Top 10 Trailers of 2011

     December 26, 2011


A trailer usually has less than two minutes and thirty seconds to dazzle the viewer and put a movie on his or her radar.  The Internet allows studios to go beyond this theater-mandated time limit and not only run a longer trailer, but also ones that have been approved only for the emotionally mature online community.  But no matter the runtime or how many times a character can swear, the trailer still has to grab your attention.  They can sell us on a premise we didn’t know we wanted, and can find a way to make us even more excited for a movie we were already itching to see.

Hit the jump to check out my picks for Top 10 Trailers of 2011.

[Note: To be eligible for the list, the trailer had to come out this year even if the movie it’s promoting doesn’t come out until 2012]

10. The Artist

I’m not sure how you make a trailer for a silent film, and it’s not like there are a lot of examples to go by.  The Weinstein Company put together an admirable effort and while they went a little too far through the plot, it’s not like the movie is built on twists and turns.  More than anything, the trailer does a fine job selling a vibe and, like the film, telling a story without speaking.

9. Coriolanus

It’s a little funny that the trailer credits the movie as “From the Screenwriter of Gladiator and The Last Samurai” when characters are spouting Shakespearean dialogue, but it also does an excellent job of showing how Shakespeare’s plays don’t have to be contained to their original setting.  The characters are timeless and the trailer convinces the audience to take a shot on Call of Duty: Modern Shakespeare.

  • “The Beast at Our Door” by Groove Addicts
  • “It’s Here” by T.T.L

8. The Muppets

There were more than enough parody trailers for The Muppets, but this was the one that finally made me feel like we were getting a real Muppet movie.  Also, you can never go wrong having muppet chickens cluck Cee-Lo’s “Fuck You”.

7. The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Any movie that includes the line “And some of you are just a fish I dressed up in a hat,” is worth your attention.”  Throw in jolly lepers and non-decorative sea monsters, and the trailer for The Pirates! Band of Misfits makes it one of my most anticipated movies of the spring.

6. Shame

This trailer manages to convey the adult nature of the material, the stylish visuals, hint at the stellar performances, explain the central conflict, and all to Carey Mulligan‘s heartbreaking rendition of “New York, New York”.  Bravo.

5. Paranorman

I’m already a sucker for stop-motion animation, and Paranorman seems to be using the approach for a delightfully macabre family flick.  The use of Donovan‘s “Season of the Witch” is great, and I love that the trailer gives you a moment at the end to admire the design of Norman’s toothbrush.

4. 21 Jump Street (Red-Band Trailer)

This trailer accomplishes a miracle: it makes me excited for a movie starring Channing Tatum.   It doesn’t hurt that the flick is apparently going all-in as a hard-R comedy rather than try to be a tortured parody of the 1980s TV series.  There are plenty of great jokes in here, Tatum and Jonah Hill looks like they’ll play well off each other, and it looks like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have made an easy transition to live-action filmmaking.  Now the trick is to avoid further trailers so I don’t spoil any more of the jokes for myself.

3. Prometheus

The teaser trailer for Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus shows what all that “Alien-DNA” talk was about.  Not only does it feature imagery from his 1979 classic sci-fi horror film, but the teaser is brilliantly cut in the same style as the trailer for the original movie.  People who have never seen Alien watch this trailer and get excited for a sci-fi flick coming out next summer.  Alien fans watch this trailer and get chills.

  • “Judge and Jury” by Audiomachine

2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I thought this trailer would simply be a bit of Howard Shore‘s Fellowship of the Ring score, a few brief seconds of footage, and then the title.  Instead, we got a real trailer that not only helped to introduce us to new characters, but more importantly, transported us back to Middle-Earth in a heartbeat.  It’s not just seeing familiar faces and settings that make the trailer work.  It’s when we hear the instrumental version of the dwarven hymn as we sweep across a gorgeous vista that we know that Peter Jackson is bringing us back to the world we fell in love with ten years ago.

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

When I saw this trailer back in May, it instantly made me want to see the movie even though I already knew the story was no good.  Now I’ve seen the movie, I found it lacking, and this trailer still makes me want to see the flick.  It’s got the best tagline (“The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas”) and if you haven’t downloaded Trent Reznor and Karen O.’s cover of “Immigrant Song” by now, then you’ve ruined your holidays.

Monday: Top 10 Posters of 2011

Tuesday: Top 10 Trailers of 2011

Wednesday: Best Performances, Directing, and other Miscellany of 2011

Thursday: Worst 5 of 2011

Friday: Top 10 of 2011


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