Movie trailers are an art form unto themselves; to deny this is like denying climate change – only the uneducated or deliberately ignorant would contest it. Each movie trailer released in any year requires hours of combing through footage from any number of production units (often during shooting schedules for larger productions), countless days of editing, selection of the right music for one or more parts, and for many blockbusters or higher-profile films, a near campaign-like tease barrage before the actual trailers are even released. We even have trailers for trailers in the form of short burst teasers. In light of all this, many trailers released during a single calendar year require artistic ingenuity and innovation far above what’s actually required to sell a film in order to be remembered above the rest, and this fact means that every year there are some trailers that don’t simply sell the movies they’re promoting – they sell themselves as well. With all that in mind, and a few more lists to do before we dive into the Best & Worst movies of the previous year, here are my picks for the Top 10 Movie Trailers of 2019. (I’ll leave links to each of the trailers embedded in the titles.)
10. Ad Astra – Official Trailer
The second trailer for James Gray’s sci-fi Brad Pitt vehicle was more accurate to the meditative nature of the film overall, but it’s the initial trailer that ultimately got butts in seats by teasing a sci-fi action thriller with moon chase sequences and a central mystery boosted by some remarkable visual effects. The music may have ended a tad on the overdramatic side when the title card came up, but apart from that, this trailer contained just about everything anyone would need to justify seeing a space epic in September. Regardless of the film’s somewhat disappointing results, on the whole, it boasted a solid marketing campaign, and this first trailer is the primary example of why it worked in any way as well as it did.
9. Cats – Official Trailer
Oh, the horrors that lay within. Cats is an abomination and shouldn’t be seen by human or feline eyes (dogs might enjoy seeing their rivals decimated by such a trash pile), but this first trailer might as well have placed it in the Best Picture category by itself. Yes, the visuals are horrifying, and selling the film by stating it has the same choreographer as an infinitely superior Broadway show is just all sorts of transparently awful, but the way the trailer flows in the editing, with Jennifer Hudson belting “Memory” loud enough to convince even the most anti-cat person to at least give her a chance, could be worthy of awards all by itself (especially considering how bad the actual movie ended up being). It may not have advertised one of the best movies of the year, but for better or worse, this is the trailer that got everyone talking about the film at hand, and that’s not nothing.
8. Joker – Final Trailer
Both trailers for Todd Phillips’ “standalone” film about the origins of DC Comics’ most notorious bad guy were well-received upon release, though the film has not faired quite as well with many critics (even if the awards bodies keep needlessly fawning over it). Luckily, we’re not here to talk about the movie Joker, just the trailers for it, and the second of those trailers turned up the dial on the demented factor, giving us an almost uncomfortably close look at the demise of Arthur Fleck’s sanity. We also caught a glimpse of the infamous Joker laugh (per Joaquin Phoenix), and a better understanding of what this version of Gotham was going to look like, all backed up by a musical score that feels totally in line with the movie’s tone and (unfortunately) self-aggrandizing thematics. Joker is not as good as a surprising amount of people seem to think it is, but if it had ended up being as good as its trailers were, we’d likely be looking at a lot more than just a few Oscar wins coming down the pipeline.
7. Uncut Gems – Official Trailer
I still haven’t written a full review for this, despite having seen it while in France (frankly, I don’t know if I will be able to get to doing that), but the trailer for Josh and Benny Safdie’s Good Time follow-up, Uncut Gems might as well have been only the going up part of a roller coaster, because the tension wrapped inside those few minutes remains astoundingly palpable. The music compliments the hectic nature of the story, Adam Sandler is giving a career-best performance for the first time in a very long time, and the editing is absolutely killer (and that’s all just for the trailer). For what it’s worth, I didn’t love Uncut Gems as much as a lot of critics seem to, but I did love the trailer, and that means it gets to stay on this list.
6. Little Women – Official Trailer
Sometimes all one needs is the promise of a great ensemble taking on a classic story with a great director behind the wheel, and that’s exactly what we got in the trailer for Greta Gerwig’s take on the Louisa May Alcott classic Little Women. Saoirse Ronan returning as Gerwig’s muse, Queen Florence Pugh closing out her 2019 with one of the best trailers (and films) of the year, and the added bonuses of Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep showing up to fill in the main supporting cast. What’s not to love about that?
