people too much of what the movie is about, people will whine that they've been spoiled the entire movie. Give people too little, and they'll have no idea what the *** to expect and just not consider it.

But some people find the perfect balance. To me, the best trailers are not only the ones that generally sum up the movie being advertised, but also the ones that work as their own stand-alone works of art, the ones that transcend the expected notion of being just a mere advertisement, and being a great piece of entertainment on its own. And we are honoring those trailers today in the top 15 best movie trailers of all time.

Note that a lot of these trailers are going to be very recent, especially considering that with the invention of the internet, it's been easier to show people trailers now than ever before, but you'll still see a wide spectrum of trailers from many different time periods, and many different genres.

So without further ado, the following previews have been approved for all audiences...

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#15: The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez, 1999)



The Blair Witch Project is probably the most simple trailer on the list. 75% of it is just a black screen set to some eerie sound design and a frightened monologue by a college student, aware of her impending doom. And while it's safe to say that it is very evocative, eerie, and haunting, the real genius is in the way the movie was marketed as "real footage". And we all bought into it. The result was not only an interesting trailer, but ingenious marketing for a relentlessly creepy movie.

#14: Red Eye (Wes Craven, 2005)



So, the trailer begins. It's kinda nice. Rachel McAdams and Cilian Murphy seem to be the stars of the film. They have some charming chemistry. They're both relatively attractive stars, the tone is very light and airy, this looks like a sweet, charming little romantic comed--uh...why does Cilian Murphy just look completely friggin' evil all of a sudden?

Pretty much a sucker punch to audience expectations, Red Eye actually convinced many people that it was supposed to be a romantic comedy for the first three-fourths of the trailer...until the ominous music kicks in. What exactly was Cilian Murphy's character? What exactly is happening to Rachel McAdams? And if something bad is happening, how the hell is she gonna get out of it when she's trapped in a god *** plane? We just had to know.

#13: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)



Yeah, yeah, yeah, considered by many to be "the greatest movie ever made" and derpy derpy doo. But how the hell do you sell to audiences your "greatest movie ever made"? Well, turns out, you don't even need to show any footage from the actual movie. Just have various people describe what they thought of Charles Foster Kane. And by golly, did it probably have people talking.

Who was Mr. Kane? Crook? Richest man in the world? Sleez? Scoundrel? Charming? You had to go to the theater and see it for yourself.

#12: A Serious Man (The Coen Brothers, 2009)



Let's face it, this trailer deserves to be on the list just for the fact that the background music partly consists of Michael Stuhlbarg's head being banged against a chalkboard alone. The way the beat of that (literal) head banging just brings a rhythm to the on-going insanity that is shown on screen is just brilliantly executed, it escalates and escalates in a pulse-pounding way, and to top it all off, it ends with Jefferson Airplane. Granted, it was hard to tell what the movie was going to be about from that trailer, but viewers who accepted the mystery (c wat i did thar?) were in for one of the Coen brothers' best films.

#11: The Strangers (Bryan Bertino, 2008)




I'm just going to get this out of the way: The Strangers is a really bad movie. It's perplexing that a movie with such an emphasis on slow-build and atmosphere could end up being so un-scary and stupid. But thankfully, the guys in the marketing department knew how to play to the movie's strengths (unlike the director, strangely). Both of the trailers for this film were very well done in their own little ways.

The first trailer, depicting from the killer's POV how they pick which house to invade is clever and well-done, while the second trailer's use of a broken record brought a lot of much-needed atmosphere and tension to an otherwise unscary movie.

Both of them, are better than the actual movie they're advertising, and that's a feat in and of itself.

#10: Pi (Darren Aronofsky, 1998)



I've said this many, many times before, and I shall say it again: Darren Aronofsky makes freaking intense movies. And his trailers are no exception. One important factor in Aronofsky's focus on single-minded obsession and insanity has been Clint Mansell's awesome music for each of his films, and Pi was the first exposure to the dynamic duo. Everything from the quick editing, the black and white visual palette, to Mansell's insanely fast-paced score, comes together in a gratifyingly pulse-pounding minute and a half.

#9: Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)



The same can be said for this trailer, except now with the added appeal of every heterosexual male in America being teased by the images of Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman going at each other, and some astoundingly creepy "metamorphosis" imagery that made people just say out loud, "What The *** is happening to her."

#8: The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)



Brilliant in its simplicity, all you knew about this movie just looking at the trailer was that it was based on one of Stephen King's best books, it was being made by the master himself, Stanley Kubrick, that it attracted big names such as Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, and that there would be ALOT of blood in the movie. Also complemented by nerve-shakingly eerie music.

#7: Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)



The same can be said for this trailer, but upped to a more extreme fashion. Everything from the slow reveal of the title to the bone-chilling sound design, is executed beautifully thanks to fantastic editing, all closing with quite possibly the best tagline in movie history. A classic trailer, for a classic film.

