It’s time once again for the Sacred Wall’s Best of 2022 coverage, this time with the art of trailer-making. Trailers are both less and more essential than ever, as this last year has proven. After all, films that barely advertised – like Babylon and The Whale – came up short at the box office. Meanwhile, films with smart, inescapable trailers – like The Woman King and Avatar: The Way of Water – became huge hits. Therefore, to reward the best advertisements this past year, not to mention their role in saving cinemas, it’s time to provide another yearly shout-out with the Best Trailers of 2022.
The rules of a great trailer are relatively simple. A great trailer should entertain and intrigue audiences, all without giving away too much of the plot. For blockbusters, great examples include Avatar, The Woman King, or Top Gun: Maverick, while great streamer trailers include Bardo, Deep Water, and Dual. See How They Run advertised the great fun to come, while Crimes of the Future properly advertised the weirdness to come. Apollo 10 ½’s trailer was delightful, Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers was hilarious, and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On advertised the heartwarming nature to come. And The Munsters’ teaser delightfully evoked the original.
As for the Honorable Mentions, three trailers came the closest to making the Top Ten. Ticket to Paradise had about as great a trailer for a typical romantic comedy as one could hope for. Babylon, meanwhile, teased at the wild debauchery to come, even if audiences really didn’t know what to expect going in. As far as horror goes, M3GAN and Skinamarink had as great of trailers as you could hope for. And Weird: The Al Yankovic Story turned the tables on what audiences expected from Daniel Radcliffe, revealing the biopic to be a parody of biopics – fulfilling the duties of a biopic of the greatest parody artist. So, with the Honorable Mentions now established, what trailers were great enough to make the cut? Let’s find out with the Top Ten Trailers of 2022.
10. Shotgun Wedding
Shotgun Wedding took the Internet by storm when it debuted, because everyone loves a heel-turn that no one could expect. What started as a cute, cheesy rom-com with a star-studded cast (Jennifer Lopez! Josh Duhamel! Jennifer Coolidge!) suddenly flips on its head when the island is invaded by pirates. Suddenly the stereotypical rom-com turns into a Die Hard parody – but still with that cast. It’s a perfectly executed reveal, and made for one of the year’s most memorable trailers. Shotgun Wedding will stream on Amazon Prime January 27, 2023.
9. The Fabelmans
Was the trailer for The Fabelmans too full of whimsy? Perhaps. Yet like the film itself, there’s significantly more leeway for Steven Spielberg’s expert use of whimsy than the Average Joe director. Spielberg’s trailer crackles with heart and emotion, plus little Easter Eggs that show the origin story to come: the nostalgia of boyhood bike rides, of seeing your first movie, and that iconic handheld movie shot. It’s purely delightful, and a worthy trailer for this Top Ten list.
8. Knock At The Cabin
M. Night Shyamalan made waves with the reveal he would be adapting Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World, a novel several readers called “the scariest book in modern memory. And when the trailer dropped – now renamed Knock at the Cabin – it did not disappoint. Shyamalan’s trailer is laced with dread, thanks to Dave Bautista’s dominating presence, Kristen Cui’s innocence, and the central performances of Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge. Hell, this trailer made Ron Weasley look terrifying! It’s an excellent trailer for a highly anticipated 2023 release. Knock at the Cabin will release in theaters on February 3, 2023.
7. Bones And All
The original teaser trailer for Bones and All kind of released with a thud. It just didn’t tell audiences enough about the film – and not in a smart mystery way. The second trailer, however, which started secretly playing in theaters before premiering online, elicited much more in terms of word-of-mouth and excitement. It starts off innocently enough – two girls at a sleepover, maybe with romantic/sexual undertones – before Taylor Russell proceeds to bite the girl’s finger off. It doesn’t let up from there, and the reveal of a sweaty, swooning Timothée Chalamet and a dread-inducing Mark Rylance just add to the tonal poetry. It’s a great trailer for one of the year’s greatest films.
