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Best Movie Trailers of 2014

The Guest

Making a trailer is never an easy feat, regardless of the film being promoted.  Nearly everyone has a story of a flawed trailer that does the opposite of its job, whether it’s by giving away the entire story of the film being promoted, or by poorly using a song. However, a memorable trailer can detach itself from the film it’s tied to to become its own creation, something to be admired on its own merits. Below are the 30 best trailers released in 2014, a selection that includes everything from Westerns to Horror, proving that any movie is capable of producing a good trailer.

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30) The Homesman international trailer #1

This trailer wastes no time drawing the viewer in, using distant landscape shots to establish the harshness of the land, emphasised by the way the humans appear particularly tiny. The score adds to the effect, setting the stage for the plot of the story to get introduced. Few trailers can convey a film’s setting as well as this one does, which puts this trailer among the best of the year.

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29) In The Heart of the Sea Trailer #1

The juxtaposition of the ominous music and beautiful scenery to kick off the trailer goes a long way towards establishing the mood and drawing viewers in. While the trailer leans a bit on exposition, it nonetheless doesn’t give away any key aspects of the story, and the transition from the wondrous to the terrifying is organic and effective. The trailer also smartly keeps away from revealing the creature at the core of the story, instead focusing on glimpses that show its scale. All these factors work together to make this one of the year’s best trailers.

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28) Edge of Tomorrow Trailer #2

While the trailer starts off presenting itself as a generic story, the way the time repeating aspect is introduced helps set it apart from others. Adding to its quality are the way it manages to throw the audience into the battle without context, effectively conveying the sense of chaos, and portraying the relationship between the characters played by Blunt and Cruise without revealing too much. The touches of humour add to the elevation of the trailer into one worth watching.

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27) Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer #1

The announcement of a new addition to the Star Wars franchise automatically put a number of expectations on the film, not the least of which was that the film should remain faithful to its predecessors while still being its own entity. The film’s first trailer seems well aware of these expectations, as the iconic elements of the first trilogy, including the score, are mixed in with looks at the new cast and characters. The effective blend of the two, which manages to toe the line between respect and pandering, helps elevate this trailer to one of the year’s best.

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26) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer #3

Making a trailer for a movie about a fictional war is no easy task, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes further compounds this problem by having the war in question be between humans and apes. The movie’s final trailer, however, does an excellent job, focusing on not only the emotional toll of war, but by showing the conflict among the ape population as well. The signs of abandoned buildings and cities only adds to the effect, and while the trailer gives a good idea of how the story might go, it also hints at more beneath the surface.

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25) Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer #2

While news of a new entry in the Mad Max franchise was met with trepidation by some, the casting announcements and return of George Miller have gone a long way towards assuaging doubts. For those still on the fence, however, the film’s trailers have done a great job of conveying what the feature is going for, and this trailer is no different, as it mixes in action with stark images of the desert landscape. The music adds a layer of theatricality to the proceedings, especially with its absence.

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24) Inherent Vice Trailer #1

The marketing for Inherent Vice had a tough road from the start; it had to ensure PTA fans that the director had not made a misstep, it had to ensure Pynchon fans that the adaptation was faithful, and it had to draw in new viewers. The film’s first trailer does a wonderful job in all respects, focusing on sketching out the world the movie is set in, and highlighting the characters involved, while also playing up the comedic aspects, all while keeping its cards close to its chest.

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23) Furious 7 Trailer #1

The Fast & Furious franchise has always had a knack for making their trailers seem like extended action movies all on their own, and the Furious 7 trailer is no different in that regard. Kicking things off with an extended action sequence that proves this entry will not pull punches with their thrills, the trailer keeps up the tempo even after the scene ends, making for an enjoyable viewing all the way through. The lingering shots of Paul Walker, the franchise star who sadly passed away recently, also serves effectively as a mini-homage to the performer.

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22) Knight of Cups trailer #1

A trailer for a Terrence Malick movie is nearly guaranteed to have some memorable images, but it’s the way these images are composed and presented that makes this Knight of Cups trailer more memorable than most. Not only do the two halves of the trailer serve as a testament to how the score affects an audience’s perception of events, as the first half of the trailer plays out like a thriller solely due to the choice of music, but the images themselves have a symmetry in their presentation that makes this trailer a mesmerising watch.

