Monsters and Critics Twenty Trailers of the Decade

As we have now reached the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we take time to reflect and look back on some of the memorable movie trailers that got movie going audiences optimistic, intrigued and excited over the past ten years.

As the movie trailer man of M&C I have added trailers to this site for the past five years. Over that time I've viewed many thousands of trailers so selecting a twenty that have stood out from the last ten years was always going to be difficult. To assist with my selection I enlisted the help of the trailer enthusiasts on the
Movie-List Trailers forum who gratefully forwarded me several shortlists of their own. Through that help and from my own opinion as a 'trailer enthusiast' I have selected 20 of what I believe to be the outstanding and most memorable trailers of the noughties (2000s).

A movie trailer is a tool used by studio's to bring you the audience in to theatres to watch their movies. A great trailer doesn't always mean a great film of course, in fact more often than not the expectation level created by a trailer leads to a film not living up to the promise made by the preview. This makes the movie trailer a hugely powerful tool, giving them the capability to seperate you from your hard earnt cash.

The importance of the movie trailer has grown more so in the past ten years. With high-speed internet available for most to use, audiences can watch their first previews of films online rather than in theatres. People want more and more from the trailers they watch, they want to know if the film is worth their money or not. A poor trailer for a good film could easily lead to audiences dismissing the film before they have seen it.

Many factors go into the selection of the 20 trailers. I have not selected trailers just because I thought the film they are promoting was good, I tried to block that from my mind and merit the trailers themselves on their own quality and wow factor. What is it that makes a standout trailer? A good soundtrack, gripping dialogue (often one liners), showcasing key movie points without giving too much away, originality, significance and the edit all help in making a quality trailer.

The trailers ambition is to separate you from your money so here are a few that have successfully done just that. Some thankfully and some regrettably.

20. Superman Returns, Warner Bros. Pictures 2006, Teaser Trailer

The teaser trailer for 'Superman Returns' was released in 2005 many months before the films summer 2006 release. The short and subtle teaser trailer marked the return of Superman after a twenty year gap and left audiences wanting to see more. The trailer is a throwback to the 1978 Christopher Reeve film, using the Marlon Brando voiceover throughout to great effect. However when the film was released it was received as a mix bag, with some people wishing maybe that Superman hadn't returned so soon.

19. Red Eye, DreamWorks SKG, 2005, Trailer

The theatrical trailer for Wes Craven's horror 'Red Eye' is genius as for the most part you believe you are watching a trailer for a romantic comedy. With the use of light music, quotes and footage from the opening quarter of the film it produces a conventional like trailer for a rom-com and then in the final moment turns it on its head with a shock twist.

18. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Warner Bros. Pictures, 2007, Teaser Trailer

The superb teaser trailer for the critically acclaimed Andrew Dominik film 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' needed a place in the top 20. The melancholy feel of the trailer created by its soundtrack, beautiful cinematography, voiceover and dialogue does a brilliant job in reflecting the films haunting bleak tone.

17. The Passion of the Christ, Icon Productions, 2004, Trailer

The event the film tackles, of Jesus' final days is one the most well known stories of the past 2000 years and the powerful trailer for Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' added a new dimension of realism to it. The trailer promises a gritty and realistic portrayal of the Jesus crucifixion unlike anything ever shown before. Slow motion used throughout highlighting key film moments of brutality and an effective soundtrack make this strong trailer one that is hard to forget.

16. The Strangers, Rogue Pictures, 2008, Teaser Trailer

This terrifying teaser trailer for Bryan Bertino's 'The Strangers' is worth a mention amongst the twenty. When I first saw this trailer it really got my heart racing. The key to this short 1 minute teaser is that it shows little of the film, but what it does show is truly horrifying. The horrible idea of house intrusion is something people can relate to as it could happen to anyone, and this trailer plays on that human fear impeccably. Having seen the film itself though, I have to say I probably got more scares from the trailer than I did the entire film. You may beg to differ.