6. Bullet Train
It should have been a warning sign that the Bullet Train was so fun: it seemed too good to be true. The trailer seemed to have everything. Its great ensemble includes a droll Sandra Bullock, cocky duo Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and a humorously against-type silly Brad Pitt. The comedic setpieces included a fight in a quiet car, characters falling out windows, and Pitt performing pratfalls. And it was all perfectly synced to an upbeat remix of “Stayin’ Alive.” The trailer had an energy the film just couldn’t deliver on, but at least we had the joy present every time Bullet Train’s teaser graced the screen before movies.
The first teaser trailer for TÁR, before anyone knew it was an Oscar contender, somehow goes the full circle during its runtime, from interesting to insanely terrible back to stunning once again. Instead of telling audiences anything about the movie, the trailer involved Todd Field waxing philosophic about the nature of religion, art, and life in the wake of the pandemic while Cate Blanchett unleashes smoke directly into the camera. The trailer has nothing to do with the film – the Blanchett smoking image isn’t even an aspect of the movie. And perhaps this mystery is why the film ended up flopping at the box office. But while it failed to get audiences into seats, it did elicit conversation every time it screened. And for that reason, it has to be considered one of the year’s best trailers.
There’s a real argument to be made that Smile had the best trailer of 2022. No one knew this film existed in May, three months before it released. But that all changed when an unannounced, theaters-only trailer premiered in front of Top Gun: Maverick – a film that went on to make $1.3 billion and dominate the box office. And what a trailer it was. It fully leaned into its own silliness while amplifying the discomfort the creepy smiles elicit. It’s a simple, short scene, yet sticks with you even as the title’s appearance seemingly lets all the air out of the balloon. Sadly, that original teaser was theaters-only, and therefore isn’t online. But you can watch the equally terrifying version right here – and trust me when I say the final button is great to see with a crowd.
3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
I could go on and on about how significant Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s first trailer was. How it helped the world make peace with Chadwick Boseman’s passing and so on. But ultimately, that’s only a small part of why the teaser trailer for Wakanda Forever was so brilliant. Mostly, it had to do with the execution. From the jump, it addresses the elephant in the room, with haunting visuals of the characters mourning Boseman’s T’Challa, set to “No Woman, No Cry.” But, just as the trailer begins to incorporate Ryan Coogler’s incredible stylistic direction, Kendrick’s “Alright” kicks in, establishing that we can move past the tragedy. And as the songs blend together, the trailer cresendos itself. It is masterful, put audiences at ease, and promised audiences one of the year’s best films.
2. Three Thousand Years of Longing
Three Thousand Years of Longing is a big swing, and obviously was never going to be able to tackle all its massive ideas. Yet even if George Miller’s grandiose treatise on storytelling and love wasn’t a masterpiece, its trailer certainly was. From Tom Holkenborg’s trippy soundscape to the imagery – Idris Elba’s Djinn, the fantastical fantasy realms, the picturesque arrangement of rooms full of buxom concubines – every element sold the film on exactly what it was: a modern fairy tale from one of cinema’s greatest working directors. While the film mostly delivered on the grandiosity – albeit in a messier way than expected – it also found itself confronting the legacy of its first, spectacular trailer.
Who would have guessed that two weeks before the year’s end, Barbie would come along with a surprise teaser ahead of Avatar: The Way of Water and turn everything on its head? I certainly didn’t. But here we are: with Greta Gerwig turning in one of the most creative, most impressive trailers of all time…for Barbie. From its 2001 homage to the ultra-camp nature of the colorful sequences of Ryan Gosling and Simu Liu to Margot Robbie’s stunning debut as the famous doll, every moment of this trailer is perfect. It is a sight to behold, and the best trailer of 2022. Barbie will be in theaters July 21, 2023.
Well, that wraps our look at the Best Trailers of 2022! I’ll likely put a bow on my Most Anticipated list in the coming days for you all, to tide you over until my Best TV/Best Movies lists go live. In the meantime, comment below with some of your favorite trailers from the last year. I’ll see you all again soon.