Monday, December 5, 2022

What We Look For In Trailers

By Celia Schelekewey 

​​We are knee-deep in summer movie trailer season which really kicked off today with the much-anticipated trailer for “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker.”

​So we thought it would be a good idea to poll the Next Best Picture team and ask them what do they hope to see in a movie trailer?



​Matt Neglia
(@NextBestPicture)

When it comes to movie trailers, for me it’s all about the rhythm and editing with the music used in the trailer. An exciting song or piece of music either from the film or specifically made for the trailer can highlight a film’s epic qualities and get your blood pumping in a way that gets you very excited with anticipation for what is to come. The best trailer to do this in recent memory is “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” where the song victim was used by Imagine Dragons to awesome effect!

Daniel Howat (@howatdk)

For a trailer to work, it needs to sell me on the basic plot, the talent, and the vibe of the film. For a trailer to truly impress me, it needs to do all of that in a way that can move me. Whether [it] excites me, gives me goosebumps, or [makes me] genuinely laugh, excellent trailers don’t just sell the film; they’re an experience on their own. The best trailer in recent memory is for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” Brilliant editing, unique music choice, and exciting action.

Dan Bayer (@dancindanonfilm)

I love movie trailers that don’t feel like they’re showing me the whole movie – or even just all the best parts of the movie. That SHOULD be a no-brainer, but there are far too many trailers that make me feel like I don’t have to see the movie after watching them. I think the ones that work best often center themselves around a piece of music – like the trailers for “The Handmaiden” and “La La Land” – or around what ends up being (or at least feeling like) one scene – like the teasers for last year’s “Tully” and for Melissa McCarthy’s otherwise terrible “Tammy.” Sell me on what the movie FEELS like – the atmosphere, the tone – and I’m much more likely to be in than if you try to tell me the whole story.


​Jacey Aldredge (@jaceyaldredge)

When I watch a trailer, I want to be enticed, moved, and at the edge of my seat. I don’t want to see the full plot of the film span out in 2 minutes. The editing of the trailer makes or breaks it. The most recent trailer I’ve absolutely loved is Jordan Peele’s trailer for “Us”. It was exhilarating, scary, and just plain watchable. The music choices, the juxtapositions of survivalist fear vs a summer family vacation, and the unease of the plot all came across in that 2 minutes without giving away any major spoilers.

DeAnn Knighton (@tweedledeedee33)

Full disclosure I only watch trailers if I have to. I prefer to see movies without having seen the trailer but for the podcast and certainly more of the studio-based films I end up seeing them. Some of my favorites recently: the “IT” teaser trailer from 2017 and I really enjoyed the trailer for the upcoming “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” I like trailers to set the tone without apology or without misdirection and to be less than 30 seconds in length and avoid key plot points. Don’t use the trailer to do exposition and hook audience; we deserve more credit than that and it ruins the first 30 minutes of the film.

Josh Williams (@josh_williams09)

When I watch a trailer I typically look for something that will strike my interest in the film overall. While I have a bias towards certain trailers, like whose starring, whose directing, things like that, I mostly want to be given enough story beats to make me interested in the film. Though I don’t want so much given away where I feel like I’ve seen the entire film, just enough to make me want to see more. My favorite recent trailer is “Avengers: Infinity War.”


​Cody Dericks (@codymonster91)

In a good trailer I want memorable moments without giving too much of the actual movie away. The first teaser for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” really struck me; it got me excited without really telling us anything about the actual plot. If you can hook me with as little information as possible, you made a good trailer.

Beatrice Loayza (@bealoayza)

My favorite trailer in recent memory is “Lucy in the Sky.” Song choice really plays into how I’ll feel about a trailer; music and the way it’s edited will determine whether it builds up to the level of suspense or expectation that will make me excited for the full film. Also, the fewer lame one-liners taken out of context the better.

