You watched it on multiplex and on your phone, movie trailers are an art form unto themselves. I always get down to theater early to check out the upcoming attractions. This year’s best promos weren’t always for the best films — sometimes they were for future movies that we haven’t seen yet and sometimes the clips did an excellent job generating anticipation and excitement for movies that turned out to be less-than-stellar. Check out the best and the worst of trailers we have seen in the year 2016.
One of horror cinema’s oldest and most offensive clichés is that African-American characters are often the first to die. So there’s something bracing about the racialized spin on familiar imagery offered by this terrifying trailer for writer-director Jordan Peele’s 2017 thriller. With mounting insanity, it promises a racism-inflected spin on The Stepford Wives.
Seth Rogen’s animated adventure was notable for its R-rated sexual humor — of which there is plenty in its red-band trailer. Nonetheless, the best part about this advertisement is the way it suddenly segues from cheery-and-uplifting territory to outright horror-movie terrain.
All that glitters is gruesome in the first trailer for Nicolas Winding Refn’s fashion-industry horror-show, which sells its familiar conceit — a young model (Elle Fanning) comes to L.A. in search of industry stardom — with a bevy of hypnotic sights, all of which become more disturbing as the promo builds to its crazed crescendo.
Damien Chazelle’s Oscar contender is a lush, vibrant musical romance. Its first trailer conveys a pitch-perfect sense of its mood via a collection of spoiler-free color-coded clips (scored to star Ryan Gosling’s ballad “City of Stars”) that exude old-Hollywood glamor and fantasy.
10 Cloverfield Lane’s clip is a work of beautiful misdirection, with its cheery domestic snapshots and upbeat “I Think We’re Alone Now” soundtrack slowly devolving into a collage of bewildering sights and sounds that first suggest its protagonists are prisoners of John Goodman’s father figure — and then imply that they’re all actually underground for more monstrous reasons.
David Ayer’s DC Comics-based blockbuster was a clumsily edited mess of ill-fitting parts and ideas. Which means it didn’t come close to fulfilling the promise of its initial “Bohemian Rhapsody”-scored trailer, which makes the film look like it’ll be a bad-as-they-wanna-be romp full of colorful villains behaving badly. It even makes Jared Leto’s Joker look tolerable.
Revealing nothing about the movie’s twisty plot, the trailer for South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden relies on the director’s peerlessly beautiful and haunting imagery of prim-and-proper manor-house residents doing increasingly deviant things. It ends with a shot of someone closing a peephole, even as its intensely edited montage makes one want to see more.
Set to an urgent orchestral theme, the trailer for Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed drama beautifully cross-cuts between its story’s three phases, all of which concern a man named Chiron trying to overcome the many coming-of-age obstacles in his way. It’s a sumptuous trailer that nails the film’s lyricism.
Johnny Cash’s stripped-down cover of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt” serves as fitting accompaniment to this stellar tease of Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Marvel’s Wolverine. Here, he appears to be a broken man struggling to survive a bleak post-apocalypse world and looking for any measure of redemption.
Echoing the film’s fractured chronology and poetic style, the trailer for Pablo Larrain’s Jackie Kennedy biopic makes the film’s unconventional intentions clear, including its up-close-and-personal focus on star Natalie Portman as the former First Lady. With “Camelot” playing mournfully over its action, it evokes everything about Larrain’s film — its aesthetics, its tone, its beauty, its horror, its intimacy — with striking gracefulness.
Kevin Spacey is a workaholic dad trapped in the body of a cat — a premise almost as lame as the juvenile gags and horrid CGI featured in this run-for-your-life trailer.
Will Smith’s morose ad exec is visited by the embodiments of Death, Love and Time in this corny trailer, which somehow manages to make the film look terrible without even hinting at the story’s many (equally awful) twists.
The trailer for this sequel to Tim Burton’s hit is a case of truth in advertising — the film is as ugly, cacophonous, and downright unpleasant as this collection of CGI-crazy sequences.
There’s nothing particularly exciting or romantic about the first trailer for Passengers, which seems to assume that audiences will crave it simply because of its two headliners (Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt). At least it’s smart enough to avoid spoiling its creepy central surprise.