The Best Movie Trailers of 2013, Part 2

Le Congres

Making a good trailer is not an easy proposition; while some trailers come off as too vague, telling the audience nothing enticing about the project it is promoting, others can seen too expository, revealing the plot of the entire movie in two minutes.  A great trailer, however, takes on a life of its own, becoming something worth revisiting regardless of one’s thoughts on the film it is attached to. Every year sees a few such trailers released, and 2013 was no different. Part 1 of our list of the year’s best trailers was released last week, and here is Part 2.

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15) Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has proved himself a versatile force in front of the camera. However, nobody really knew what to expect from his first directorial effort, but the movie’s first trailer went a long way towards both giving an idea and furthering the mystery. Providing a look at the titular character, the voiceover says a lot, but so does the setting and the editing, working together to give a more complete look at a character in a trailer than most full-length movies to in their entire runtime. Despite an unfortunate undertone that makes the film seem like a spiritual successor to Kirk Cameron’s latter-day projects, this trailer is nonetheless immediately arresting, and remains so even with multiple viewings.

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14) The Bling Ring

A quiet beginning and handheld camera cinematography make any trailer interesting on its own. The first trailer for The Bling Ring, however, manages to take it one step further, using the quiet start as a jarring contrast to the tone the rest of the trailer takes, and presents an intriguing dichotomy. The scenes of decadence look stunning, and Sofia Coppola’s name popping up only adds to the positive effect. The trailer’s big secret, however, is Emma Watson; known mostly for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, the trailer focuses on Watson’s transformation into a completely different archetype. All these factors combine to make this trailer one of the better ones to emerge from the year’s offerings.

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13) The Canyons

Despite a long and distinguished career in Hollywood, Paul Schrader’s newest venture into directing did not come into the world on a wave of positive acclaim. With many questionable elements present, including the presence of both Lindsay Lohan and Brett Easton Ellis, and unflattering reports of on-set troubles, made many people wary of the film. This first trailer, however, goes a long way towards presenting a completely different image; with the decrepit theatres contrasted against the brightly lit house, and a song that manages to run in tune with the visuals, rather than simply accompanying it, this trailer makes the prospect of watching The Canyons a very intriguing one, doing its job remarkably.

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12) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

While Ben Stiller is an accomplished director, with Zoolander and Tropic Thunder’s hilarity recognized by many, his trailers have never been the way he has grabbed audience attention. The first trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, his next work, thus caught a lot of people off-guard. A nearly dialogue-free trailer with some unexpectedly artistic images presented a different version of the director than many expected, and pointed to an artistic vision that seemed to stretch Stiller’s wings. No matter how the final product turns out, the trailer remains a gorgeous piece on its own.

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11) Godzilla

Despite the legendary nature of the classic movie monster, the last impression American audiences had of Godzilla was not a favourable one, as Roland Emmerich’s movie left a sour taste for many fans. As the first taste of an American-made Godzilla movie since that one, the first trailer had a lot of weight on its shoulders, and it more than delivers. Despite seemingly beginning as a movie about soldiers, the impending sense of something incomprehensibly big is present right from the start, and the glimpses of only part of the creature, combined with shots of the carnage in its wake, allow the audience to fill in the blanks, with admirable results. The fantastic visuals, and large absence of music, only serve to heighten the effect, in all the right ways.

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10) Doctor Who: 50 Years

2013 marked a momentous occasion for science fiction fans, as the long-running British series Doctor Who celebrated its 50th year on the air. In the leadup to the episode commemorating the event, numerous trailers and teasers were released, among them this one. Managing to evoke a sense of impending doom and grim determination on the part of The Doctor would be enough to make any trailer stand out. However, this trailer goes further, zooming through a visual history of all The Doctor’s regenerations to date, with a number of Easter eggs. Garnering interest in a tv show is a different beast than garnering interest in a movie, but as this shows, great trailers can come from either.

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9) Before Midnight

The third film in Richard Linklater’s exploration of the relationship between Jesse and Celine was bound to pique the interest of film fans, regardless of the quality of its trailers. In a way, that makes this particular trailer even more impressive, as it manages to remind viewers of why they got invested in the story of the American and the Frenchwoman in the first place. But a closer look at the trailer also reveals an undercurrent of dread that escalates as the trailer progresses, until it cannot be ignored. Together, the elements come together to make a trailer that works well outside of the movie’s context, but even better within it.

