As many other sites have pointed out in their best-of lists, trailers have become a huge part of the way we discuss and dissect films today. Between the film fans and enthusiasts’ hunger for the earliest look at their most anticipated future releases – while staying away from spoilers – and the general audiences looking to be wooed to trek to the cinemas as opposed to just staying at home with Netflix; trailer making (and film marketing in general) is undeniably a tricky and fascinating balancing act between many different imperatives.
Studios and agencies have to, at the same time, do anything they can to get the public at large to spend their hard-earned cash on everything from Marvel’s latest to Sundance and other festival darlings, while preserving the experience and accurately representing what audiences are actually in for. Out of the 300-plus pieces released in 2017, the following ten trailers – in this movie fan’s opinion – manage to accomplish all of that and more.
10. Professor Marston & The Wonder Women – Trailer 1 (Annapurna In-House)
It’s the most minimalistic tease of the lot, if not of the year – only offering a tagline, a single shot and a website address. But that’s all Annapurna Pictures needed to tap into the zeitgeist surrounding this summer’s release of Wonder Woman, and tease out the story behind the iconic superhero, by playing this at screenings of Parry Jenkins’s film.
9. Thor: Ragnarok – Trailer 1 (mOcean)
Marvel’s first proper teaser trailer in years, this debut look at Taika Waititi’s wonderful next chapter of Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) journey nails the tone of the film to come. With an incredibly inspired music choice of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song – which also plays a major part in the film’s soundscape – mOcean’s tease lets audiences know exactly what they’re in for without giving away much of the story, and wisely saves the big-screen return of the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) until the very end.
8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Trailer 2 (agency unknown)
While many have raved about the extended red-band first look at Martin McDonagh’s latest, it is this new look – laser focused at Frances McDormand’s loaded performance and framed around a great low-key moment which encapsulates the film as a whole – which leaves a great impression of what the film ultimately is about.
7. Kong: Skull Island – Trailer 3 (The Refinery)
Likely the most kinetic of the lot, The Refinery’s final trailer for Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s monster adventure is directly inspired by the similarly propulsive teaser for The Handmaiden, and manages to marry that approach with the film’s swashbuckling tone and soundtrack – while of course showing off the might of the titular beast.
6. It Comes At Night – Trailer 1 (AV Squad)
A24 has always delivered some of the best trailers and pieces of marketing every year, and 2017 is no question. The first look at Trey Edward Shults’s It Comes At Night is a masterclass in building tension and letting the unsettling visuals speak for themselves.
5. Detroit – For Your Consideration Trailer (Annapurna In-House)
Changing up the intensity and violence of the first theatrical looks at Kathryn Bigelow’s latest for something different, the under-seen awards-season piece is likely one of the most poignant trailers of the year. Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’, while not featuring in the film itself, is an incredibly powerful central foundation, which provides a perfect counterpoint and emotional backing to Bigelow’s unflinching retelling of the terrifying events of the Algiers Motel incident and the surrounding riots.
4. mother! – Trailers 1 & 2 (Buddha Jones)
they showed this in cinemas only front of DUNKIRK… pic.twitter.com/WpJb39Jf62
— Anton Volkov (@antovolk) 12 September 2017
(teaser 1 via Trailerloop)
Last year we featured La La Land‘s paired teasers on our list, but this case is a bit different as they’re essentially two versions of the same trailer. Paramount’s rollout of these made-for-the-big-screen pieces with Dunkirk and Detroit built up the suspense and intrigue surrounding Darren Aronofsky’s (for better or worse) insane piece of cinema, while intensifying the online community’s and the Jennifer Lawrence fanbase’s hunger for something to drop online. The main and likely only selling points are the cast and director – and the studio takes full advantage of that here, making the (literal) names the focus while keeping everything else in the background: which in turn keeps the mystery surrounding the film alive.
Deadpool 2 The Untitled Deadpool Sequel – Trailer 1 (Big Picture & mOcean)
While we would have wanted to feature that amazing No Good Deed concept piece which played with Logan earlier this year, it was released before a frame of David Leitch’s sequel was even shot. This one, however, is the best of both worlds – a hilarious original piece with an on-point Bob Ross parody from Ryan Reynolds, with the first footage from the film itself squeezed in. And on top of that, Fox had the courage to release this to cinemas and online as the first official trailer. What’s the plot? No idea. All we need to know is – Deadpool is back, so are his friends – this speaks to the power of the brand.
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Trailer 1 (Disney In-House & AV Squad)
This may have been criticised for being too similar to the equivalent teaser the studio released for The Force Awakens, but this is a trailer one keeps coming back to again and again. Like great teasers should, this really lets the images speak for themselves while exercising just the right amount of restraint – with the minimal dialogue, the score (that Force Theme rearrangement over the title!) and the powerful overall execution really bringing it home. For the crowd at Star Wars Celebration where it premiered, and those seeing it on the big screen with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it’s the perfect first look.
1. Dunkirk – Trailer 3 (Ignition)
A Christopher Nolan film always appears to bring out the absolute best from the various agencies and teams. The main theatrical trailer for the famed director’s take on the war genre perfectly encapsulates what we see in the final film – the triptych narrative, the constant rising tension, the score directly echoing Hans Zimmer’s stellar work for the film itself. They key is presenting and recontextualising all this as a selling point, and this piece does so with precision, without ultimately showing a lot that previous trailers and the IMAX prologue haven’t already revealed. It’s an incredibly powerful final look at Nolan’s latest, a sight to behold on the big screen, and – for this movie fan – the best trailer of 2017.
What are your favourite trailers of the year? Do you agree or disagree with our picks? Let us know!