​Josh Parham (@JRParham)

A good trailer sells atmosphere and tone, never plot. If you can get a sense of the style of the film without spoiling all the important sequences, that’s a much more effective approach. Music is also vital for making a good impression, but avoiding super popular songs that have been overplayed is better. Alien is my all time favorite trailer. Recent ones I’ve enjoyed are “American Animals,” “Phantom Thread,” “Moonlight” and “A Star Is Born.”

Tom O’Brien (@thomaseobrien)

What I look for in a good trailer is an element of surprise. Not a ‘BOO!’ kind of a surprise but one that shows me something about a film that I didn’t know. In a comedy, include a moment that includes a character that shows us some depth — if you can, prove to me that the film is not one big joke book. If it’s a drama, show us at least one dramatic scene or moment that gives us insight into a character or makes us care about her. A great example for me is the first trailer to “A Star Is Born.” Yes, I expected music and dramatic fireworks. That’s fine. What I didn’t expect was the undeniable romantic chemistry between Bradley and Gaga. They didn’t overdo it — the trailer gave us just enough of a taste to make me want to see more. That’s what I mean by surprise.


​Michael Schwartz (@mschwartz95)

A great trailer should be enticing enough so that you want to spend two hours watching a film. It should set up the plot without giving too much away. If the film is branding itself as a spectacle, a good trailer should give us a hint of what to expect. The best trailers leave us wanting more. My favorite trailer from recent memory is “First Man.”

Casey Lee Clark (@CaseyLeeClark)

For me, there are two types of great movie trailers. There is the expository trailer; one that showcases briefly what the film is about, perhaps featuring the opening scene of the film to give an idea of where the story begins and what the rising action may be. The other type of trailer is one that shows a montage of clips from the film with some cool or clever song playing underneath, but otherwise does not really give away any of the film’s plot. A trailer should make you interested in the film, but not give too much away. The less shown and spoiled, the better the experience of watching that film. A recent trailer that I loved and thought did this right was the trailer for “Eighth Grade” because, while it gave a clear idea of what the film was about, it kept many of the pivotal and more shocking scenes out of the trailer.

Danilo Castro (@DaniloSCastro)

For me, a good trailer establishes the tone and characters of a film without giving away plot details or crucial twists. Premise and feel over exposition. It should be an appetizer, unlike so many modern trailers, which try to squeeze the entire meal into a two-minute runtime. A trailer that I recently loved was “Phantom Thread.” The score was prominent, as were the characters and tone, but I still had no idea what was going to happen. Plus it turned out to be a fantastic movie.


​Nicole Ackman (@nicoleackman16)

The main thing that I look for in a movie trailer is that it gives me a good idea what the atmosphere and the heart of the movie are. I don’t really mind if it’s vague on the plot or if it reveals a lot of it, but I want one that paints a full picture of what the movie will feel like. I also always look for effective use of music and a trailer that showcases the cast of the movie, especially as someone who is often drawn to a movie for its supporting cast. My favorite trailer from recent memory is “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”

Kt Schaefer (@kt_schaefer)

I look for film trailers that provide just enough information that it intrigues the audience without giving away any major twists or 3rd act plot points. For comedies it’s imperative that we only see some of the jokes, otherwise why go see the film at all? The worst kind of trailers are the ones that are essentially a very cut down version of the film that goes through all the major plot points. A recent trailer I really enjoyed is “Captain Marvel,” and one of my all time favorites is the one for “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.”

Will Mavity (@mavericksmovies)

I like my trailers like I like my dogs. Spoiled enough to make them engaging and fun but not so much that there’s no happiness and goodness left. The analogy doesn’t really work, but you get the idea. Show me enough to entice me. I want to know *something* about what the movie is about, but leave plenty to my imagination. Please don’t use the Inception “bwaaaaam” sound or an angsty cover of a pop song. Recent favorites include “Prometheus” and “Drive.” Those aren’t recent per se, but they stand out.

And of course, there’s the trailer everyone is talking about for “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker” which you can check out below.

What do you look for in trailers? Were you a fan of today’s trailer for “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker?” Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.

You can follow Celia and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @filmsunstuck

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