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21) Interstellar trailer #2

Finding a movie that manages to convey both large and small stakes at the same time is rare, which makes the effectiveness with which this Interstellar trailer manages to juggle the two all the more impressive. Juxtaposing the images of ruin against the dialogue surrounding family and sacrifice not only manages to pull off the balance, it also keeps the large-scale science-fiction aspect of the story under wraps, while still alerting the audience to its presence.

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20) The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Trailer #1

While the unique structure of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, in which a relationship is chronicled from the individual perspectives of both partners, makes for an enticing premise, it can be difficult to portray in a trailer. Fortunately, this one doesn’t shy away from the challenge, using the same scenes to showcase how this aspect sets the movie apart. The repetition of scenes from different perspectives also allows the trailer to showcase the versatility of its two leads, and let the movie speak for itself.

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19) Godzilla trailer #2

The presence of a monologue delivered by Bryan Cranston would automatically make a trailer memorable. This Godzilla trailer, however, manages to add to the feeling of dread the monologue brings by laying it over scenes of destruction and carnage that seem unfathomable, not just in their scale, but in their patterns as well. The focus on the impact of the monster does a better job of striking fear than any visual of the creature could have, and the final shot makes this trailer one of the year’s most memorable.

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18) Guardians of the Galaxy trailer #1

Despite coming from the Marvel brand, Guardians of the Galaxy marked a noticeable departure from the studio’s recent set of films, making it a more difficult sell than usual, particularly as audiences didn’t know what to expect. The first trailer toys with this, as it starts out sombre and serious before revealing its comedic side. The trailer, however, doesn’t forget to also show the action elements of the film, and the unexpected use of an upbeat pop song helps cement the effectiveness of the trailer.

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17) Da Sweet Blood of Jesus trailer #1

A Spike Lee movie funded through Kickstarter is enough to pique the interest of many. For those on the fence, however, this trailer does a wonderful job of selling the film, interspersing intriguing bits of dialogue amidst memorable shots. The trailer lets the visuals do the bulk of the talking, steering clear of the film’s plot, and while that would generally be inadvisable, this trailer’s ability to pull that off is what separates it from most.

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16) Foxcatcher Trailer #2

The dark undercurrent of a relentless drive towards success is constantly present in this Foxcatcher trailer, despite never being articulated. Instead, the score and dialogue work together to tell a different story than most of the images presented. The intended message is clear; this movie aims to show that not everything is as it seems. But no plot points are sacrificed in the process, and the final shot proves how far the movie is set to go.

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15) The Raid 2: Berandal International Trailer # 2 

While the first film was heavy on action, but light on plot, this second trailer promises the second outing to be a bit more concerned with incorporating a story arc. The clip shows us some new characters before unleashing a barrage of spectacular action sequences that are no longer confined to a single building; instead these fights spill across the streets of Jakarta. The trailer packs enough jaw-dropping action and martial arts mayhem to ensure us that it will be just as intense and violent as the first film.

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14) The Guest trailer #2

A pulsating score undercuts what appears to be an unremarkable story of a man ingratiating himself with his friend’s family, setting the stage with the unspoken implication of something being off-kilter. The last third of the trailer delivers on this promise, while still remaining intentionally vague about what role the titular guest plays in the proceedings, and what their catalyst is. The trailer does little more than promise an exciting movie, but being able to stop there is a skill few other trailers in the year have shown.

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13) The Rover Trailer #1

The imagery of the trailer is more than enough to be enticing, punctuating shots of a desolate landscape with bursts of violence or imminent violence that get more frequent as the trailer progresses, culminating in the first audible gunshot. But it’s the minimal score and effective voiceover that pushes this trailer into the position of one of the year’s best, as the elements combine to create a sense of unease that most films are unable to capture, let alone trailers.

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12) Blue Ruin Trailer #1

Much like most trailers, this one begins with a melancholy, downbeat tone, appropriate to what unfolds onscreen. It’s halfway through, however, that this one begins to separate itself from the rest, as an underlying sense of dread and unease begins to creep in without overwhelming the downbeat tone. The images and dialogue also works wonderfully, as it gives enough of the story without revealing too much, all the while communicating that things don’t end up okay at the end. The combination of all these factors makes the trailer one of the year’s best.

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11) Nightcrawler trailer #2

The trailer for Nightcrawler starts off with a difficult job; it has to sell a complex movie by a relatively unknown director with an offbeat character at its core. Fortunately, this trailer proves itself more than capable of the job, as it gives context to the character’s desperation before plunging him into a nightmarish world where he seems, by turns, both too comfortable and ill at ease. Showing the escalating stakes, and sprinkling in some choice dialogue only adds to the trailer’s effectiveness.

