The Best Movie Trailers of 2018
A lot has changed at the movie theater since I was a kid. Almost every multiplex offers reserved seating, and many have full food menus and even wait service. Stadium seating comes standard and there’s almost no actual film left in the film world. But here’s one constant: I still show up at least 15 minutes early to every show, because I like to watch the trailers. They help you keep track of what movies are coming out, they are an artform unto themselves, and sometimes if you’re lucky they have sad covers of famous pop songs! Those always bring a tear to my eye.
And now we turn to selecting the best trailers of 2018. As in our best posters of the year list, the key is not when the movie comes out but when the trailer comes out. Black Panther had several incredible trailers, but they were released in 2017 — in fact, one topped this list at this time last year. Wakanda is forever, but it’s still disqualified, sorry.
With that important note, here are the 15 best trailers of 2018...
It was a risk ending the trailer for Venom with an extended Venomologue about how he is going to eat a burglar’s various body parts until all that’s left looks like “a turd ... in the wind.” That’s why we loved it. The finished film could have used more moments of gonzo insanity like this.
14. Under the Silver Lake
Under the Silver Lake has yet to reach theaters (originally slated for a late 2018 release, it’s now due next April) but the reason I’m still eagerly awaiting it is this excellent trailer, which starts with one tone and then transitions very smoothly to another, showing you (I assume) the full, quirky range of stuff going on in this laconic detective thriller.
After so many middling-to-awful sequels, any new Halloween has to establish its bonafides and seriousness, and this trailer does that with aplomb. Starting with extended excerpts from the centerpiece sequence of the film where Michael Myers wanders a Haddonfield neighborhood indiscriminately murdering innocent victims — done in a single long take like the opening of the original John Carpenter Halloween — tells the viewer this is going to be a striped-down and extremely faithful follow-up.
12. The Beach Bum
I cannot conceive of a person who could watch this clip and not want to see this film.
It’s not easy to sell a Gaspar Noé movie — you have to allude to all of the various adult contents without showing much of them, lest you incur the wrath of assorted censoring bodies. This trailer for Noé’s upcoming Climax does a fine job of teasing all the sex, drugs, dancing, etc. and the grace notes — like the pull quotes that magically interact with the action screen — are on point.
10. Detective Pikachu
I would describe myself as Pokeagnostic — but even I was won over by the trailer for Detective Pikachu, with Ryan Reynolds voicing everyone’s favorite electricity-generating furball in a mystery that will take audiences through the magical world of Pokemon. Convincing non-fans to give this one a chance will be a huge challenge, one this trailer went a long way towards conquering.
9. Madeline’s Madeline
Here’s an extremely innovative approach to marketing a very unconventional movie. Whether it’s really “effective” is up for debate. Whether it’s beautiful is not.
8. Bad Times at the El Royale
The big trailer trend of 2018 was percussion sound effects, and while the trick — which adds a sense of urgency and cool to pretty much everything — has already gotten a little played out, it’s hard to argue with the results in the trailer for Bad Times at the El Royale, which was a far more satisfying experience at two minutes than two hours.
I’m not sure if this trailer would convince someone to pay to see Tully — its depiction of the terrors of modern parenthood are so accurate it gave me combat-shock flashbacks to my own sleepless nights with my babies — but the darn thing is so cleverly cut together I had to put it on this list. (I didn’t watch it again, though, because I don’t need to go back to that dark, horrifying place.)
6. The Favourite
This one is similar in structure to Under the Silver Lake, and even more effective — it opens with lighthearted comedy, and then the music turns weird and ominous and the tension rises between the characters, and you’ve gotten a very good taste of what The Favourite is all about.
It had the best movie poster of 2018 and one of the best trailers; the marketing for BlacKkKlansman was not messing around. This one opens with our hero, an African American cop, confessing on the phone about all his various prejudices in order to convince David Duke (!) that he’s ready to join the Ku Klux Klan. It only gets more confrontational from there. The cutting back and forth from the various groups screaming “White power!” and “Black power!” is taken straight from the film itself, but this clip (which ends with Duke toasting to “America first!”) has an energy all its own.
4. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
The music, the clips of kids worshiping Fred Rogers, Rogers himself explaining his theories about children and how all relationships are rooted in love; this thing could give your tear ducts an acute case of dehydration. Like the documentary itself, the trailer for Won’t You Be My Neighbor? brings you back to your childhood, and the days when you would come home from school, take off your own shoes, and while away the afternoon watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
3. Avengers: Endgame
A couple hundred million Marvel fans can’t be wrong. It’s a credit to this thing that after the months of hype, it still felt like it was worth the wait. And after all the mopey shots of the Avengers feeling sad, the out-of-nowhere coda with Ant-Man is absolutely perfect.
2. Mission: Impossible — Fallout
To be sure, these movies are partly conceived with trailers in mind — “What crazy-ass thing can we make Tom Cruise do that’ll look great when we use five seconds of it in the trailer?” But just because a thing is calculated doesn’t automatically make it effective. The Fallout trailer hits every conceivable beat: It’s fun, it’s scary (why are news reports reporting on “nuclear attacks”?), and yes it has Tom Cruise jumping from rooftops and piloting helicopters. Just take my money already, dude.
1. A Star Is Born
With just a couple of notes on the guitar, Bradley Cooper made everyone believe in an umpteenth remake of A Star Is Born. And then, with just a couple of belted-out notes from “Shallow,” Lady Gaga made it a must-see. No other trailer of 2018 had a more compelling sales pitch, or a more beautifully melancholic vibe.
Gallery - The Best Movie Posters of 2018: