2012 is nearly over, and so is the second full year on the blog. I generally think it’s been a pretty good year for film, but actually not a great year for trailers. It’s also not been a great year for predictions; in the corresponding post last year I correctly predicted that the Mayans had incorrectly predicted the end of the world, but then incorrectly predicted myself that we would get half of the Hobbit film this year. (If only.)
So looking back over the year, there’s not been massive amounts of originality when it comes to hacking two minutes and thirty seconds (give or take) out of your film and splicing them together, but there’s still been a decent enough batch to put together a list of my favourites. I’ve not seen all of the films, and they’re not all trailers of great movies, but that’s not the point, it’s all about what’s contained within these 150 or so seconds. These are the dozen promos that most floated my boat in 2012.
Best Trailer For A Clearly Awful Movie – Elephant White
Yes, this is the best bad trailer that we have of 2012, to paraphrase Argo. Clearly no sane person’s ever going to watch the film, unless it’s on a Friday night on DVD with a liver-threatening amount of cheap lager, but if you can’t enjoy Djimon Hounsou, big guns, Kevin Bacon with one of the most ludicrous accents in the history of anything ever, more big guns and a caption indicating that the director also made something quite well regarded (yes, really), and this is about my biggest guilty pleasure of the year. (That, and knowing how to spell Djimon Hounsou without looking it up.)
Best Trailer For A Not Clearly Awful Movie* – Seven Psychopaths
* But it is an awful movie. Even talking too much about it now will just serve to make me angry again, not least because I actively recommended this film to friends on the basis of the trailer. The total arrogance and intelligence-insulting smugness are thankfully missing from the trailer, but be warned: the experience of watching the trailer is nothing like that of the film, and where Sam Rockwell’s last line might raise a smile here, by the time I saw it in the film I wanted to run up to the screen and punch him in the face.
Best Two Minute Version Of The Whole Movie – Moonrise Kingdom
It’s basically many of the best bits of the entire film, including much of the music and a lot of the jokes; if you want to save yourself the time of watching the whole film, then you deserve a good talking to, as it’s properly brilliant, but if you want to give someone who’s not seen it an idea of what they’re in for, then go right ahead.
Best Black And White Trailer – The Turin Horse
Also best trailer for film I haven’t seen yet. (Yes, even better than Elephant White.)
Best Trailer That Sets Up The Wrong Expectation Of The Film – Killer Joe
Don’t get me wrong, any trailer that hooks in an audience and then serves up something they’ll enjoy is absolutely fine in my book, but the snappy editing and up-tempo music in this trailer suggest something of a fast paced thriller, rather than the deliberately paced chiller you’ll actually get. But no harm, no foul as far as I’m concerned.
Best Flavour Of The Movie Trailer – Berberian Sound Studio
This deconstructed horror, proving as effective at throwing up creepy atmosphere and screwed-up characters as any standard horror despite being seen through the eyes of the foley artist and the sound editor, might be a hard sell, but this brief snatch of the film absolutely nails what you’ll get from the film itself. I’d be prepared to stake a Curly Wurly on no-one loving this trailer and hating the film, or indeed the converse. (Disclaimer: 1,000 word review required to claim Curly Wurly. Allow 28 days for postage.)
Best Explanation Of High Concept Trailer – Looper
So there’s this time travel thing, right, and it’s set in the future, but actually two bits of the future, and China’s more of a world power, and we have time travel but only criminals use it, and so they have to find ways of protecting their interests, and… what do you mean, I’ve had two and a half minutes already? This Looper trailer does a cracking job of setting up the initial conceit, giving a flavour of what’s to come but not spoiling the twists and turns to come later in the film.
Best Short Form Trailer – The Master
The trailers of the Coen Brothers’ last couple of films (A Serious Man and True Grit) have been fine examples of an underlying, almost hypnotic, rhythm used to create mood and effect, and this short initial trailer for The Master uses the same bag of tricks to generate a mindworm that will burrow its way into your brain in just over 60 seconds.
Best Editing Trailer – Sightseers
How much of your film is it possible to cram into a standard length trailer? Thanks to whoever edited this Sightseers trailer, we have at least some sort of answer. I would love to know if the six people that walked out of the screening I was at saw this trailer beforehand, and if somehow their expectations of the film were wrongly set. I would also like to award this best trailer soundtrack of the year; I’d like to, but I’m torn between this and Moonrise Kingdom. Hashtag indecisive.
Best Trailer For Setting Unattainably High Expectations Of The Film – Skyfall
It was unsurprising that my most anticipated film of the year, given my participation in BlogalongaBond (for which I wrote enough words to fill a university thesis on Bond and his ongoing impact) that this trailer, emphasising the wall to wall quality that ran through everything from the acting to the cinematography and the production values, set my expectations sky high. (Ahem.) Ultimately Bond was great, but could never live up to the expectations that this trailer set. Still, it’s the biggest film of all time in the UK and the biggest Bond film of all time worldwide, even adjusting for inflation, so it seems to have kept you lot happy.
Best Trailer For A Film Not Out Until Next Year – Django Unchained
I first saw a Quentin Tarantino film at my university’s film club, Resevoir Dogs being shown on a big screen in a lecture theatre where I normally learned about linear algebra and complex analysis. Somewhere in there, a better writer than me could find a link between pure maths and the pure pleasures of a Tarantino hit, but hey, I’m a mathematician; I got a degree without writing a single essay. It’s a miracle you’re still reading this, frankly. Anyway, look over here! Tarantino!
Best Trailer Of 2012 – The Imposter
This one has it all: sharply edited, fantastic use of intertitles with quotes on praising the film (the five star reviews coming in a start at a time are a particular highlight), it makes great use of the music, it gets the obligatory “From the Academy Award person thingy of…” quote in and it also doesn’t give away too much about the film’s structure or big twists, despite having practically the last shot of the film contained within. For these and many other reasons, this UK trailer for Bart Layton’s The Imposter is my top trailer of 2012.
Regular readers of my blog (there must be at least a couple of you – surely?) will know that I’ve been running a feature at the start of each month called The Half Dozen, where I look at the upcoming releases for the month and pick out a selection of six trailers that have caught my eye. They may not necessarily be the best six, and I may not manage to see all of the movies they relate to, but it’s hopefully been a good guide for myself and anyone else as to what’s around in a given month. (Link at the top of this page if you’d like to see my previous picks.)
However, the Cambridge Film Festival is almost upon us, and having not been to a single movie at the festival in the entire time I’ve lived in this area (just over three years), I’m making up for it in spades this year. I’m having a particularly cinematic summer, and after a double bill at the BFI IMAX in July and a trip to the BFI / Empire Movie-Con in August, my September is taking things to another level.