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8) The Congress (Le Congrés)

The first half of the trailer for The Congress, despite presenting an intriguing movie premise, plays out in a seemingly generic manner. While there’s nothing incompetent in the execution, nothing makes it stand out either. The second half, however, reveals a whole new layer, nearly becoming a trailer for a different movie in the process, and shows the clear hand of filmmaker Ari Folman at work. Gorgeous animation, and touching on deeper themes such as identity and the importance of things held dear work together in elevating this trailer to one of the year’s best.

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7) Bastards (Les Salauds)

While ideas on what constitutes a great trailer vary, many can agree that an excellent trailer transcends language barriers to draw viewers in. The trailer for Claire Denis’ Les Salauds is a perfect example of such a trailer, as the noir sensibilities, from the music to the dark alleyways and corridors, to the subterfuge and weapons. As an added benefit, understanding what’s being said doesn’t take away from the allure of the trailer, as it manages to only give enough of a character sketch to indicate the kinds of people caught up in this situation, without revealing any of the story in the process.

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6) Fast & Furious 6

The Fast & Furious franchise is something of an oddity in cinema history, as its latter installments have seen an uptick in both critical acclaim and commercial popularity. This trailer, however, does a great job of distilling the appeal of the films into one extended trailer package. Providing a plot outline, the trailer then proceeds to play out like a greatest hits collection, showing the action setpieces without giving too much away. It shows an awareness of exactly what audiences expect, as well as what contributed to the success of the series, and puts it all together. If one is not sold on the movie after this trailer, they will never be.

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5) The Counselor

Despite Ridley Scott’s record over the past few years, any film of his still gets people interested. The Counselor had the added benefit of being famed novelist Cormac McCarthy’s first original screenplay. With all this weight, alongside a stellar cast, most of the job of selling the movie is already done, but for any people remaining hesitant, this trailer does a great job of furthering interest, with a growing sense of tension from the first frame, and a palpable sense of a house of cards, ready to collapse at any point. The display of wealth, and the costumes, add an air of trying to hide something, but there’s also a sense of ruthlessness one gets from the trailer, all of which add up to a great trailer.

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4) The Monuments Men

Doing a movie about World War 2 is a major risk. In many cases, the stories have already been told, in some form or another, which makes it difficult to find an original tale to tell. Adding to this issue is the fact that many of the original stories may not be compelling to audiences. George Clooney, however, has proven himself to be an accomplished veteran of film, and so it’s no surprise that the first trailer leads off with him. Effectively balancing a sense of futility with a sense of humour throughout, the trailer takes the time to highlight all the key supporting players, such as Goodman and Murray, and manages to really sell the movie in the process.

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3) In a World…

A movie from a first time writer-director focused on the voiceover industry can be a hard sell, even when the person in question is the well-regarded comic talent Lake Bell. The first trailer, seemingly aware of this, puts forth a great presentation, beginning with the iconic and lost “In a World” beginning, and going on to hint at the movie’s themes, including working in a parent’s shadow and tackling industry sexism, all while maintaining a cheerful tone throughout that never undercuts the themes. The end of the trailer, however, seemingly does the impossible, as it manages to pull a joke from the movie that plays excellently outside its context, without coming off as hacky, and showcasing Bell’s talent, all at the same time.

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2) Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive is a very tricky beast of a film; on one hand, it’s a new movie by Jim Jarmusch, his first in several years. On the other hand, it tackles the subject of vampires, something that is being explored in numerous forms of media already (Case in point; of the shows that made their premiere in the 2013-2014 television season, two were about vampires). This first trailer, however, goes a long way towards assuaging any doubts about the movie. Focusing on mood, the trailer manages to make the movie seem sufficiently grim without going over the top, and paints a gorgeous picture that tells everything one needs to know about the movie without telling anything at all.

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1) The Wolf of Wall Street

A Martin Scorsese movie rarely, if ever, needs to sell itself to many film fans, especially when it’s a collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. Seemingly unaware of this, however, the first trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street comes roaring out of the gate. Set to the pulse-pounding sound of Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead”, the trailer moves with a kinetic energy that still manages to tell the audience a lot, giving them a clear portrayal of Jordan Belfort without revealing too much about the movie. A callous disregard for human life, an untethered pursuit of material wealth by any means necessary, all get highlighted in this trailer, and would make the film associated with it a must-see even if it had no pedigree behind it.

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Click here to see part one (Ricky’s Picks)

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