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10) The Babadook Trailer #1

A horror movie from a first-time filmmaker can have a tough time differentiating itself in the movie landscape, which puts added pressure on a film’s trailer. The Babadook‘s first trailer takes that pressure in stride, as it showcases two clearly frayed individuals, and withholds the source of the terror for as long as possible, sending the audience in a different direction altogether, which also fits in with the trailer’s unease. The lack of fanfare that precedes the creature’s line, and the decision to not show the creature, both work to further elevate the trailer to this position.

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9) The Double trailer #1

Rather than focus on the central mystery that makes up the premise of The Double, the film’s trailer instead focuses on the effect it has on the lead character. Even before it show’s the movie’s basic plot, the trailer starts off by showing the lead character’s condition, and his meekness and acceptance, adding to the audience’s discomfort with the score. This adds weight to the final outburst, and the combination of the trailer’s structure, music, and images, serve to put the audience in the protagonist’s head, making this an excellent trailer.

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8) It Follows International Trailer #1

The focus on a lone figure at the beach, with no accompanying music or other markers, effectively sets the tone for the trailer, and the longer it lingers, the more unnerving it becomes. Into this moment, the trailer adds some effective dialogue before turning to a different set of equally unnerving images. While the audience may not know what the movie is about at the end of this trailer, there’s no doubt what genre it belongs to, and managing to pull that off so successfully is what puts this trailer among the year’s best.

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7) Tomorrowland Trailer #1

The trailer’s most effective moment is the transition between worlds, as it comes without warning, and serves to disorient the audience as much as it does the protagonist. The colour palette between worlds also serves to effectively separate the two, and the message of hope gets delivered effectively, instead of coming off as preachy, with the lead character’s wonderment matched only by the sparseness of the plot. The jetpack at the end only serves to seal the deal.

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6) A Most Violent Year trailer #1

With the wildly divergent nature of filmmaker JC Chandor’s first two features, nobody knew what to expect from his third outing. This trailer, however, does an excellent job of providing an idea of what the film might be about, without giving too much away. The dimension the trailer give the lead character to start things off works effectively against the escalating tone of the rest of the trailer, and the rest of the dialogue works seamlessly with the visuals.

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5) Boyhood trailer #1

Advertising a movie that has been in production for 12 years can be a tricky prospect, as a trailer would have to walk a fine line between playing up that fact and not letting it overwhelm the movie. This trailer for Boyhood does just that, and with seeming ease, pointing out the unique nature of the film before stepping back and letting the heart of the feature shine through, showcasing scenes of growing up that would be achingly familiar to most, without going over-the-top.

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4) Gone Girl trailer #1

Advertising a twisty thriller can be a challenge for any film, and Gone Girl was no different in that regard. This trailer, however, focuses on mood rather than plot, managing to effectively convey the uncertain nature of the central mystery, while also pushing through the idea that nothing is as it seems. The character transition at the trailer’s core, from desperate husband to prime suspect, is also pulled off in an expert fashion, further drawing people in to the movie.

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3) When Marnie Was There Trailer #1

Studio Ghibli films have always been known for their beautiful imagery, and the justification of their reputation is clear in the When Marnie Was There trailer. Eschewing dialogue and voiceovers, this trailer instead lets a haunting tune play out over a series of images of the film, drawing the audience in by showcasing the painstaking work of the animators. It’s a great way to show the film’s appeal to any audience, regardless of language.

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2) Under The Skin International trailer #1

Conveying the mood and atmosphere of a movie is a tricky feat, but the best trailers are able to do just that. The trailer for Under The Skin joins those ranks, as it uses a group of disjointed but stark images and a minimalist score to present the film, drawing viewers in without giving anything away. It’s a testament to the effectiveness of the trailer that the mention of Kubrick doesn’t seem needlessly hyperbolic, and the bits of dialogue that are given only serve to heighten the mystery, rather than provide context.

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1) Birdman Trailer #1

This trailer takes the quote of “a picture is worth a thousand words” to heart, showing the weariness of the lead character through actions before a word of dialogue is uttered. From there, the trailer freely mixes in real and fantasy shots, leaving the viewers with a sense of disorientation that clearly is meant to mirror the lead’s state of mind. Lest the audience consider the film to be overly serious, however, the final fight lays to rest any questions about the film’s tone.


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