The 10 Most Provocative Trailers of 2016
These trailers made us want to see the movies.
The movie marketing game is changing quickly. As companies lean on social media and alternative "guerilla" marketing stunts, we are in danger of losing one of the only forms of advertisement that people still actually seem to enjoy: trailers.
Compared to the rest of 2016, the year in trailers has been incredibly tame; there weren't many that seemed to stand out. (It's kind of incredible that Batman vs. Superman actually had footage remaining for the feature that wasn't used in ads.) However, a few managed to separate themselves from the pack. Check them out below.
10. Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad was bad. The 26% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes makes that a fact. But, man, did this marketing team deliver a series of some of the coolest, most misleading trailers in the history of theatrical advertising. Just how good did the trailer make the movie look? Enough that the film made $133,682,248 its opening weekend.
Ever since we got our first peek at the hype trailer at Comic-Con 2015, there was newfound hope that DC would finally come around to deliver a hyper-stylized, edgy, more comedic installment to a franchise desperately in need of (yet another) rehaul. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Fortunately, you can watch the trailer over and over again—for free—and have more fun than you would seeing whatever DC puts out next.
9. T2: Trainspotting
What makes this trailer so great (once you get past the whole "shares a name with Terminator 2" bit) is how accurately it captures the feel of the original Trainspotting within the confines of two minutes of footage. The nostalgia here is palpable. Ewan McGregor's voiceover dominates a '90s Brit synth pop score as he launches into a familiar diatribe on humanity's need to ignore distractions and live life to the fullest. The frenetic pacing and dream-like imagery seem to have been directly lifted from the film's predecessor. There's even a shot of McGregor in the room where he once encountered a creepy ceiling baby.
Especially with the way this year has gone, 1996 is now a distant memory. But while certain protagonists may have called it quits on heroin use, plenty more routes to addiction have popped up over the past two decades. We're excited to see how Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge incorporate our modern addiction—technology—into their sequel.
Logan breaks the mold of comic book trailers. In fact, the trailer plays more like a new indie than the umpteenth iteration of an X-Men movie. Based on this trailer, it looks like we're in store for a serious R-rated gut-punch of a flick; apparently, this is what happens when you give a minimalist aesthetic to an enormous tent-pole of a franchise. We hope Logan will stay true to the gritty nature of its previews, and that Hugh Jackman's last effort as the Wolverine will turn out to be his best.
The trailer for one of this year's best movies plays out like a masterful short film in and of itself. The indie distributor A24 has put out some great previews in its short marketing history, and this is no exception. What may be most successful about the trailer is how it alternates between the three eras of its protagonist's life as deftly as its source material. It also justifiably serves as a showcase for some of the cinematographer's most visually striking compositions. While the actors' performances and voiceover play strongly in the foreground, we nearly found ourselves waiting for a "shot by James Laxton" credit to pop up prior to the title card.
In today's movie hype game, a single film can have up to 15 trailers prior to its release date. We're sure at some point Christopher Nolan's epic new war drama Dunkirk will have at least have 10. But that doesn't detract from the fact that this is probably the best tease in a year that's seen its fair share of teasers (see Rogue One and Suicide Squad above).
Nolan is certainly no stranger to the art of the tease—this is the man who once decided to air the first 10 minutes of The Dark Knight prior to select theatrical screenings. Today, he did it again with an extended preview of Dunkirk at Rogue One IMAX screenings. (Interstellar's first teaser had its audience in awe as well.) The open-ended nature of the Dunkirk preview and its theoretical themes left audiences salivating at the prospects of a hard sci-fi follow up to Inception. Inception, of course, was one of the buzziest movies of all time.
5. Get Out
Next up: the most underrated trailer of the year. With one of the most unorthodox premises for any upcoming release in 2017, the Get Out trailer quickly went viral earlier this year in a particularly contentious climate concerning race relations within the United States.
Get Out certainly isn't your run-of-the-mill horror film. Written and directed by Jordan Peele of Key & Peele and Keanu fame, it follows a young black man who visits his white girlfriend's affluent family for the first time. It's a great example of how a screenwriter or director can bend genre to fill many different needs with one film. It takes on a hot-button political issue by infusing humor with classic horror tropes to depict a struggle between race and class that many of us may not have experienced firsthand. Needless to say, we're excited to see how this one turns out.
4. The Handmaiden
Unsurprisingly, one of this year's most exciting and sensual films also has the most exciting and sensual trailer. The intensely voyeuristic quality of this preview remains true to the kinky world Chan-wook Park has crafted in the feature. The pulsing soundtrack and rapid-fire imagery are reminiscent of Park's most cherished work, Oldboy.
3. Swiss Army Man
When we first heard about Swiss Army Man and its farting corpses at Sundance this year, we were like, "What the f***?" Then, we saw this trailer and were like, "What the f***?" again.
We thought we knew what we were in for, but it turns out the buzz we heard at Sundance was nothing compared to some of the insane events that take place in this initial preview (though the farting corpse thing was certainly confirmed). Let's make a list of all the crazy things that happen in this trailer and then imagine pitching them as ideas to a studio exec for a movie: Man might hang himself, farting corpse, corpse talks, corpse becomes a water fountain, corpse is used as rocket launcher, corpse is used as some sort of machine gun, corpse is used as an axe, Paul Dano in drag, a fart is lit to escape a bear, and Dano rides Daniel Radcliffe like a dolphin into the sea.
If none of those images serve to at least get you interested in a movie, then there must be something wrong with you.
2. Thor 3: Ragnarok
It seems like Marvel has wisely come to terms with the fact that the best part about Chris Hemsworth's Thor character is his unabashed stupidity when it comes to living like a modern human. We can confidently say that with What We Do in the Shadows director Taika Waititi at the helm, Thor 3 will take a step past the atrocity that was Thor 2 and move into a more personal, comedic realm—for the god of thunder.
Thankfully, this teaser reminds us of some of Waititi's best work. (Thor's roommate Daryl plays almost exactly the same role as the computer-tech friend Stu in Shadows.) It remains to be seen if the entire film will embrace this mockumentary format (highly unlikely), but this is an encouraging development from a Marvel universe that's grown somewhat stale.
1. The Last of Us: Part II
Woah! Just like everything else in 2016, bet you didn't see that one coming!
Now, we know what you're thinking: the number one trailer on a film publication's end-of-year list is for a video game? Well, the truth is, not one of the trailers for any of the upcoming movies above looks like it will touch the level of artistry Naughty Dog unleashed on the world with The Last of Us Part II trailer. (Though the Logan trailer looks like it heavily borrows from it.)
If you aren't familiar with The Last of Us, the 2013 post-apocalyptic shooter is about as close to a cinematic experience as a video game can get. Widely heralded as one of the greatest video games ever released, it follows the journey of the only living survivor of a zombie bite and a man who lost his daughter earlier in the pandemic. They make their way across the country to a mysterious group of scientists and rebels known only as the Fireflies in an attempt to find a vaccine for the disease that has destroyed the world as they know it. It's impeccably voice-acted, masterfully written, and with a new 4K restoration, its aesthetic is even more beautiful than ever. Needless to say, we'd love to see more movies like The Last of Us.