What makes a great movie trailer? In 2018, the movies got their marketing groove back with previews that relied less on plot and more on selling the atmosphere and energy of a particular film. The year’s greatest movie trailers were the ones that after you watched a film you could revisit just to experience the same rush of excitement, horror, tragedy, or joy.
Below are the 10 best movie trailers of 2018, ranked.
Annapurna came out swinging with its official trailer for Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice.” The trailer benefited from featuring the first footage of Christian Bale’s eye-popping physical transformation, but it gained its strength in its rip-roaring ruthlessness. Framed around a conversation between a scheming Cheney and a dimwitted George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell), the trailer sells “Vice” as another energized spin on a traditional genre, carved straight out of the polarizing style of “The Big Short.”
9. “Under the Silver Lake”
Anyone who payed attention to A24’s marketing for David Robert Mitchell’s “Under the Silver Lake” was surely heartbroken when the studio announced it was pushing the film to 2019 (the film’s poster was also named one of IndieWire’s best). The official trailer effectively pushed you down the rabbit hole of the film’s central mystery, delivering a kind of Raymond Chandler-on-acid vibe that looked deliriously fun and just flat out delirious.
8. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” Comic-Con Trailer
Contemporary movie trailers have been appropriately criticized for using covers of old songs, but the “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” Comic-Con trailer proved you can still do this effectively. Featuring an arrangement of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” by Michael Afanasyev, the trailer matches some gorgeous VFX shots of the film’s monsters (Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, etc.) with the majestic crescendos of the music. The sad part is that the Warner Bros. release is probably not going to be the arty blockbuster beauty this first trailer suggests.
A24 has an impressive track record of cutting trailers for horror movies that are nightmares in and of themselves. The studio did it with “The Witch,” and they did it again this year with their Sundance sensation “Hereditary.” The official trailer does a fine job setting up the film’s plot, but it goes into overdrive distorting reality and delivering one horrific image after the other. The last 30 seconds are more terrifying than a majority of horror films in 2018.
“Mandy” got closer to fulfilling its destiny as a new cult classic with RLJE’s official trailer, which miraculously bottled up all the batshit insane rage of the film and packed it into two-and-a-half minutes of neon-soaked brilliance. You watch the “Mandy” trailer and slowly lose your mind, which is perhaps the best warning a moviegoer could ask for.
5. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” Official Trailer
Paramount Pictures’ official trailer for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” launched one thousand memes for the moment where Henry Cavill reloads his arms as if they are machine guns (let’s face it, they are), but let’s not overlook what an action masterpiece this two-and-a-half minute preview proves to be. Paramount brilliantly brought together all of the film’s amazing action scenes into one breathless montage (the scene where Cruise’s motorcycle slams into a moving car is more bone-crunching here than in the actual film). The “Fallout” preview has more adrenaline than most action films released this year, save for “Fallout” itself of course.
4. “Roma” Teaser Trailer
Netflix’s first trailer for Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” doesn’t even run for over two minutes but somehow manages to capture the awe-inspiring scope of the director’s vision. The streaming giant went light on plot for the teaser and prioritized Cuarón’s indelible images, instantly sending him into the Best Cinematography Oscar race. The clip is more or less a montage of gorgeous shots that quietly built and then crescendo in an explosion of emotion, which is similar to the movie’s effect.
3. “If Beale Street Could Talk” James Baldwin Teaser
The first footage from Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” debuted as part of a birthday teaser for James Baldwin, whose novel inspired the film. The trailer is bookended by scene in which Tish (KiKi Layne) musters up the strength to tell her mother (Regina King) she’s pregnant, and fills in the space in between with highs and lows of Tish’s relationship with Fonny (Stephan James). Set to audio of Baldwin speaking, the trailer packs a powerful punch.
2. “A Star Is Born” Official Trailer
June 6, 2018 will go down as the day the world fell in love with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s “A Star Is Born.” Warner Bros.’ official trailer runs under the two-and-a-half-minute mark but manages to capture the overwhelming sensation of Ally’s meteoric rise to fame. The studio took the montage approach, showing off Matthew Libatique’s gorgeous cinematography and Cooper’s grounded directing and setting it all to Cooper and Gaga’s instantly iconic “Shallow.” The trailer was so good “A Star Is Born” never had to release another official spot.
1. “Suspiria” First Trailer
A crucial plot point in Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” finds Madam Blanc (Tilda Swinton) possessing the dreams of Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson). Guadagnino directs these dream sequences as montages of unsettling imagery, which is more or less the strategy Amazon used for its highly effective first “Suspiria” trailer. Featuring Thom Yorke’s distressing original score, the teaser manages to get under your skin without giving any of the film’s secrets away. The first “Suspiria” trailer proves the power of marketing atmosphere over plot.