15. Little Children, New Line Cinema, 2006, Trailer

The trailer for Todd Field's Oscar nominated picture 'Little Children' is a fantastic example of quality sound design in trailers. The trailer starts with the sound of distant train over calm and quaint images. As the sound of the train becomes more clear and louder the images in the trailer begin to intensify until eventually reaching a climax of a two childrens toy trains colliding with each other. The trailer is a great illustration of sound design and imagery.

14. Kill Bill Volume 1, Miramax Films, 2003, Teaser Trailer

The teaser trailer for 'Kill Bill: Volume 1' marked the return of Quentin Tarantino after a six year gap from his previous film. The bold trailer doesn't hold back, it is quite clear even without the inclusion of the tagline "The 4th Film from Quentin Tarantino" that you are watching Tarantino's handy work. The beats of the awesome Tomoyasu Hotei soundtrack are inter-cut with knife slashing and all sorts to super effect. A seriously 'cool' movie trailer.

13. Pearl Harbor, Touchstone Pictures, 2001, Trailer

Michael Bay and Pearl Harbor are two names you would not have expected to say together, but the unexpected certainly does happen in Hollywood and In 2001 Michael Bay unleashed on the world his 'Pearl Harbor'. The three hour long epic was widely received negatively by the critics and public alike but that didn't stop it from taking in nearly half a billion worldwide. I would say a lot of that is to thank for the hugely emotive trailer for the film. Epic images of love/war along with a beautiful piece of music by Steve Jablonsky and an inspiring speech from Jon Voight's Franklin D. Roosevelt makes the trailer a powerful experience.

12. Black Hawk Down, Revolution Studios, 2001, Trailer

The next trailer on the list is for another war movie, this however being for a much better film in my opinion, Ridley Scott's 'Black Hawk Down'. The hard hitting trailer has everything you could want from a trailer. A great visual feast, emotive dialogue, one liners, and fitting music from Moby and Handel. The trailer won a fully deserved 'Golden Trailer' award in 2002 for excellence in drama trailers.

11. Cloverfield, Paramount Pictures, 2008, Teaser Trailer

Much mystery surrounded the J. J. Abramís produced film 'Cloverfield' before its release. When this teaser trailer was released in 2007 it didn't have a title just a release date. For a period time before the late announcement of the films title it was being dubbed as '01-01-08', which being the release date shown in place of a title at the end of the teaser trailer. This less than two minute teaser trailer made an impression on me, as it showed just enough to intrigue and make me wonder what the hell it was all about. If a trailer can do that, then it has done it's job very well.

10. Spider-Man, Columbia Pictures, 2002, Original Pulled Teaser Trailer

'Spider-Man' is a franchise that has flourished over the past decade with three mega blockbuster films released during the period grossing over $2 billion dollars worldwide. The world got their first real look at big screen 'Spider-Man' in the summer 2001 with this teaser trailer. The trailer however was pulled due to the tragic events of 9/11. One of the key moments in the trailer was of a helicopter caught in a spider web between the two world trade centre buildings. While at the time of the trailers release these images were breathtaking, after the 9/11 they became haunting.

The trailer itself is unconventional in the way that it is essentially an edited cut scene from the movie, followed by a quick montage of the web slinger himself. At first the trailer gives the impression of being a crime thriller, but the moment Spider-Man appears towards the end of the trailer you realise it is something else entirely. I can recall originally seeing the trailer in theatres and finding it 'extremely awesome'.

9. Atonement, Working Title, 2007, Teaser Trailer

A trailer that really stood out for in recent years was the emotive teaser trailer for Joe Wright's second world war drama 'Atonement' starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightly. The trailer opens to the sound of typing fluently blended with a piano piece over images of the courting of the two main characters. As the trailer shows the two characters being unwilling forced apart it moves into a montage of various important moments from the film accompanied by an emotionally driven and sombre piece of music. This mixture of sound and visuals in the trailer gives it all a rather fitting tragic feel.

