Continuing our look back at the best of film in 2016, we highlight another underappreciated art form: movie trailers. Editing together footage from an incomplete film to portray what that film will be and doing it without revealing too much information is quite the task. The best trailers not only get you excited for the end product, but are also entertaining and engaging in their own right. Many of the best have great musical choices, show off some of the best shots of the film and are cut together in an innovative and interesting way. Not all trailers are great, as they often are just mish-mashes of footage from the movie that are basically just screaming, “We know you’re going to give us your money, so here’s some of the film!” Below, are the trailers from 2016 that we felt went above and beyond to become more than just marketing tools, but real works of art in their own right.
— Joe —
As with some of my other picks you will see, what makes this trailer great all starts with the music. Not only is “Soul’s On Fire” by Anthony Hamilton a great toe-tapping song for any trailer, but for this particular movie, it could not be more perfect. Barry is all about the college years of future President Barack Obama and the conflict he felt being both white, black and from many different places. At times in the film, he feels as though his soul is literally on fire and we see the conflict both within himself and around him during the course of this trailer. Add to that some absolutely gorgeous shots throughout, including an absolutely iconic ending shot of a young Obama silhouetted against a purple sky smoking a cigarette, and you have a great trailer.
11. Hail Caesar!
— Sam —
The Coen Brothers’ filmography is quite varied. Out of all of their films my favorite is O Brother, Where Art Though and the trailer to Hail Caesar! completely reminded me of the vibe of that movie. This trailer does a lot of things right. Like many trailers it is a pretty rapid viewing of many scenes from the film with some pauses to linger on funny lines or other specifics from the film. The rapid fire sections of the trailer are perfectly paired with the song ”Rumble and Sway” by Jamie N Commons. This song not only drives these scenes along but it also sounds somewhat reminiscent of the music from the era that the movie is set. This trailer also makes sure to prominently show off the names of its ridiculously stacked cast which just gets the viewer even more excited for what is to come in this quirky film.
10. Swiss Army Man
— Joe —
The trailer for this film sold so many people on checking it out including myself. It presents all the weird the film has to offer, backed by an incredibly uplifting song and absolutely stunning photography. They didn’t over-think the marketing on this one. It is the Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse movie, so they used the song from the film and showed us Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse. And it was glorious and surprisingly heartwarming.
9. The Nice Guys
— Sam —
The first thing that stuck out to me in the trailer for The Nice Guys was the choice of music and the usage of that music throughout. The soundtrack for the trailer, as with the finished movie, perfectly sets the tone for a wacky adventure in the late 70s. They also at times sync ends of notes or ends of phrases to punches and other action in the trailer which helps to accentuate those moments really well. This trailer also does a great job of setting out the personalities of its main characters without using up every funny line from the actual movie. Until I saw this trailer I never knew how much the world needed a Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe buddy cop movie.
— Joe —
This trailer is about as perfect as a trailer can get and it all starts with the music. The closing song of the musical Camelot accompanies the first part of the trailer as we see Jackie happy and enthralled by the wonders of being First Lady. Then with a push in shot on a cellist, we get the first notes of a much darker song that overwhelms the first as we see her life literally crumbling in front of our eyes. Combine all this with incredible shots that recreate actual footage from that time period and you have a trailer that has done its job in spades. After I saw it the first time, I was saying, “Please, take my money!”
— Sam —
I love this trailer because it starts off looking like your normal run of the mill superhero movie. It tells us that Wade has cancer and is going to get treatment so that he can be with the woman he loves. Then as he’s being wheeled off to get the treatment that is supposed to turn him into a superhero he breaks the fourth wall and asks them not to make the super suit green. From this point on the trailer is jammed packed with all the best parts of Deadpool: Insane jumps, epic pistol and gun wielding, and of course snarky comments right in the midst of battle. We also get some great dialogue between Deadpool and the minor characters of Weasel and Blind Al. The last element that perfectly combines all these insane pieces is the use of the song “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” by DMX played throughout most of the trailer. What a great trailer to come out of the gate with and get fans pumped for the film!