The Best Movie Trailers of 2015

By  · Published on December 14th, 2015

Not only has this been a good year for movies, it’s also been a fine year for movie trailers. From action movies to dramas to the return of a galaxy far, far away, plenty of pieces of two-minute advertisements got us excited this year. There were even trailers that revealed too much that were actually good, but most of the trailers on this list gave you more of a sense of mood than story – which is often the ingredient for great trailers.

Looking over this list, it’s also worth noting most of these movies lived up to their ads. They were accurate teases of what was in store for audiences. Our list features different kinds of trailers, and they all captured our attention in varying ways. According to Rob Hunter and I, here are the 15 best movie trailers of 2015:

15. The Mermaid

This one’s only a teaser meaning there’s a lot still to learn about Stephen Chow’s latest, but sweet jesus did I laugh at the police sketch artist bit. Chow’s been making films since the ’90s, and while he’s no longer casting himself in the lead role he’s still delivering massive amounts of onscreen entertainment – his last film, Journey to the West, is actually my favorite of his thanks to its big laughs, high energy, and insane creativity. This one looks somewhat more low-key, but the inspired lunacy is still there. — Rob

14. Tomorrowland

The sense of mystery and wonderment in the teaser for director Brad Bird’s old school sci-fi sucks you right in. You didn’t see much, but with Frank’s (George Clooney) narration setting up Tomorrowland, that’s all you need. After seeing this teaser, I was sold and, wisely, avoided the other story-heavy trailers that followed. This is a less is more kind of ad for a summer movie – something we don’t see very often. — Jack

13. Hardcore

Reviews out of TIFF weren’t all that kind, but this trailer grabs your attention and throttles it with first-person acts of violence and stunts. Like a cross between the brief POV portions of Robocop and the videogame F.E.A.R., it sets up a simple story before unleashing our wronged protagonist to wreak all manner of destruction on those who cross his path. It definitely “feels” like a game at some points, for better or worse, but it also leaves viewers in awe as to how certain shots were captured. All that plus we get to see Sharlto Copley silenced with a shot to the head? Bliss. — Rob

12. Carol

Admittedly, this one gives away far too much, but it’s still beautifully cut together. Todd Haynes’ film relies heavily on silence to tell its story, and this trailer reflects that. It expresses the love and longing that makes Carol so memorable. Without any dialogue, you know what these characters are feeling in a matter of 90 seconds, simply through images and excellent performances. – Jack

11. Goodnight Mommy

This trailer just digs right under the skin. I remember watching the Goodnight Mommy and The Witch trailers on the same day – and it was a rather unsettling four minutes. The imagery looks both gorgeous and grotesque. I’ve yet to see the film, and I hope it’s as unnerving as its trailer. — Jack

10. Creed

The combination of director and star present here – Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan – was already enough to pique our interest in yet another tale of an underdog in the ring, but this first trailer ramped up our anticipation exponentially. We can see the beats of the film and get glimpses of the side characters who will help bring it all to life, and it’s not until past the trailer’s halfway point that it reveals the film as a new chapter in an established franchise. It was a smart move that allowed viewers to form an opinion on the film’s perceived merits before hitting us with a nostalgic sucker punch. — Rob

9. Triple 9

This Triple 9 trailer is a nightmare. The use “This Little Piggy” is a little on-the-nose for a movie about cops, but it compliments director John Hillcoat’s (The Proposition) striking shots. It’s a raw, hard-hitting trailer, drenched in suspense, desperation, and horror. Hillcoat never sugarcoats violence, and this red band promises an uncompromising thriller. — Jack

8. Hail, Caesar!

Exactly what you hope for from a Coen Brothers movie. Their films often have great trailers – A Serious Man being the recent shining example – and Hail, Caesar! is no different. It introduces a new set of original Coen Brothers’ characters you can’t wait to watch. The filmmaking duo always get casting right, and this trailer teases some wonderfully funny banter between the terrific cast. — Jack

7. Captain America: Civil War

I’m not shy about my love for the two Captain America films – they’re still the two best entries in the Marvel universe – so I come to the third one with already high levels of excitement. The trailer still managed to elevate it even higher though thanks in part to the Russo brothers’ eye for fantastic action beats, both grounded and CG-assisted. More than that though, it highlights an element that helped make the first two so damn good – heart. Captain America is one of the only Avengers to display emotion and tangible conflict, and this looks to do it once again. The only downside here, and it’s potentially a big one, is just how stuffed the film appears to be. Hopefully the Russos handle it better than Joss Whedon did in his second go-around. — Rob

6. The Witch

A24 shouldn’t have released this trailer so early, because it makes the wait for Robert Eggers’ horror film all the more excruciating. The Witch has been a major hit at film festivals this year, and it’s easy to see why. You can’t get much creepier than dark woods and little children, which this trailer has both of. It’s unrelenting, and it leaves you completely excited to see what exactly The Witch is about. — Jack

5. The Revenant

This is a thrilling trailer for director Alejandro Iñárritu’s man vs. nature epic. The world feels completely believable and lived-in. There’s no shortage of gorgeous shots, but what the trailer also does well is how simply it sets up the plot of the film. This tells you exactly what the movie is: a brutal and deeply serious revenge film. — Jack

4. Viking

Vikings have stormed their way into the public consciousness in a big way in recent years with several films and a popular TV series, but they’ve all looked like mere child’s play compared to the epic, brutal, and gorgeous display promised by this trailer. Large-scale battles appear alongside visceral acts of more intimate violence, and all of the ugliness just looks so damn aggressively attractive. I’m not familiar with director Andrey Kravchuk’s previous work, but if the film lives up to intense beauty here I’ll be seeking it out as soon as possible. — Rob

3. Mad Max: Fury Road

The Mad Max: Fury Road trailers have great rewatch value, and they’re the ones I’ve revisited the most this year. The level of energy in them is invigorating – a thrilling pace that George Miller’s film delivered on. It’s a visual feast packed with practical explosions, real crashes, oddball touches, and two incredibly badass heroes. This is a film that lived up to its very promising trailers. — Jack

2. The Nice Guys

Shane Black co-writing and directing a new R-rated, buddy action/comedy is probably the greatest gift the world could ever receive. (Sorry world peace.) The only misstep in this entire trailer is referring to Black as “the director of Iron Man 3” – because seriously, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the masterpiece you want to be referencing when the film once again pairs two great, under-appreciated actors in a dirty, gritty, blackly comic mystery. Both Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling look quite at home in Black’s world, and the end result is that this might just be my most-anticipated film of 2016. — Rob

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There wasn’t a chance the Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn’t going to top this last. The level of mania and passion it fired up earlier this year was astonishing, and it made the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice teaser come and go like a whisper. More importantly, a lot of people were made excited again about Star Wars. Hearing Han Solo say, “Chewie, we’re home,” couldn’t have been a better way to win those fans back. Most teasers end with an explosion or wreckage of some kind, but all The Force Awakens needed was that shot of Han and Chewie – that feeling of seeing two old friends again. — Jack

Honorable Mentions: Macbeth, Crimson Peak, Point Break

Click here to read more of our Best of 2015

Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.