The Greatest Movie Trailer of All Time?

by Evan Sawdey

28 January 2011

There are movie trailers, sure, and there are those clips that go just a little bit further, starting to become little bits of art in their own right.

We’ve all seen movie trailers—we’ve seen them all the time.  Sometimes they’re boring, sometimes they’re painful, and sometimes they get us interested in that next big film that we absolutely must see.  There’s a way to do these things, and in modern times, trailers have become damn near formulaic.

However, there is a very, very select batch of trailers that go one step further: they expertly play with our expectations, offer completely new ways to look at a forthcoming film, and sometimes feature no actual footage from the film itself.

It is for this reason that I am submitting to you, dear reader, three utterly spectacular movie trailers that are a cut above the rest.  Sometimes these trailers have more of a lasting impact than the films themselves—yet are there even better ones than this?
Let’s start with the trailer for Wes Craven’s 2005 B-movie Red Eye starring Cilian Murphy & Rachel McAdams.  Although the film was decent enough (especailly once you accept it as a B-movie), the trailer was brilliant, starting off as the trailer for every romantic comedy film you’ve ever seen, before its brilliant, expertly-timed twist ...

The following year, director Todd Field returned from his too-long hiatus after In the Bedroom to unleash the gripping suburban drama Little Children, which featured Oscar-nominated turns from both Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley.  The trailer, however, was a Master Class in film editing, using brilliant cross-cuts, a minimal use of dialogue, and the unnerving sound of an approaching train to build to a powerful, dramatic climax.


Last but not least, 2002’s Jerry Seinfeld documentary Comedian was a film that ultimately fell short of its potential, contrasting Seinfeld’s attempt to revive his stand-up life with the work of another young comic who came off as more arrogant than he was talented.  That said, neither appear anywhere in the film’s brilliant lead-up trailer, which—instead of featuring any clips from the actual film—features movie voiceover staple Hal Douglas in the role of a lifetime.


So how about it readers?  Do these trailers still hold up all these years laters?  What other trailers have truly gone above and beyond to stand the test of time?  (And, most importantly, will they ever be better than The Apple?)

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