Sample Trailers

Fifth Annual Cosmique Movie Awards

 

Last year, a new category was created to recognize that film trailers are themselves an art form, regardless of the merits of the movie they promote. Movie trailers are an important part of the cinematic experience. They appear before every movie in the theaters (and increasingly on videos and DVDs) and help get us in the mood to watch movies. More importantly, they help us decide what to go see.

Some expose us to films we might not have heard about otherwise. Some open our eyes to something possibly interesting that we might otherwise ignore or prejudge. Some serve to "rally the troops," to get us excited about something we already planned to see anyway. And some trailers are pure art in their own right - trailers that suck us in, trick us, captivate us, make us excited about the movies even if we never plan to see that particular one.

To help voters decide, the Board of Governors has provided links to a sampling of trailers for interested voters to review. Voters are naturally not constrained to nominate strictly from this list; they are provided simply to help trigger your thoughts. But remember, voters are nominating based on the artistry of the trailer itself independent of the merits of the film itself.

You may need to download and install QuickTime or any other software capable of playing .mov files before being able to play these. In addition, a fast Internet connection is recommended.

 

Our Top Favorites

1. Garden State - Teaser Trailer
2. Troy - Teaser Trailer
3. The Phantom of the Opera - Teaser Trailer
4. The Dreamers - Full Trailer
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Teaser/Full Hybrid Trailer

 

 

Featured Trailers

 
Alexander

I'm not entirely convinced that Colin Farrell was the right person to cast as Alexander the Great. The blond hair, for one thing, remains distracting throughout. But the trailer is nevertheless compelling - by the time Farrell appears, the trailer is half over and the mood as been set. We see enough dramatic battle sequences to get a hint of the film's scope and cinematography, and the final shot of Alexander on horseback confronting an enemy mounted on an elephant is chillingly powerful.

 
Alfie

The trailer for Alfie wisely focuses on the film's most powerful asset: Jude Law's disarming charm. He addresses the audience directly in the trailer, just as in the film - but while the clips come from the film itself, they are spliced together so cleverly that the trailer almost seems to have extra footage of the character trying to talk trailer audiences into coming out again to see Alfie. I liked the film better than most critics, but even I have to admit that the trailer is better than the film it promotes.

 
Alien versus Predator

The teaser trailer for Alien versus Predator is dark, menacing, and threatening. In the theaters, first-time viewers who didn't know the film was coming were clearly baffled at first and then shocked when they figured it out. It's a powerful teaser. Although the full trailer shows a bit more, the additional shots are little more than added imagery - almost an expanded teaser.

 

The Aviator

It is being heralded as one of the great films of the year, likely to get Oscar nominations in most of the major categories, and well deserving of them. I'm not convinced that the trailer really does justice to the film's full merits, which are considerable, but they do give a hint of Cate Blanchett's extraordinary performance as Katharine Hepburn.

 

Closer

Closer is a great character-driven film, and its emotional core is captured by the trailer. One of my favorite films of the year, and a top trailer, too.

 

The Day After Tomorrow

I admit it, the teaser trailer totally sucked me in and got me interested in this film (which I hadn't even heard of until it played months before the movie opened). There were actually a series of teaser trailers, but we've opted to only include one teaser plus the full trailer.

 

De-Lovely

The trailer nicely showcases the celebrity performances of its many cameos, especially of Alanis Morissette and Robbie Williams, but annoyingly hints at without mentioning his bisexuality, an important theme of the film. Perhaps that serves a positive, albeit devious, purpose of luring in audiences that would have been otherwise prejudiced in order to enlighten them...but more likely, it was to lure them in to part them from their money.

 
The Door in the Floor

Translating John Irving's novel A Widow for One Year would have been all but impossible, so the filmmakers wisely decided to only film the first third of the novel. From the trailer, we get a sense of the film's melancholy pathos and the powerful performances delivered by both Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger. But the film's actual storyline is left ambiguous, which is fine, though perhaps difficult to attract audiences that way. And we also do not get a hint of the humor that infuses the film. The trailer was therefore tantalizing enough to get me to the theater, but really doesn't do justice to the final film.

 

The Dreamers

The Dreamers is a sophisticated, troubling, erotic drama by Bernardo Bertolucci, and its trailer manages to capture the essence of this. It's one of my favorite films of the year, and one of my favorite trailers as well.

 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Jim Carrey's best films (in my opinion) are his more serious ones, like Man on the Moon and The Truman Show. And while Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is technically promoted as a comedy (as attested by the nature of its Golden Globe nominations), it's one of his more serious films. And it absolutely his best to date. The trailer is a strange hybrid - much like a teaser is many ways, but a little more detailed than most. Like many teasers, it starts with a bit of a fake-out, mimicking a commercial for the fictional company that appears in the film. When it segues to show elements of the film itself, much of it is like a teaser trailer (flashes of imagery without a detailed plot perspective), but enough substance is provided to give the gist of the film. It's a brilliant trailer and it worked for me - it got me into the theater.

