The Top Ten Trailers of All Time

Chrestomath
4 min readNov 7, 2023

Another fun list post

Going to focus on relatively recent movies and games. There are some classic older trailers, sure, but for most you really had to be there. Trailers as an art form are quite different in the age of YouTube. Also note that for this list, aside from a few exceptions, the trailers were better than the final product.

Without further ado

# Honorable Mentions:

DC Universe Online

Arkham Origins

Super Mario Odyssey

Joker

Logan

Whiplash

Inception

#10: Godzilla King of the Monsters

This one was memorable for its brilliant use of music. Clair De Lune is not generally associated with giant monsters destroying cities. Yet here we are, and it works flawlessly. I still get chills seeing Mothra’s wings expand right as the chorus comes in.

#9: Suicide Squad

By far the best thing about this film is its trailer. There is an idea of a really fun movie here. The budget and talent were all there. Even Jared Leto’s Joker in small bits looked decent. The song choice works, obviously. Using anything by Queen is basically a cheat code. I still like to watch this and just imagine my own story for it. Real shame about the finished product.

#8: Zach Snyder’s Justice League

Another one in large part carried by great song choice. What really elevates this is the story behind it. No one really thought #ReleaseTheSnyderCut would actually go anywhere. Then out of nowhere we get a three minute trailer of almost all new footage. It still feels somewhat like a dream. The redemption arcs for Flash and Cyborg are teased nicely. Black suit Superman goes hard too. As I wrote in my review, ZSJL is an unprecedented film. It deserved and got an unprecedented trailer to match.

#7: Cyberpunk 2077

This was the best cinematic trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 and yet also a sign of the disappointment that was to come. Sure it spoiled an important plot point, but the trailer told a great little self-contained story. It had fantastic tension, music, action, and truly Hollywood-level directing. I still get hype when Bug starts hacking V after he takes out the guard. The Keanu Reeves reveal at the end was a nice surprise and would have worked if the devs had been content to just use him as a cameo. Unfortunately it just didn’t work out that way.

#6: Us

I haven’t watched this movie yet. I sort of don’t want to because there’s no way the film can live up to its work of art trailer. The remix of I Got 5 On It is just perfectly unnerving. It’s such a well-edited two and a half minutes. Can’t say much more because I don’t know the story. I liked Nope. I’ll give this a try eventually.

#5: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

As I wrote in my recent post on disappointing games, this one really broke my heart. MGSV had the potential to be the GOAT of GOATs of gaming. The story teased here was so epic and multifaceted. The torture scenes, those two great songs, the x-rays with story text, that long gameplay introduction — I honestly don’t think there has been a videogame trailer since that has topped it. What’s sad is that when I rewatch it I don’t really have to imagine a better story or game. It was already a near perfect game with a near perfect story. If it weren’t for that one. stupid. twist.

Sigh…

#4: The Social Network

That haunting cover of Creep is not the only thing that carries it. The dialogue is excellent. “I can’t wait to stand over your shoulder and watch you write us a check.” “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.” Shot for shot it is just a masterful piece of storytelling. We all know Facebook. We all know Mark Zuckerburg. How do you make that story compelling? You do precisely what they did here.

#3: Man of Steel

People often complain about trailers revealing too much of the story. This trailer is absolutely guilty of that and yet, it works. It works because it’s frickin’ Superman. Everyone already knows his story. So why not embrace that with an epic trailer carried by an epic new theme? From the first crazy shot showing the destruction of Krypton I was hooked. Once he started flying I was out of my seat. No, the actual movie didn’t quite live up to what was promised here. But it sure as hell tried. I still respect the hell out of this movie. Henry deserved better. This trailer speaks to the early promise of the DCEU. Alas, they flew too close to the sun.

#2: Gone Girl

Another long story-focused trailer. What makes it work is the slow burn of growing tension and complexity. The dialogue hooks you in, especially Amy’s inner monologue. It creates a genuine mystery. You go into the movie with so many questions. Did he or didn’t he? Then you watch the actual film and…well. I had mixed feelings. It certainly wasn’t bad though! And the trailer represented the vibe quite well.

#1: Interstellar

This one is my number one simply because it is one of my favorite movies. It is a rare example of a film that not only lives up to the promise of its trailer but actually surpasses it. It takes an ambitious story to be worthy of the song “Every Reborn.” It also takes great performances and epic dialogue, two things Interstellar has in droves. It remains Christopher Nolan’s most audacious film.

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Chrestomath

“If you wish to be a writer, write.” ~ Epictetus