Best Movie Trailers of 2013 (Part One)

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It’s not easy making a great movie, but it’s even harder making a great trailer. Like all advertising, movie trailers have evolved in the last few decades to become a genuine pop culture event. An effective trailer can do wonders for a film, especially for a film that doesn’t come with a built-in audience. There’s no faster way to create buzz than with a good trailer, and a well made trailer can turn a movie from a first-time director starring a bunch of then-unknowns into the most-buzzed about movie for weeks. Meanwhile a poor trailer can doom a movie right from the start. Every year there are but a few trailers that, independent of the film they’re promoting, capture everyone’s full attention. Here are the trailers of 2013 that were able to do that best.

Please note: This is Ricky’s list. Deepayan’s list will follow next week. 

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15. Bad Grandpa (Trailer #1)

The trailer for Bad Grandpa really does a fine job in giving audiences a taste of the R-rated pranks Johnny Knoxville perpetrates on innocent Americans in his Jackass spin-off. Jeff Tremaine directs this road trip comedy with Jackson Nicoll as Knoxville’s pint-sized partner in crime. The trailer makes our cut for one simple reason: It had us laughing uncontrollably out loud.

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14. Captain American The Winter Soldier (Trailer #1)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier promises to be an intriguing entry in Marvel’s Phase 2, and the trailer really does have us excited. Winter Soldier looks nothing like the original Captain America which transpires mostly in the 1940s. Winter Soldier instead finds Cap fixed in the modern age with new weapons, new villains, a new suit, and a whole lot of Star-Spangled action. As a result, the trailer for Winter Soldier makes us believe Marvel is essentially giving the hero a full-scale reboot. If that isn’t enough, Robert Redford, who joins the cast as Head of SHIELD Alexander Pierce, plays a major part in this first full-length trailer, telling our hero: “To build a better world, sometimes means tearing the old one down… and that makes enemies.”

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13. Only God Forgives (Trailer #3)

This first, full-length trailer for Only God Forgives confirmed the film would hold the same sort of stylized violence that proved so effective in Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous film, Drive. Soaked in neon colours and heavily stylized sets, the trailer does a great job in showcasing Larry Smith’s beautiful cinematography and Cliff Martinez’s pan-Asian sounds, to create a world that is equally dreamy and sleazy.

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12. Grand Budapest Hotel (Trailer #1)

Eccentric characters, pastel colour schemes, quick shots of obscure items, quirky story-lines, diorama-like sets, careful symmetry, and saturated colours, are all signatures of director Wes Anderson’s films. The trailer for his latest flick, The Grand Budapest Hotel, includes all of the Anderson tropes — with a murder mystery thrown into the mix. Wes Anderson films may all look very similar but it’s hard to deny the brilliance of each. The trailer succeeds in showing off the filmmaker’s precision, dry humour, and stellar cast.

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11. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (Trailer #2)

With the world in grave danger (when is it not), the hobbits bravely set out on their next adventure, which comes complete with enormous spiders, epic battles and Benedict Cumberbatch’s terrifying voice as Smaug roaring “I am king under the mountain!” before never really showing his face. Still, the trailer for Desolation of Smaug is so good, it might just make some of us forget how disappointing The Hobbit is.

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10. Almost Human (Trailer #1)

Now, this is how you cut a trailer for a horror film. This incredible trailer for Joe Begos’s blood soaked feature debut Almost Human, also came with an even cooler poster. The good news is, the film which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival is just as good. Warning: This trailer is not for the weak of heart.

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9. American Hustle (Trailer #1)

Led Zeppelin’s famous track “Good Times Bad Times” powers through the first trailer for David O. Russell’s American Hustle. Originally released as the opening track on Zeppelin’s 1969 debut album, “Good Times Bad Times” didn’t make much of an impression on the charts initially, but has since become legendary. Here, the song is used to great effect, making this one of the best edited teasers of the year. The song is a personal favourite of mine, and I’m guessing Russell is also a huge fans since this is the second time he’s used the track (It also appeared in his 2010 hit The Fighter).