 

Fahrenheit 9/11

Would the trailer, by itself, get a Bush supporter into the theater? Probably not. But it is undeniable that the film has had the biggest impact of any documentary of all time. Bush partisans may deny it, given the re-election of the President, but the box office are undeniable, and they have restored some luster to the documentary genre. 

 
Finding Neverland

It's a charming movie, and the trailer does a good job capturing both its whimsy and its pathos.

 

Flight of the Phoenix

Probably not the most compelling remake of the year, but the thing that caught my attention with the trailer was Giovanni Ribisi - he looks and sounds so different here that it wasn't until the end of the trailer that I finally placed who he was.

 

Garden State

The teaser trailer for Garden State is absolutely my favorite trailer of the year. Teaser trailers tend to be released early, many months (and even up to a year) before the film is scheduled for release. As a teaser, they whet our appetites by providing flashes of imagery to get our attention, but little substance to explain the plot. Sometimes this is by necessity; by the time the teaser is released, the film may not have shot all of its footage, or may not have completed all of the post-production special effects. But sometimes it's just a clever marketing ploy to get our attention. And the teaser trailer for Garden State does just that - flashes of imagery and music to capture the mood and show off two of the film's great strengths: its cinematography and set design, and its soundtrack. The full trailer then takes the teaser one step further to provide a brief glimpse of the characters and story. Both are excellent in their own right, but the teaser is absolutely (in my opinion) the best of the year.

 

Good Bye Lenin!

I confess that I have a hard time with foreign-language films. Reading subtitles can make it challenging to get sucked into a film. And I generally tune out immediately when I start to see subtitles in a trailer. Some foreign-language films, recognizing this barrier, avoid dialog and subtitles entirely in their trailers, preferring images, music, and voice-over narration to sell the film. But Good Bye Lenin takes another route. The film's star speaks directly to the audiences, personally narrating his problem. And then the trailer, which at first seems dramatic and heavy, changes the music and the tempo, and all of a sudden we realize we're in for a comedy. Well, it worked - it got me to come back to see a non-English film, and that says a lot.

 
Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle

Not every film needs to be high art. Sometimes we go to the theater just for some escapist fun. And sometimes those films deserve recognition, too. Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was one of my favorite "guilty pleasures" of 2004, and it was the trailer that persuaded me to go. The final part of the trailer revealing the Neal Patrick Harris cameo (the second best of the year after Matt Damon's in Eurotrip) totally sold the film to me, and I'm so glad it did. A very silly film. But fun.

 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The teaser trailer got us excited about seeing the third installment of the franchise, even though we really didn't expect to be all that revved up about it. The snippet of the original song "Double Trouble" helped. And the full trailer helped show that this installment would be the darkest of the three.

 

HellBent

From the trailer (made before the Gay.com promotion provided a name for the film), one can be forgiven if it's hard to tell if the film is intended as a horror flick or gay porn. But then, most "mainstream" horror films are easily confused with straight porn, so I guess it's par for the genre and a nice role reversal.

 
A Home at the End of the World

I really, really hate the overly-loud wooshing sound that the filmmakers decided to put between the transitions in the trailer. It would have been fine once when we jump forward from Bobby and Jonathon's childhood to adulthood, but no more than that. Still, don't let that distract you from the merits of an otherwise fine trailer, and a terrific film. (No, you don't get to see Colin Farrell's penis on the trailer or the film or the DVD, but it's still worth seeing.)

 

I Heart Huchabees

From the moment Lily Tomlin first appears in the trailer, it's clear that this isn't going to be your typical movie, even for a comedy...and it isn't. It's a quirky trailer for a quirky movie, both difficult to describe and both thoroughly enjoyable.

 
The Incredibles

Pixar did a whole series of teaser trailers for their newest animated hit. Voters: if you nominate one, be sure to use the name on this site, or describe which one.

 
Kill Bill, Volume 2

The first film's trailer was nominated because it was flashy and exciting. If the trailer for the sequel is nominated, it will be more for its artistic merit.

 
King Arthur

I knew I wanted to see this film the moment I saw the trailer. I knew it wouldn't exactly be canonical - the trailer purported, after all, to be the true story that gave rise to the legend (much like Troy was intended). I was prepared for some unusual and different interpretations, and I'm okay with that. I've read enough Arthurian fiction and scholarly analyses (I have a whole bookshelf devoted to the topic), so I know how varied the interpretations can be. But wow, what a disappointment this film turned out to be! Still, the trailer sucked me into the theater and so in that sense I must credit it as a success.

 

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

I hadn't even heard of the Lemony Snickets books when I first saw the trailer (and judging from the kvetching from die-hard fans about how the film that's trying to cover the first three books in the series had to change too much...well, maybe it's just as well that enjoyed the film first). I was a little hesitant from the trailer, primarily because while I like Jim Carrey's dramas, I'm not a big fan of his over-the-top comedies. But the trailer showed such a dark-comedic feel, like the Addams Family films, that it was compelling enough to see and totally worth it.