#6: A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)



Is it possible to reveal the entire movie and yet, at the same time, not reveal anything at all. That's what ends up being accomplished with the trailer for Kubrick's controversial masterpiece A Clockwork Orange. A smorgasboard of disturbing and alluring images and adjectives describing the madness being advertised set to a quirky and surreal rendition of Rossini's William Tell Overture all done in so-fast-you'll-miss-it-if-you-blink pacing. Probably the most unique of the trailers in the list.

#5: Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008)



If you thought that the marketing to The Blair Witch Project was ingenious, you haven't seen jack-*** yet. The hype that this trailer induced was so insurmountably insane that it almost made the movie look bad in comparison. A mockumentary take on a rather simple twenty-something *** party celebrating the farewell of a young man named Rob that quickly turns into a run for survival when a monster is unleashed upon New York City (natch). And the most tantalizing part of this already tantalizing trailer, the film-makers didn't even ***' care that they didn't have a title for the movie yet, so they released the trailer with no title, making the buzz that much more heightened.

Makes sense that it didn't end up living up to many people's expectations considering that it was JJ Abrams produced, A-OH!!!

(Disclaimer: I actually like Cloverfield and LOST and am well aware that what I just did is considered by many to be a cheap-shot. Thank you, and good night.)

#4: The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)



The guys who made Fight Club and The West Wing are teaming up to make a movie based on the founding of Facebook? And with music from the lead of Nine Inch Nails? This has to be some sort of a joke!! Lunacy, I say!!!

...is what many people said when they heard of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's upcoming project, and is what many people began to shut up about when they saw this brilliant trailer.

Opening with enigmatic shots of people's Facebook activity, then masterfully editing together Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's invention of the site, and the chaos that came out of it.

To me, my favorite trailers are the ones that have fantastic use of music (And we'll get to more of that in a bit) and the use of the Scala choir's rendition of Radiohead's song Creep was used brilliantly, as it not only fit with Zuckerberg's (or any computer nerd's) anti-social mindset, but was also just generally felt incredibly moody, and beautifully atmospheric, and surprisingly really sad. You can look at last half of the trailer and almost mistake it for Requiem for a Dream Part II it's that powerful.

#3: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)




This is another one of those cases of the trailer (Or trailers, in this case) being infinitely better than the movie that it's advertising. While I am one of the few people who actually liked The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, even in spite of its ridiculously long running length, it just doesn't even compare to both of the brilliant trailers that were used for this film.

The first one, the teaser, was definitely mysterious. It was basically a series of images of the titular Benjamin Button's life set to a haunting use of The Aquarium, a movement of Carnival of Animals. It captured a mood that was simultaneously beautiful and eerie.

Then the theatrical trailer released, shedding more light to the plot. Hell, it revealed so much of the plot that it almost felt like a short film, and if it was a short film, I'd certainly give it the best accolades a short film can receive. The way all of these moments of Button's life are cut together, accompanied with heart-wrenchingly beautiful music just feels so rich and full of promise, that it's a shame that the actual movie unfortunately doesn't even come close to living up to it.

#2: The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)



The most recent movie on the list, so recent, in fact, that as of the time of this writing, it hasn't even released yet, and already it's one of the most beautiful looking films of all time.

Terrence Malick's films are of few words but are poetic in its use of imagery. Unfortunately, the trailers for his films haven't come close to representing that amazing quality, until now.

What this movie is about, we aren't fully aware of yet. We know that it's about a young boy who loses his innocence due to a bad relationship with his father, and how now, as an adult, he wishes to find reconciliation and meaning in his life. And if that's what the plot is supposed to be, then what's with the ethereal images of asteroids, eclipses, and supernovas?

Malick's imagery is at it's peak form in this trailer. The film hasn't even come out yet and this looks to be his most beautiful film to date. What little dialogue we get from the trailer is achingly haunting and poetic and the use of Smentana's The Moldau and Patrick Cassidy's Funeral March are just perfect.

It's a trailer so breathtaking, that it practically already guarantees that the movie it's promoting will be just that: Breathtaking.

#1: Where The Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)



Probably the pinnacle of movie trailers, everything you could possibly want out of one is in it. Director Spike Jonze's imagery is beautiful, it wrings out every single general idea and emotion without outright saying anything, and the use of music (In this case, being Wake Up by Arcade Fire) is simply just too perfect to comprehend. And while Where The Wild Things Are is also a great family movie (Which is a rarity in this generation if you were to exclude Pixar), it too has Benjamin Button syndrome in that even if it was the greatest movie of all time, it couldn't even live up to this trailer.

And especially if you read the story as you were a kid, the nostalgia of seeing the images of the books come to life in a respectable and artful way in stark contrast to other stupid children's book adaptations (*** you Cat in the Hat) is enough to shed tears of joy.

And don't even get me started on the use of Arcade Fire or I'm going to break down in front of all of you.

In short, it's everything good trailers are made of, put into a blender, and smothered all over Natalie Portman's naked body......I...I'm sorry, I really like Natalie Portman.

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So yeah. That's my list. I'm pretty sure you guys have your own favorite trailers, and if you do, give us a link in the comments section. And if you disagree or agree with anything on the list, that's another great excuse to leave a comment. How nice of you all.

That is all.

See ya next time. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to mark the date. The Tree of Life is just a month away...

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