I’m still trying to see everything that came out in 2013 to make my ten best movies of the year list, but I’m all set to go for my annual top trailers countdown, as I’ve spent the weekend attempting to recall which spots were the most memorable of 2013. (Only movies actually released in 2013 qualify).
I don’t think it was a particularly amazing year for trailers (or movies, for that matter), but I did come up with ten that I can call my favorites. The top three, as always, are truly great, and the rest do a lot of things right as well. Here goes, and feel free to add your own in the comments. I tried to remember everything, but chances are I forgot one or two.
The final product may have been disappointing, but the trailer for Elysium certainly made it one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Neil Blomkamp looked back in form after his District 9 hiatus, and the heavy-handed political allegory that overwhelmed the final film was mostly masked in the trailer. The headlights of Matt Damon’s mech exo-suit turning on in the darkness is one of the best trailer moments of the year.
9. Spring Breakers
If this were my ten favorite movies of the year list, Spring Breakers would be higher, but for now, I do think this trailer painted a suitably bizarre picture of the film. No, it doesn’t quite capture the sheer and utter madness of the final product, but it’s enough to make it look interesting, and now, in retrospect, makes a lot more sense once you know what the film is truly about.
8. Evil Dead
After all this time, I haven’t decided whether or not I liked the Evil Dead remake, but the trailer remains the best horror movie spot out this year. I can’t count the number of times it was shown in the theater and the entire audience simultaneously cringed when demon-girl licked a razor blade to split her tongue. I think they eventually had to end up cutting that out of the trailer.
This may be cheating a bit, to simply make one of the most intense scenes from your movie the trailer, but it was a probably the most effective spot Gravity could have crafted. Using the initial disaster where the Hubble is destroyed by debris and showing Bullock floating out into space was usually ten times as gripping as whatever full-length movie was actually following the trailer. The final film was almost two hours of that, and this little snippet got most of us hooked, making Gravity a huge hit.
6. The Bling Ring
I’m not sure how many of you actually saw this, as I don’t think it ever made it to screens outside of art theaters. The final product was just okay, but the trailer is fantastic, as any spot that uses a Sleigh Bells song usually is (even the horrific Abduction had a great trailer because of Sleigh Bells). Good song choice is everything in a trailer, and I really did love The Bling Ring’s.
5. Iron Man 3
I may not have been as gaga about Iron Man 3 as everyone else, but the Mandarin voice-overed trailer for the film was simply incredible, and it did a great job tearing down Tony Stark/Iron Man, and making him seem vulnerable and broken by the end. It’s just a well-crafted blockbuster trailer, and those are usually few and far between these days (though these next few picks did a good job as well).
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
Into Darkness remains one of my most disappointing movies of the year, with its completely nonsensical plot I’m still trying to sort out months later. But the original spot for the film introduced us to Benedict Cumberbatch’s “totally not Khan” (who totally was Khan), but managed to be a chilling, effective villain even from the trailer alone. More effective than he was in the actual movie, in fact. I also love the famous Alice Eve “echo scream” effect in this trailer (overlooking her ridiculous underwear clip).
3. Man of Steel
No one does a blockbuster trailer like Zack Snyder, and he has three separate spots for Man of Steel that were all fantastic. I couldn’t pick just one, so I featured them all, even his LOTR-scored trailer from 2012 (this list only considers movies that came out in 2013, but the trailer can have aired in 2012). I think my favorite is the final trailer which is the first one listed, but you can watch them all. Any trailer that can consistently give me the chills the way these did is worthy of a high spot on this list.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
I just now got around to seeing The Wolf of Wall Street, and I’ll have an official review up soon, but the “Black Skinhead” based trailer is far and away one of the best of the year, and was a better ad for Kanye’s Yeezus than anything else he possibly could have done himself. The trailer is the perfect match of an expert song choice and fantastic editing, and creates a tight product that easily makes the film look like one of the top picks of the year, in just two minutes. I was disappointed the final product wasn’t quite as fun or tight, but that’s a story for another day.
1. The Great Gatsby
I just realized that Leo DiCaprio is in both of my top two movies here, though I doubt he had anything to do with the creation of either trailer. Rather, this time instead of Scorsese, he’s paired with Baz Lurhmann who made The Great Gatsby look like it was going to be one of the most impressive, overblown films of the year. The Gatsby trailer doesn’t have just one great song, but two or three, and expert editing blends the modern music with the period of the film in a way only Baz Luhrmann can. Again, the final product was less than memorable, and sometimes movies work far better in three minute trailers, rather than three hour features.