 

Love Me If You Dare

I loved this trailer so much that although I missed the film in theaters, the trailer continued to haunt me and compelled me to rent it when it came out on video. The trailer starts with the innocence and charm of a Disney movie, but then slowly gets darker and darker, though the trailer suggests that it always remains a light, romantic comedy. I won't reveal whether or not that's accurate - but remember, the trailer was made by a Hollywood distributor, but the film was not...

 

The Machinist

This is the film for which the already-trim Christian Bale lost over 60 pounds (and then had to rapidly regain to film Batman Begins). The trailer reveals it to be a very intense psychological thriller. Though some critics have given strong praise for the film and have listed Bale's performance as one of the best of the year, it's considered to be a long shot to pick up Oscar nominations.

 
Mean Creek

Mean Creek is one of my favorite under-rated films of the year, and it was the trailer that got me into the theaters to see it. That and Scott Mechlowicz, who delivers such a surprisingly intense performance that he will likely end up on my Best Supporting Actor list, and almost certainly on my Best Male Villain list (though his character is too complex to meet a simplified standard for villainy). It comes out on video a mere two days after nomination ballots are issued, and almost three weeks before they're due, so Cosmo voters will have a chance to preview it before casting their ballots.

 

Mean Girls

At first glance, even the trailer suggests that the film might just be another teen angst flick. Which are fine in their place, and perhaps might even merit a "guilty pleasure" consideration, but rarely more than that. But Mean Girls does rise above the standard fare for the genre, primarily because the screenplay adaptation was penned by the wickedly funny Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live, who also has a supporting role. Rachel McAdams will be on my Best Female Villain list, and this film may well land one of my five Best Screenplay slots as well.

 

The Notebook

It's hard to imagine how Rachel McAdams, who looked almost anorexic in Mean Girls, could turn around and look so gorgeous in this film. The trailer for The Notebook is slow, languorous, and sensual, and in that regards brilliantly captures some of the film's greatest strengths. It will be high on my list of films to consider for Cinematography and Score, not to mention Intimate Actress. (Ryan Gosling will also weigh heavily in consideration for Intimate Actor, too, but it's such a crowded field...)

 

The Phantom of the Opera

The film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera is, like the stage production, long on flash and glitter but short on fully-developed characters or plot. But while that may hamper the full film, it can make for an absolutely brilliant teaser trailer. The notes sound familiar as they first strike, and then flashes of image after image hit us. A mood is set without any effort to explain the plot to anyone unfamiliar with the story. (For those few, a more complete trailer is also provided, and while it, too, is excellent and worth showcasing, it doesn't have quite the same power as the teaser.)

 
Saved!

Such a fun, amusing film (Mandy Moore is my power vote for Best Female Villain), and the trailer really captures the humor and apparent irreverence of the film (though you will have to see it to really appreciate how positive the film really is).

 

Shawn of the Dead

I love trailers that pull a good twist, and Shawn of the Dead does just that - starts with the somber, scary horror movie cliché and then pulls back and lets you know that this one will be a more of a parody of the genre. Classic move.

 

Sideways

I confess that while I liked the trailer for Sideways, it didn't make me want to run out and see the film. In fact, it wasn't until it did so well with critics (a majority of whom have now named it as their favorite film of the year) and at the Golden Globes (and likely the Oscars as well) that I sat up and took notice. I did see it eventually. But it wasn't the trailer that sold me on it, I'm afraid.

 

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

The film's greatest strengths come from its cinematography, special effects, and visual appeal - and all of that is excellently captured in this classic trailer. Definitely on my list for Best Cinematography/Set Design.

 

Spider-Man 2

Who wasn't waiting for this one to come out? The teaser trailer came out more than six months before the film was released, and totally got the juices going. It's a different kind of teaser - rather than being all action, the first part of the trailer is actually an unusually long (for a trailer) clip of an important scene, which is then followed by flashes of the principle characters and action shots. The full trailer is also excellent, but it's the teaser that's really high art.

 

SpongeBob Squarepants: The Movie

I couldn't bear to bring myself to see this film, but I have to admit that I was totally conned by the submarine teaser trailer. There were actually a lot of teaser and full trailers for this one, but this was my favorite.

 

Touch of Pink

I thought at first that Kyle McLaughlin must have shot a little extra footage for the trailer when he introduces the protagonist while in character as Cary Grant (the protagonist's imaginary friend). After re-watching the film, I realize that it was just clever editing. The film was one of my favorite films at the Frameline Film Festival, and a good trailer in its own right.

 

Troy

The teaser trailer was, in my mind, absolutely brilliant - better than the film, actually (though I enjoyed the film more than most did). The trailer starts off slowly, focusing on a single ship while a voice-over narrator intones solemnly about the Trojan War. But then the camera pulls back to show more ships, and then an entire sea of ships, to demonstrate to epic scale of the war...and the film. From that it jumps into quick flashes of the principle stars and action shots from the film. More so that the full trailer, the teaser worked to get my heart racing, my adrenalin pumping, and got me motivated to see the film on opening day.

 

 
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