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Top 50 Best Trailers Of All Time

35. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

The unquestionably epic teaser trailer announcing the entirety of Peter Jackson film trilogy sent fans of professor J. R. R. Tolkien’s beloved books into bouts of euphoria not seen in an age: Finally, after decades of failed attempts, their time had come. Even those unfamiliar with Tolkien’s works could rejoice, for what the trailer really heralded was a new era in the fantasy genre after so many years in the wilderness of bare-chested made-for-TV farces. Who but a slack-jawed cave troll could not sit in awe when the titles of the three films accompanied by their release years appeared — the camera moving slowly in to reveal the fellowship for the first time, as one by one they ascend a precipice in the foothills of Caradhras!

The voice work is the only real flaw, why they did not get Christopher Lee (who plays Saruman) to do it is clearly an oversight. Not only does he have the perfect voice for the ominous opening narration but, a hardcore fan, he claims to reread the books every single year and is also apparently fluent in the black speech of Mordor. –Brandon Kim

34. The Minus Man (1999)

It’s hard to say whether this 1999 meta-trailer was a hopeful nod to the film’s edginess or a more ominous avoidance of showing us one frame of what turned out to be one of the less admired films in the Stiller/Wilson oeuvre. A couple are shown leaving a screening of “The Minus Man” at the Waverly theater in New York, already riffing on the film as they hit the sidewalk. They’re shown still talking it over in a local bar — Would you go to bed with him? What about the hair in the envelope? — and the conversation continues into the night at a diner, on the sidewalk, under a bridge and on a park bench, the idea being that this is that best kind of date movie: the one you can’t stop talking about.

Eventually the man points in wonder at a giant sunrise — they’ve been talking all night — and the woman gasps in panic before booking it in the other direction. She runs through the street, through traffic and into a building, where she rapidly gets undressed in a locker room and heads out to a pool. In her lifeguard’s bathing suit she notices two of the gym’s patrons face down in the deep end, victims, as it were, of “The Minus Man”’s brilliance. –Michelle Orange

33. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

You don’t need to see the movie it’s promoting to know when a trailer is great. Case in point: the gorgeous preview for Spike Jonze’s long-awaited “Where the Wild Things Are.” The film doesn’t open for another four months, but the trailer has been repeatedly setting our mouths agape since it debuted in March. After the months and even years of reported battles between Jonze and Warner Bros. over the film, our first look at some of the finished product made it become instantly clear that whether or not you cared about Maurice Sendak’s original book, the movie was going to be something to see.

The trailer not only gives us a good look at the Wild Things, but also the wilderness around them: Jonze told Entertainment Weekly he shot in real Australian locations to give the film a “naturalistic feel,” and in even in fleeting glimpses there’s something magical about the sight of these enormous, otherworldly creatures romping in an environment free of green screen chicanery. And whether Jonze’s movie is good or bad, masterpiece or mess or something in between, the trailer is pretty much perfect: just over two minutes of beautiful visuals, quirky hand-lettered title cards and a soaring rendition of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” that, according to MTV.com, was “re-recorded specifically for the film.” No matter how well it fits into the movie, it couldn’t be any better suited to the trailer. –Matt Singer

32. The Matrix (1999)

Never has Keanu Reeves let out a more appropriate “whoa” than the one he emits 14 seconds into the trailer for “The Matrix,” moments after a latex-clad character the world would later know as Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) bounds from the roof of one building to another from an overhead point of view. And that was before Reeves dodges a hail of bullets in slo-mo.

It’s easy to forget now that Reeves himself had dodged a bullet in his career before the Wachowski brothers came along with a film that was on few people’s radars prior to glimpsing Neo’s moves for the first time on the big screen and the small — the trailer was truncated into a 30-second spot during the 1999 Super Bowl that ended the same one-two punch of bullet time and Lawrence Fishburne intoning, “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is — you have to see it for yourself.” By the time it’s over, you’re willing to spend $10 and then some to find out. –Stephen Saito