5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Official Trailer
Quentin Tarantino’s 9th film was always going to get some hype thrown its way, and the first trailer got it off to a good start, but it’s the second one that really sells this idea of Hollywood’s last golden days in 1969 fading into the distance as it teases one of the best ensembles put together in any movie of 2019. The music, the shot selection, the editing – everything is very Tarantino, and while the film itself may be a little more relaxed than the marketing campaign was, on the whole, everything about this trailer works as perfectly as it was ever going to.
4. Ford v Ferrari – Official Trailer
Ford v Ferrari is one of the absolute best films of 2019 for several reasons, but without a solid trailer package, no one who didn’t see Logan would have known that. The second trailer does a little bit better of a job demonstrating the fast-paced nature of this ultimate dad movie, and the thrill of racing, but it’s the first one that indicates something truly special is coming down the track. The second trailer shows us what the movie contains, but the first one shows us what kind of movie it is, and setting the right tone is always the most crucial first step to getting people interested. And if the box office numbers and critical reception are anything to go by, people are more than interested.
3. No Time to Die Trailer
Ana de Armas is the new Bond girl, Lashana Lynch is the new 007, Daniel Craig is bowing out, and Fleabag scribe Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been brought on as a writer for the project, with Beasts of No Nation director Cary Fukunaga in the driver’s seat. That alone should be enough to get anyone excited about this new entry in the iconic James Bond franchise, but lucky for us, we also got a trailer just as the year was coming to a close. It’s sexy, it’s sleek, it’s very James Bond, and Rami Malek looks to make an incredibly personal sort of villain for Craig’s Bond of the type we haven’t seen before. Sure, the production doesn’t have Roger Deakins on board like Skyfall did, so the cinematography doesn’t feel quite as masterful, but if all goes right, this could be the best entry not just of the Daniel Craig run, but of the entire Bond franchise.
2. Wonder Woman 1984 – Official Trailer
If you don’t start tapping your foot once “Blue Monday” starts to kick in over this incredible footage, I honestly don’t know if you can be helped. Wonder Woman 1984 is one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, and with Patty Jenkins back at the helm, this trailer signals a continuation of tone for the DCEU that put out Aquaman and Shazam!, indicating that it has, indeed, finally found its groove. The trailer itself showcases some beautiful footage of Gal Gadot swinging on lightning, a ton of gorgeous 1980’s production design, that trademark Patty Jenkins humor from the first film in the credits tag, and Pedro Pascal as a “business man” villain named Maxwell Lord (who definitely doesn’t resemble a certain President we all know) having a hell of a time. We’ll see how Chris Pine being back works or doesn’t in the course of the film’s narrative, as well as whether they can pull off a better third act than last time, but for now, Wonder Woman 1984 looks all kinds of awesome.
1. Bombshell Official Teaser
No one was prepared for this trailer to drop when it did, and no one was prepared for it to be as awesome as it was. Without all but zero words uttered between any of its three lead actresses, Bombshell’s teaser trailer dropped us right into the middle of the most tense elevator ride since The Winter Soldier (albeit without any choregraphed fight sequences), and let us just sit there for almost a full minute as these names came up on the screen, with all their Oscar accolades above them: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie. And then, the real bombshell dropped, as the elevator doors opened, and we saw the Fox News placard hanging on the wall, realizing in the span of a microsecond what this film is about, what it’s going to include, and why everything was so tense just a few seconds ago. And then it closes on a shot of the most impressive makeup job of the year with Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelley. I haven’t seen Bombshell as of yet myself, but if there were an Oscars for movie trailers (I’m pretty sure there is, but I can’t recall the name at the moment), this trailer would win the top prize by an exorbitant number of miles.
And those are my picks for the Top 10 Best Movie Trailers of 2019! What are some of your favorite trailers of 2019? Any you think should be included? Let me know in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!
- The Friendly Film Fan
Honorable Mentions: 1917 Trailer #2, Avengers: Endgame Trailer #2, Frozen II Trailer #2, The Goldfinch Trailer #2, The Irishman Final Trailer, The Lighthouse Trailer #1, Yesterday Official Trailer