With Christmas now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to return our focus to the Best of 2017. And as always, we close the year with the Top Ten Best Trailers of 2017. As always, we will look at the trailers that spoiled as little as possible, that piqued our interest, and introduced us to films that we weren’t necessarily anticipating. Look no further than the trailers for Moonlight and Jackie. And while some of those trailers eventually go on to become Valerian or Free Fire, some go on to become Logan and Dunkirk, two of the biggest and best films of the year.
This year was a bit odd, for while the films themselves have mostly been outstanding, the trailers themselves have been a bit lackluster. Still, that just means the trailers that stand out end up really standing out. Just look at the Honorable Mentions. Star Wars: The Last Jedi promised us salt planets colored red bearing flanks of AT-AT Walkers. I, Tonya promised a vulgar, intriguing take on one of American pop culture’s most controversial figures. Phantom Thread looks like it will be an intriguing romantic thriller, while mother! sold us a contained, creepy thriller (which hell no it wasn’t, even if I still liked it). A Ghost Story basically provided proof of concept, while Okja lured us in with its subtle charm. Meanwhile, the trailer for It actually proved better than the movie, providing arguably the best horror film of the year. And I’m really sad that the second trailer for The Beguiled made the list, as it made me excited for the film long before it ever came out. So with that established, it’s time for the greatest advertisements of the year.
10. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Killing of a Sacred Deer was far and away the most f*cked up movie of the year. It was a dark, twisted morality tale in the best possible ways. And I think people knew what to expect from the minute Yorgos Lanthimos released a trailer for his most recent shock-fest. Scored to an acapella, eerie rendition of Ellie Goulding’s “Burn,” as sung in the film by Raffey Cassidy, the trailer slowly layers this song with eerie violins, creating a claustrophobic, freaky emotion. The imagery creates a horrific feeling of helplessness, watching the horrors that befall the family, and the fear in Nicole Kidman’s eyes. The trailer expertly conveys the nature of the film without giving away any of the plot or the truly shocking moments, and it served as the final push for me to see Lanthimos’ film (which I gave an A-), and which you should see as well.
9. The Disaster Artist
Look, it’s no secret that I love The Room. It’s one of the worst movies ever made, and yet the charm and endearing mystery of Tommy Wiseau’s wholehearted attempts make the film an instant classic, for better or worse. So when James Franco announced he was making a movie about the making of the Citizen Kane of bad movies, I was instantly onboard. So much so it was on my most anticipated list for three years straight (it’s been in the can for a while now), to the point I didn’t think it would ever come out. And then we got the trailer. Actually, we got three perfect trailers, each providing something that captured the spiritual nature of the film. I loved each trailer like it was a beloved child, but it was the first one that truly managed to bring in an audience for the film, showing the ineptitude of the film as well as Franco’s devoted performance as Wiseau himself. The trailer is simply a portrayal of the 70 takes it took for Wiseau to execute one of the most infamous scenes in film history (“I did not hit her. Is not true. Is bullsh*t. I did not hit her. I did naht. Oh hai, Mark”). The trailer shows us the absurdity, the devotion, and the insanity of the making of this film, and it completely prepared us for Franco’s Oscar-contending role. This is a great trailer for a great film.
8. Black Panther
“The revolution will not be televised” declares the second, better trailer for Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther. And indeed, it will not be: it will storm the cinema, finally providing the world with an African-American superhero, flanked by a team of badass African-American women serving as his military. However, this trailer would be fine if it was just your average superhero flick except with minority heroes (think Spider-Man: Homecoming), but it is so much more than that. It is an ultra-stylized, ultra-cool tour-de-force by the man who managed to revitalize the Rocky series, filled with futuristic imagery, nods to the Blaxploitation movement, and an all-around cool aesthetic. This is the Shaft of superhero movies, the king of cool and the emphasis of tough, and the trailer never fails to deliver on the excitement. This is one of the coolest looking superhero films ever, and I can’t wait to see what Coogler delivers on February 16th.
7. Thor: Ragnarok
On the other end of the Marvel spectrum, Thor: Ragnarok! While Panther aims for cool aesthetics and awesome setpieces, Taika Waititi went with a different approach: a spoof of Marvel movies. It’s pretty clear that we’re in for something different when the trailer begins with a spoof of the “Oh, hi. I suppose you’re wondering how I found myself in this situation. Well, it’s kind of a funny story” trope. From there, things don’t get any different, as “The Immigrant Song” scores images of Chris Hemsworth losing fights to Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson playing Tessa Thompson, and Jeff Goldblum mugging for the camera. It’s like the perfect cross-section of the gays, the 20-somethings, and comedy lovers. And things only get better when the trailer builds to the promise of Thor battling the Hulk in a gladiatorial battle. But is this treated as a serious moment, or an action scene? No. Thor celebrates this, and declares that he and the Hulk are “friends from work.” It immediately sets the tone apart from the rest of the Marvel films, and along with the general aesthetic, it cemented this enjoyable romp as one of the must-sees of the year.