31. Corruption (1968)

For pure B-movie hysteria, few trailers match that of “Corruption,” a 1968 thriller starring Peter Cushing as a surgeon in swinging London who, in order to put his scarred girlfriend back together again, hunts and kills women so he can steal their pituitary glands. A crazy premise like that deserves a crazy trailer like this, which splices together scenes of women screaming, running and being attacked in close-up by Cushing (looking like he’s lost his mind) with outrageously feverish speed. “No woman will dare go home along after seeing CORRUPTION!” it guarantees. One can almost buy such a ridiculous tagline, what with the manic whirlwind of lunatic eyes and thrusting bodies on display here, not to mention the in-pieces baby dolls lying on a whore’s bed, which any horror aficionado knows is a clear marker of a scary movie’s excellence. It’s the deep-voiced narration (“Run. Run. RUN!”) and extreme text graphics, however, that push this trailer into the realm of hilarious greatness, with the latter used to such excessive extent that, at one point, the screen actually becomes engulfed by the word “Therefore.” (Edgar Wright offers his own uproarious commentary on this promo at Trailers From Hell.) –Nick Schager

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15 Comments »

  • Jase said

    Where the heck is Hitchhiker’s Guide’s trailer?

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  • Thom said

    I enjoy trailers a lot & regularly am glued to the internet watching the latest releases.

    I was trying to remember a trailer that I was impressed by and couldn’t really think of any (probably at the fault of my memory more than anything else). However the one that is popping into my head now is “Pineapple Express”. It introduced a lot of people to the wicked MIA track “Paper Planes” and I actually spit out my coffee laughing when James Franco “helps” to clear the car windscreen. It really made me want to see it (unfortunately, the movie itself was a bit of a let down). Take a look at it http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/pineappleexpress/high.html

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    Yeah, Pineapple Express is a great trailer.

    The best recent trailer for me was The Prestige. It wasn’t groundbreaking in any way, it just took a concept I had no interest in and made it compulsory. Not often that happens.

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  • dnwilliams said
    dnwilliams

    saw this over on ifc, nicely done. loved how high cloverfield was.

    the prestige did have a cool trailer, mi3 too (the explosion threw tom cruise onto a car!)

    i like the two towers requiem for a tower trailer, even if that music is played out now…

    the most recent trailers that i absolutely love are the 500 hundred days of summer trailer and the benjamin button trailer

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  • Mimi said

    I am also a trailer obsessed moviegoer. We should all unite sometime.

    Personally, i enjoyed the Illusionist trailer as well. The prestige was nicely put together, yet the plot was iffy for me.

    I think this was a great list of trailers. I would prefer less old trailers, but still they were excellent.

    Maybe soon, there will be a 50 worst trailers of all time. I would like to put The Perfect Getaway on there already.

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  • Trodaboy said

    It surprised me that KILL BILL wasn’t on this list, when I first saw the trailer I was like..”I gotta see this movie” plus the music was so damn addictive!

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  • jack said

    Are you kidding me! The revenge of the sith is the best trailer ever!! no because of the movie itslef, but because of the way the use footage from Star wars to connect between the two trilogies. Listen to the old Obi-Wan (sir Alec Guiness) telling the tale of the time when the Jedi where the pace keepers of the galaxy while you see footage from Revenge of the Sith, that is the best way to close the loop between the two stories.
    Is a shame that you didn’t even include is in your list!!

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  • Nicolas said

    I’m not really convinced with number 1… the best trailer ever in my opinion is PEARL HARBOR Official Trailer… I will never forget how impressed I was at young age watch this trailer for the first time in the cinema. Epic.. best ever trailer so far. And the movie was one of the best too

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  • Lisa said

    The best trailer in my humble opinion is a little-known gem called ‘The Genius Club’. It’s one of the most profound movies ever made.

    You can rent it at Netflix, I think.

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  • lisa loller said

    this is 1 funniest thing i’ve ever heard lisa….the genius club is best muv…cant even spit at that

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  • Joey said

    Where is Jurassic Park it was classic just the ripples in the water you had no idea what was coming.

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  • Liam said

    WTF where is TF3

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  • siddharth said

    now look everyone the best movie trailer is :

    INCEPTION

    i mean when the trailer first came everyone was astouned. A lot of
    people were searching the google for its background music. And i’m just upset that u don’t have inception anywhere on the list
    too bad, really

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