Thursday, 4 February 2010

The award for Best Trailer for a Motion Picture goes to...

Movie trailers: they can make you laugh, they can make you cry. Well, maybe not cry (that is unless the words ‘Transformers 3’ appear somewhere) but trailers can certainly make a very compelling case for themselves as an art form in their own right. They may not have an award dedicated to them at the Oscars, but here are three examples of trailers from the last year that would be in contention if they did (incidentally there is an industry award for trailers: see The Golden Trailer Awards):

Where the Wild Things Are had a superb early teaser trailer, helped in no small part by its use of an amazing song by Arcade Fire to really which really helps to invoke the spirit of the film:

Possibly my favourite of last year, A Serious Man had an amazing trailer which was a masterpiece in editing:

Finally, A Single Man, which has a very slick trailer and opens at the Duke of York's cinema from Friday 12th February. It looks stunning:

I hope you enjoyed the trailers. Please post some of your own favourites below and come back later in the week, when the latest Splendor Cinema/Duke of York's podcast will be up. It's our fourth episode and we will be looking at the Oscar nominations, picking our winners. It can't be missed!


  1. Awesome subject Beames, I love good teaser trailers accompanied by teasing film posters to fuel my anticipation!

    My favourties:

    Superman Returns (2006)
    a better film than some critics may say but watching this trailer gave/still gives me goosebumps, notably due to Williams' score!

    Batman (1989)
    would have loved to been in a cinema in 1988/89 when they showed this!

    Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
    pure comedy, great tagline!

  2. The trailer I remember most of all was for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (20something), though I think that was just because of the use of ELO's 'Mr. Blue Sky'. Choice of music in the trailer does, at least, make 'em stick in my mind.

    Incidentally, I never saw the film at the cinema.

  3. That Superman Returns trailer is really good and made me want to re-watch the film.

    Eternal Sunshine has one of the best trailers I have ever seen in my life. The music and the editing are superb. It's really hard to find the original UK trailer on YouTube, however. The three or four American ones that are on there aren't as snappily edited.

  4. Odd that when we go to see a film at the cinema one of the things we looked forward to is the "coming soon" trailers. We're always more interested in what's coming next than why we're sitting in the dark surrounded by strangers in the first place.

    It's odd because trailers are largely rubbish. They're either a short version of the film and show too much or they lie about the intention of the films to make them appeal to a larger audience than the film is intended for.

    The trailer for Gary Cooper's penultimate film "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" is long, melodramatic and shows in chronological order enough scenes from the film to make you feel you've watch it already.

    For "Stranger Than Fiction" the trailer focused on Will Ferrell's reputation as a zany funny man with a large following and so focused entirely upon the few surreal moments of humour to be found in an otherwise existentialist fiction. The result being many people may have felt they walked into the wrong picture.

    Dreamwork's tried to bring a younger audience out to watch Woody Allen's "Anything Else." But they didn't feel like showing up and as a result of the marketing neither did Allen's traditional fan base.

    Trailers don't seem to think it's there job to sell the film. It's there job to sell tickets. Film is a commercial business and trailers are the most obviously commercial part of it; they are after all the adds for the films. Therefore a successful trailer is one that the movie's backers think will persuade the most people to part with their money. Which doesn't have to mean the one that gives the truest impression of the film. They can be slick and artful but they can often tell lies.

    Perhaps there are trailers we enjoy more than the films they advertise. But that's more of a criticism of the films than high praise for the trailer. That you "managed to make something out of that pigs ear", still leaves you as the usher for the pigs ear.

  5. In support of your point, that trailers are often willfully misleading about the films they promote, it is interesting to consider the films of Kubrick. He cut together the trailers for his films himself and seemed to go completely out of his way to mislead the audience. The trailer for 2001 is the best example: it features all the "action" of the film and none of the monkeys or weird shit. I find this really facinating. He obviously had a supreme confidence in (and control over) his work, and yet he didn't feel like he could sell the film in its true form. It interests me that it isn't just trailers made by cynical marketing men that can mislead in this way. Either that or its interesting that Kubrick was such a cynical marketing man himself.

  6. For last year I'd say you nailed the best one's, the only other I really liked was the second Watchmen trailer:

    For my favourite all time trailer:

    Good topic to cover, I may do the same in the future as I've always had a fondness for trailers.

  7. My favourite trailer was the one for the fiftieth anniversary rerelease of Casablanca.

    They had a clip from the film on an area in the middle of the screen the size of a tv screen, and the voiceover said "Why watch Casablanca like this when you can see it like this?". And then the picture expanded to fill out the whole screen.