6. Atomic Blonde
Atomic Blonde was hands down the coolest movie of the year. Charlize Theron’s own personal answer to James Bond, it was a fun, sexy, skillful romp that won over audiences and (most) critics alike. However, it was the trailer that managed to get them in the door in the first place; more specifically, it was this meticulous, fun red band trailer that managed to do the trick. This is how you edit a f*cking trailer. It’s got everything you could ever wish for: awesome action in the opening Stairway Sequence (now famous), great one liners from Theron, John Goodman and James McAvoy, general sexiness from a well-lit Theron and Sofia Boutella, and the perfect soundtrack, between “Blue Monday” and “Killer Queen” (both perfect options, I might add). Every frame of this trailer oozes charm, charisma, and cool. But don’t take my word for it. Watch for yourself!
5. A Wrinkle In Time
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE! I’m a man of simple tastes. I like things that look impressive and push boundaries. I like things that have talented actresses. I like things that give representation to all sorts of groups. And I like a story well told. The trailer for Ava DuVernay’s long-awaited version of A Wrinkle in Time is gorgeously staged, pushing the boundaries about what we can expect from blockbusters. Set to the classic Eurythmics song “Sweet Dreams,” the trailer promises some Inception-esque world-bending, Chris Pine framed in a gorgeous prison, Zach Galifianakis being kooky, and above all, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling as goddesses, and also playing goddesses in the movie. This is everything a young movie lover could possibly enjoy, all wrapped up in a pretty, intelligent package. And with DuVernay’s keen eye, I’m sure the film will make sure to do this trailer justice come March 9th.
4. The Shape of Water
No one was really expecting much from Guillermo del Toro with his new film The Shape of Water. Since Pan’s Labyrinth, he had only made one good movie, and it bombed (Crimson Peak, for the record). It was destined to fall by the wayside, overlooked as yet another whimsically creepy mediocrity. And then the trailer came out. And it became the biggest hit of the year. And from that moment on, it rode a wave of goodwill that led to it being an Oscar contender. And it makes sense: this is a gorgeous, well put-together trailer. It captures the mundanity of life seen before Elisa meets the creature. Once this occurs, the trailer slowly reveals the romantic nature of the film, as well as the creepy nature of Michael Shannon. We see a rundown of the film’s main beats without spoiling the best scenes, allowing the themes to burrow into the audience’s mind. However, in the trailer’s most brilliant decision, it chooses to build to the best line of the film: in response to the argument that the creature “isn’t even human,” and thus doesn’t require their salvation, the mute Elisa signs back “If we do nothing, then neither are we!” It’s a powerful moment of a powerful scene, and one that made this one of the best films, and best trailers, of the year.
3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Several months ago, I saw a trailer. It was the trailer for a film that no one was talking about, but was written by one of my favorite playwrights/screenwriters of all time. It was titled Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and the trailer truly won me over. The trailer promised a graphic, vulgar look at the current American landscape as a heartbroken mother went to war with a town that had turned its back on her. In the trailer, we get National Treasure Frances McDormand kicking teens in the nether regions indiscriminately, drilling holes in assh*le dentists, and getting in fights with “f*ckhead” Barney Fife-detectives, as played by Sam Rockwell. However, it was the final scene of the trailer, where McDormand unleashes the most beautiful string of profanity I’ve ever heard at a newswoman, that I was sold. I’ve actually seen the movie, and I don’t think it quite lives up to the trailer, but the film is now a frontrunner for Best Picture, and as you can see from this trailer, it has a decent show.
2. Lady Bird
Sometimes a trailer comes along that just manages to check off all the boxes. So was the case with Lady Bird, a film with a trailer so perfect it managed to capture the heart of the film without ever giving away anything. You can really understand the entire film from the first few moments of the trailer, showing Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf locked in a perpetual argument, exchanging barbs and insults, culminating in Ronan overdramatically throwing herself from the car to end the conversation. From their, the trailer tells us exactly what we can expect from the film: the comical, tragic, and all-around human experiences of a girl coming of age. We get to experience the humorous exchanges she shares with her mother, the fights and flings she has with the boys in her life, and make snarky comments to the friends she’s fighting with, like the great one-liner about her friend’s mother’s breast enhancement (“She made one bad decision when she was nineteen!” “Two bad decisions!”) The trailer promises one of the funniest and most realistic teen movies of all time, and even if the film didn’t deliver (which it most certainly did), it was still one of the best trailers of the year.
1. The Florida Project
The trailer for The Florida Project was as magical as the so-called Kingdom a few miles away from motel our heroes dwelled in. It managed to convey the sense of beauty, nostalgia, and familial love that Sean Baker wove into his American extravaganza. Each shot in this trailer is like a painting, not unlike the film itself, and it manages to highlight each and every detail that made this film special: the gorgeous production design, the sense of childlike wonder that Moonee possesses, and the phenomenal performances of breakout star Brooklyn Prince and veteran actor Willem Dafoe, both of whom could take home Oscars based on this trailer alone. At the time this trailer was released, I said that I hadn’t seen a trailer this good since Moonlight. And while I’m not sure that this film will go on to win the Oscar in two months, it’s still a great film, and I’m still positive that this is the best trailer I saw this year.
I hope you enjoyed this list of the greatest trailers of 2017! Next week we’ll look forward to 2018 before looking back at the actual Best of the Year, so don’t go anywhere; this is gonna get good!