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8. 12 Years A Slave (Trailer #1)

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free-born black man who was kidnapped, drugged, and sold into slavery in 1841 before regaining his freedom 12 years later. The trailer certainly makes a good first impression perfectly capturing some of the most emotionally devastating moments of the film without ever spoiling too much for those who haven’t yet seen it. The combination of Hans Zimmer’s composition “Time,” and Solomon’s speech help make this trailer truly memorable.

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7. The Raid 2: Berandal (Trailer #1)

The Raid 2: Berandal trailer starts off at a slow burn but transitions to an adrenaline pumping, action spectacle that teases bigger shoot-outs, crazier car stunts and better hand-to-hand combat sequences than the first film. The preview is a clear indication of how Garreth Evans is growing as a film maker, highlighting the carnage with fast-cuts between fight sequences, and an awesome shot of Iko Uwais (star of the original film), destroying a concrete wall with his bare hands. At just over a minute in length, the clip accomplishes two things: it raises the stakes of the original movie, and avoids any plot heavy spoilers.

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6. Escape From Tomorrow 

Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow caused quite a stir when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. To shoot his film, set in Disney World, Moore purchased a season pass to the park and secretly filmed his actors without the park’s knowledge. Many suspected that it would never actually get an official release, but after several months of controversy and possible lawsuits, the film hit select theatres and VOD on October 11. The first official poster for the film, which features a bloody hand from Mickey Mouse reaching up, topped our list of the best posters of the year. That alone was somewhat haunting, but nothing compared to the surreal, eerie and twisted trailer seen below. Unfortunately the trailer is far better than the actual movie.

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5. You’re Next (Trailer #1)

A good song can go a long way in making a mediocre trailer much more engrossing than it actually is. The word-of-mouth on Adam Wingard’s You’re Next was already pretty strong even before the trailer hit the internet. The movie received high praise after taking home the Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and found a loyal following in the film festival circuit. Truthfully this trailer doesn’t break any new ground, but it does many things right, like adding Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” a  perfect song to play over the sequence of events unfolding in the clip. The trailer makes highly ironic use of Reed’s hit, and gives little indication as to the darkly hilarious nature of the film. What follows is a gruesome series of shots showing a dysfunctional clan besieged by psychopaths in animal masks.

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4. Man of Steel (Trailer #3)

Credit to those who were hired to market The Man of Steel. The marketing was absolutely incredible, and the final trailer for Zack Snyder‘s Superman film is simply amazing. This last trailer is much shorter than the previous one but a spectacle no less – and this time around it is the villains that are placed in the spotlight. Beginning with the same warning that is featured in the first viral video, this trailer focuses almost entirely on Michael Shannon’s General Zod.

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3. The Double (Trailer #1)

The first trailer for writer/director Richard Ayoade’s much talked about dark comedy The Double, quickly caught out attention. Set to Son House’s bittersweet “Grinnin’ in Your Face,” the trailer shows but brief clips of Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) walking along with a grim expression, and eventually joined by his double, James. The film touts itself as a comedy, but this moody first look says otherwise. It’s tough to tell, but that mystery is what makes it great.

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2. Gravity

Right after Alfonso Cuarón’s visionary sci-fi film Gravity won plaudits at Venice, the first trailer was released, and boy did it have everyone even more excited to see what James Cameron called, “The best space movie ever”. No surprise, the trailer is intense and it is nearly impossible to watch these mere clips without getting drawn in the suspense. This is without a doubt, one of the best trailers in recent memory, even if sound is heard in space.

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1. Man of Steel (Trailer #1 and Trailer #2)

Truthfully, we could include all five of the Warner Bros. trailers for Man of Steel. The Superman reboot had by far the best marketing of any film released in 2013, starting with these two incredible teasers which give us a mix of deep character exploration and the sort of big-budget blockbuster visuals you’d expect from a summer tentpole. The emphasis on the mythology of the Superman/Clark Kent is reflected in two separate teasers released on the same day; one featuring words of wisdom from his biological father (Jor-El) – and the other features the voice of his adopted father (Pa Kent).

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Click here to see part two (Deepayan’s picks)






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