8. 300, Warner Bros. Pictures, 2007, Teaser Trailer

Released in the summer of 2006, the teaser trailer for '300' promised a testosterone driven all out action epic and it never let up in that promise. The action packed teaser trailer is also what you could call the ultimate 'one liner' trailer. Dialogue such as "This is Sparta!" and "Spartans... Tonight we dine in hell" became instantly associated to the '300' film even before its theatrical release. The advertising campaign surrounding '300' was such a success that the relatively small budget ($65 million) epic went on to gross close to half a billion worldwide.

7. Femme Fatale, Epsilon Motion Pictures, 2002, Trailer

Teaser trailer for Brian De Palma's 'Femme Fatale' gets a worthy mention in the list down to its inventiveness and originality. The trailer is basically the whole film sped up to last just 2 minutes with the odd addition of dialogue. The trailer ends with the quotes "You just watched Brian de Palma's new film. You didn't get it? Try again...". Unfortunately for the studio audiences didn't as the film barely grossed $15 million worldwide.

6. Unbreakable, Touchstone Pictures, 2000, Trailer

After the huge success of 'The Sixth Sense', M. Night Shyamalan returned with his next film 'Unbreakable'. Here is a trailer that does not rely heavily on the edit, but on the atmospheric nature of individual scenes from the movie. The trailer revolves around a scene in which a softly spoken doctor speaks to Bruce Willis's character telling him that he is the only survivor of a train crash and that he has survived without a scratch on his body. This then a original concept mixed with high pitched echoed sounds creates an extremely haunting trailer experience that is likely to give you the goosebumps.

5. Garden State, Camelot Pictures, 2004, Teaser Trailer

The wonderful and beautiful teaser trailer for Zach Braff's 'Garden State' showcases not an ounce of dialogue, yet fully mesmerises the viewer with its captivating soundtrack from 'Frou Frou' over images of a Zach Braff's character watching the hustle and bustle of life pass him by. A highly original and memorable trailer.

4. Sin City, Dimension Films, 2005, Trailer

Set to the fantastic music of 'The Servant', the black and white imagery of Frank Millers 'Sin City', attacked by blotches of other colours is a visual feast for the eyes over the period of this two minute trailer. While you may get used to the unique style of the 'Sin City' when you watch the full film, in trailer form it is totally refreshing. With seemingly interesting characters, a unique style and a great soundtrack this trailer sold me instantly.

3. Comedian, Miramax Films, 2002, Teaser Trailer

Number 3 on the list is a trailer that does not include any of the cast or footage from the actual film it is advertising. It is for Jerry Seinfields 'The Comedian', and the only reason you know Jerry Seinfield is involved is because it credit's him towards the end of the teaser. Anyway watch it for yourself, one of the funniest and most original trailers I have seen.

2. There Will Be Blood, Miramax Films, 2007, Trailer

The bold and brilliant trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's 'There Will Be Blood' focus's almost exclusively on the superbly powerful tour de force performance of Daniel Day-Lewis. It is a trailer that does not try to sell the film as something else, it does not attempt to make 'There Will Be Blood' seems like a conventional picture. It takes a less safe unconventional route, featuring a soundtrack of chilling screeching string instruments and concentrating solely on the films central performance. The Chicago Tribune desribed the final image from the trailer of Day-Lewis character laughing as "more chilling than anything in Sweeny Todd".

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, New Line Cinema, 2001, Teaser Trailer

"One ring to Rule Them All... One ring to find them... One ring to bring all... and in the darkness bind them"

Those instantly recognisable words opened the teaser trailer for Peter Jackson's magnificent adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkiens 'The Lord of the Rings'. The epic teaser trailer for the trilogy sent fans of Tolkiens much loved books and moviegoers alike into jubilation near the beginning of the decade. Released a whole year before the first instalment "The Fellowship of the Ring" the trailer gave a short glimpse at the scale of the film and the characters. With the help of a voiceover and the epic 'Gothic Power' musical piece, the trailer showcased grand armies, mystical creatures, hobbits, and sword wielding on scale unseen before. The superb final extended shot from the trailer revealing the fellowship for the first time accompanied by the titles and releases for each of the 3 films marked the films impressive arrival. The movies went on to earn 17 Academy awards and become the highest grossing trilogy in movie history.

Feel free to comment on the list and post your own favourites.

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