Now that I've discussed in varying degrees of seriousness my five least favorite trailers of 2012, I thought it was only appropriate to post my five favorite trailers of the year, which if you ask me was one of the better years for trailers that I can remember. One point of note: in this list I am referring to very specific trailers of the films I have listed, no teasers or lazy TV spots will be found here. I linked to the specific trailer I'm referring to with each one, so check out the links I have posted.
#5: Zero Dark Thirty
Ever climbing the charts on my most anticipated list, this trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Best Picture winning The Hurt Locker is heart-racing, hard-boiled, sleek and bad-ass. Starting off with a great piece of dialogue near the beginning about the dire straits the CIA was in during their hunt for Bin-Laden, we see a few shots a few shots of Jessica Chastain, who is the lead in the film but is ingeniously is not heard speaking anywhere in this trailer, giving her an air of mystery to play in the viewer’s mind while they wait on pins and needles for the film to be released (Just me??).
#4: The Dark Knight Rises
This is the first of two trailers on my list that feature Anne Hathaway, yet still somehow made my list. My love of Nolan’s Batman trilogy is well-documented around these parts, so it probably comes as no surprise that the trailer for this film would end up on my list. My anticipation for the film was obviously quite high before it was released, but that aside, this is actually a very well-executed trailer. The ominous, faint piano accents from Hans Zimmer accompanying the shots of various acts of terrorism by Bane give us a feeling of general discomfort, and this leads into Bruce Wayne’s capture and torture. We don’t know if or when he is coming back.
“Hope is Lost,” but then the bass line drops in Zimmer’s music as we see a shot of Catwoman riding out on to the streets of Gotham under gorgeous green lighting (at 1:19), and then everything begins boiling up to an emotional peak that is undeniably well-executed. For such a mainstream franchise, this trailer is a level of artistic achievement not normally expected. Well done, Warner Bros.
#3: Les Miserables
The second trailer on my list featuring Anne Hathaway! I don’t know how this happened! (Why do I hate Anne Hathaway?)
In all honesty though, this is a pretty great trailer. Accompanied by Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream,” the trailer introduces us to all the various characters of this beloved musical, and gives us a preview of the gorgeous cinematography, production design, and other craftsmanship we can expect to see on Christmas Day when the film is released. Many cinephiles dismiss director Tom Hooper’s odd use of his camera, but to me some of the shots we see here are pretty irresistible, from the tracking shot of the children running toward the camera at 0:17, to the shot on the ceiling at 0:23, to the floor level angle of Jackman in the church at 0:28.
There is a subsequent trailer which displayed the singing of some of the other actors like Jackman, Crowe, Redmayne and Seyfriend, but to me I really enjoy this first trailer’s focus on Hathaway’s song, which really sets the emotional and thematic stage for what we can expect in the film. Very moving.
#2: The Master
Everyone’s probably tired of me talking about The Master, but this is probably the last time I’ll bring it up, at least until my Top 10 Films of 2012 column comes along. The story of this particular trailer is very interesting to me, simply because a lot of the shots and dialogue we see here didn’t even make it to the final cut of the film (for instance, the scene in the jail cell where Joaquin Phoenix shouts “just tell me something that’s true!”).
The snippets of various beautiful on-location shots, the sleek late 1940’s aesthetic, the general malaise due to Johnny Greenwood’s amazing original music, and an excellent preview of Joaquin Phoenix’s craziness and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s manipulation all add up to an excellent piece of work here.
One of the biggest disparities for me ever between how I felt about a trailer versus the actual movie was Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the reach-for-the-stars intergalactic summer blockbuster which sought to deliver an interesting theory about the origins of life on planet earth, but really only delivered a beautiful looking pile of horse crap. The trailer, however, featured unique and gorgeous photography, and was constructed so well that I was naïve to all of the many problems the film ended up having. Here’s a breakdown of how great the trailer was compared to the film:
In the Trailer: References to mythology and archaeology that promised some sort of revelatory thoughts on the originations of life on earth.
In the Film: Nothing even remotely revelatory about anything.
In the Trailer: The pulsating, tension-building screeching sound that made me want to watch the trailer over and over.
In the Film: Exactly one character that isn’t one-dimensional.
In the Trailer: Some shots of Noomi Rapace looking like a legit action star.
In the Film: Perhaps the worst performance of Charlize Theron’s career.
In the Trailer: Logan Marshall Green with a small speaking part.
In the Film: Logan Marshall Green with way too big of a speaking part.
In the Trailer: Some seriously stunning quick-cut editing in the final 30 seconds that made every male between the ages of 12-40 foam at the mouth a little bit.
In the Film: Characters doing things so incomprehensible that even cliché horror films wouldn’t even make their characters do.