The Last House On the Left

I’ll be the first to admit this trailer should probably be excluded based purely on the fact that it gives away too much of the movie (the last few seconds of the trailer are inexcusable), but it does such a fine job of making something vile seem almost beautiful that I had to include it. Laying the sweet sounds of a Guns n Roses cover song (“Sweet Child O’Mine” by Taken By Trees) over scenes of such viciousness and violence is a brilliant and effective move, and it implies a degree of class that may or may not actually be in the movie itself.

A Single Man

There are only a few trailers on this list that are dialogue free, and this is the only one also (mostly) free of special effects. The trailer uses a simple but intense piece of music played over a series of beautifully shot images and manages to instantly grab our attention. What’s the movie about? You’d have no clue if all you knew was what the trailer offered, but that’s not a bad thing. Director Tom Ford is a big shot in the fashion world and it’s easy to see that his eye for beauty and style has translated well into the world of cinema.

Star Trek

Whether or not you like the final product, there’s no denying this trailer showed that JJ Abrams and friends were serious about their reboot of the Star Trek universe. And even if you couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Star Trek this trailer still manages to grab you with over two minutes of action, spectacle, drama, and lens flares. (There’s even lens flare on the screens with nothing but text!) The trailer does a great job of introducing Kirk as someone still in the process of finding himself and his purpose… and the fact that it manages that amidst all the explosions, action, familiar character glimpses, and space debris is truly impressive.

Taken

If it feels like this movie is two or three years old it’s because it is… but it hit US theaters in January so technically it’s a 2009 release. The trailer is pretty solid all around, but the heart of it is Liam Neeson’s standout speech on the phone to his daughter’s kidnapper. Even if we weren’t shown a single piece of the action that follows you’d know that he was about to start kicking ass all over Paris. Neeson is an imposing guy, and the fact that he’s never had a role of this sort before now is astounding. We hear his promise and we believe it… and when the bad guy says “good luck” we can’t help but smile thinking of what’s in store for the prick.

Thirst

The trailer for Park Chan-wook’s latest film starts with a simple setup and ends with toe sucking… a priest gives his life trying to help stop a deadly disease, but then returns from the brink of death a changed man. The formerly chaste man of god soon discovers a taste for blood and the sensuous touch of a married woman, and the trailer shows us quick glimpses of both desires being satiated. Park knows how to frame a visually arresting shot and we’re teased with many of them here… the all white room, the scissors thrusting towards someone’s mouth, the long shot of the leap from the car to someone’s back… all beautiful, and all luring you into the director’s assured grasp.

Tokyo!

I love this trailer. The images, the text style, and the song choice (“Be Good” by Tokyo Police Club) all serve to capture the kinetic, varied, and unexpected nature of the film itself. It’s dialogue-free, but the themes of transformation, anarchy, and rebirth are evident in more than just the screen that actually spells it out. We see a woman with an odd hole in her stomach, a weird troll-like man being tasered beneath the streets of the city, and tattoo buttons that seem to actually have an effect when pressed… none of it makes sense and we’re left wanting to see the movie just to see if any of it gets explained.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

If you’re a regular reader here at FSR then you may already know that I loathed this movie. Absolutely hated it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know a slick trailer when I see one… and this early teaser here is slick as hell. It’s designed perfectly to shake your eyes and your ears, and like the Avatar trailer above it wisely forgoes dialogue in favor of gigantic robots brawling and destroying everything they touch. It doesn’t even bother with a single shot of Megan Fox bent in some uncomfortable position over a motorcycle while wearing cutoff jeans-shorts that ride the crack of her ass like– what were we talking about again?

Where the Wild Things Are

I haven’t ranked these trailers, but if I did this would easily be in the #1 slot. It was the first true look at Spike Jonze’s cinematic interpretation of the classic Maurice Sendak book, and it is beautiful. From the visuals both intimate and sweeping, to the hand-written text, to the seemingly perfect musical choice (“Wake up” by Arcade Fire) this trailer never fails to move me. Perhaps the ultimate compliment to whomever cut it is the fact that this two-minute trailer packs a bigger emotional punch then the actual movie.

Honorary Mentions: Away We Go, Dead Snow, The Hangover, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, My Bloody Valentine 3D, Not Quite Hollywood, Ong Bak 2, A Perfect Getaway, Robogeisha, Taken, Terminator Salvation, The Tournament, Up In the Air, Watchmen, Zombieland

What was your favorite trailer of the year?

Read More: 2009 Year in Review


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