A movie trailer is a very risky thing. The best ones are light on plot and heavy on atmosphere, and thankfully we got a handful of trailers this year which took that mantra to heart. Of course some of the year’s best films also had the year’s best trailers (there’s a reason “Moonlight” became everyone’s most anticipated indie back in August), but in a few cases we got trailers that were so amazing they set the bar just a little too high (here’s looking at you, “The Neon Demon”).
As our year in review coverage continues, we decided to pick the 12 most memorable trailers of 2016. Below are the trailers that stood out and the ones we find ourselves drawn back to watching over and over, even if we’ve already seen the movie.
Fox Searchlight capitalized on strong awards buzz out of the fall festivals with this evocative teaser that guaranteed Pablo Larrain and Natalie Portman had something daring up their sleeves. With the menacing chords of Mica Levi’s score overpowering Richard Burton’s Broadway hit “Camelot” (a personal favorite of the Kennedy’s), the teaser is selling something far more psychological than your run-of-the-mill biopic.
“Moonlight” Trailer (A24)
This debut “Moonlight” trailer was so perfect and overwhelmingly powerful that distributor A24 never dropped another. The film wasn’t the most high profile fall release when the video
premiered in early August, but it provided a first look that sent buzz into overdrive (the editing manages to build an entire life of regret into two minutes). The trailer, combined with the film’s glowing Telluride premiere just weeks later, sent “Moonlight” into the Oscar race with confidence.
“La La Land” Teaser – “City Of Stars” (Summit/Lionsgate)
Over a month before “La La Land” became a festival darling at Venice, Lionsgate dropped this gorgeous teaser that we still find ourselves watching over and over again. Set to Ryan Gosling’s smooth vocals on “City Of Stars,” the clip introduced Damien Chazelle’s Technicolor musical throwback like the cinephile dream it is (credit all those fades from one eye-popping set to another). You can just feel the chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling simmering underneath.
“The Handmaiden” Trailer (Amazon/Magnolia)
It only makes sense that Park Chan-wook’s “The Handmaiden” has the year’s most seductively thrilling trailer. With a pulsating beat and provocative imagery, the official trailer has a movement to it that’s hard to resist and even harder to forget. Magnolia added breathy exhales to turn up the erotic factor, and it works tremendously.
“The Eyes Of My Mother” Trailer (Magnet Releasing)
The year’s most grisly indie gets the kind of trailer that buries deep under your skin and sends a haunting chill up your spine. From the gruesome imagery to the discordant chords of the music, the trailer brings terrifying elegance to some implied graphic violence. It’s enough to make you sick to your stomach.
“Sausage Party” Red Band Trailer (Sony Pictures)
The art of the punchline is delivered with gut-punching hilarity in this red band trailer for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s “Sausage Party.” The clip essentially builds to a moment when all the happy PG vibes descend into hardcore R-rated madness. Watching animated hot dogs curse never gets old.
“American Honey” Trailer (A24)
Andrea Arnold’s acclaimed road movie is all about the trip, not the destination, so while this official trailer seemingly covers a lot of the movie’s story ground, it expertly delivers the kind of freedom and liberating spontaneity that makes the film one of the year’s best. Credit the visual poetry overflowing in every frame and a soundtrack that captures the heart of young adult recklessness.
“The Neon Demon” Trailer (Amazon/Broad Green)
Sometimes the trailer is even better then the movie, and that might be the case with Nicolas Winding Refn’s model horror film. A dreamy descent into beautiful chaos, the trailer is the perfect slice of Refn’s jaw-dropping visuals and Cliff Martinez’s seductive synth score. The movie is overkill, but the trailer is arthouse horror perfection.
“The Alchemist Cookbook” Trailer (Oscilloscope)
An isolated man living in the backwoods of Grand Rapids, Michigan conjures an ancient demon, and the result is an indie that defies expectations at every turn. It’s only fitting the trailer do the same, and the official clip for “The Alchemist Cookbook” is weird and wonderful and hilarious and insane and just completely original. It also makes a great case for how to successfully add critic quotes to your trailer.
“A Cure For Wellness” Trailer (20th Century Fox)
You don’t necessarily stop what you’re doing and run to go see a new Gore Verbinksi movie, that is unless it has a trailer like “A Cure For Wellness.” We have no idea what’s going on here (especially with those weird swimming tanks and those eels), but it’s all so gorgeously messed up that we can’t resist. When it comes to first impressions, this trailer makes the best kind.
“Get Out” Trailer (Blumhouse)
The year’s most “what-the-hell-is-happening?” trailer belongs to Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Get Out.” We knew the comedian was making a Blumhouse movie, but we did NOT expect it to be this twisted and this charged with commentary on race relations. Just getting across the premise alone makes this trailer a winner, but it’s the effective transition from “something feels off” to “holy hell” that makes it special. One viewing is all we needed to get ourselves a ticket.
“Evolution” (IFC Midnight)
The year’s wildest coming-of-age movie is an ambiguous blend of French arthouse cinema and David Cronenberg body horror, and the trailer sells that vision with evocative imagery and editing. This sort of feels like the indie cousin to “A Cure For Wellness,” in that it’s hard to grasp the terrifying details of what’s happening, yet it’s impossible to look away.
Terrence Malick in IMAX. What else needs to be said?