Not willing to repeat the mistake of my 2011’s worst posters article, where I foolishly declared that no poster would plumb the depths reached by the X-Men face-violation posters as long as we could still take breath to sigh at its unrivalled awfulness. Then the poster for New Year’s Eve appeared, and through a stylistic combination of self-satisfaction, design inconsistency and a thoroughly misguided attempt at dazzling with cumulative star-wattage (Til Scheweiger AND Bon Jovi!), it made me attempt to tie knots in my optic nerves…

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Why does Ashton Kutcher look like he was photographed in the street? Perhaps he was so busy having his legs removed for his new role in 2 and a Half Men to look annoying in a studio environment. And what have they done to Natalie Portman’s nose in the bottom middle square? It’s like a Poltergiest inspired advent calendar: you’re going to want to close each door as soon as you’re exposed to the horrors on the other side, even at the expense of the helpful, mystic midget trapped on the other side.

But that’s enough of printed horrors. Since I didn’t make it out to the cinema as much as I’d like in 2011, as the films I was eagerly awaiting kind of disappointed (Kill List was excellent for the most part, and may have been my film of the year if I’d died before the final ten minutes), I’ve decided to list my 9 favourite trailers from last year. I couldn’t think of a tenth so please feel free to suggest one in the comments section below.

Now, on with the list…

9. Biutiful

Biutifil’s trailer ticks all the boxes: it offers a lot of well shot stuff happening at a fast-tempo then slows things down and offers an equally stunning array of shots at a more languid pace, conveying a moving and hard-bitten piece of work. And it does all of this without spoiling a darn thing. Trailer editors, take note!

8. I Saw the Devil

I Saw the Devil’s trailer sells the concept and tone perfectly. The concept is a revenge film; the tone is Loony Tunes with emphasis on the ‘loony’. It’s entertaining, intriguing and makes you want to watch the full thing. I once described it to a friend as ‘James Bond vs. Fred West’ and the trailer offers all that entails without appearing like the most ridiculous film of all time.

7. Tree of Life

If a new film by Terence Malick wasn’t enough to make you visit the cinema then the trailer almost certainly should have been. It’s beautiful, intriguing, unsettling, joyous and rather good.

6. X-Men First Class

When it came to the film’s marketing, First Class’ trailers were doing all the work. The film’s one-sheets were so bad that several commentators were convinced that the actual film being good was as scientifically impossible as meeting a large blue and furry scientist. Then the trailer was released and it looked very good indeed. In fact, just watching it again makes me want to revisit it, which is both testament to the trailer and the equally enjoyable film that followed.

5-3. Hobbit/Prometheus/ Dark Knight Rises

The last week of December was an almost embarrassingly rich time for fans of 2012’s most promising big-budget releases. First up was The Dark Knight Rises which offered a spine-tingling snapshot of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy capper, despite not explaining much. Still, it’s apparent that the enjoyment of the rich sports fans of Gotham will be in direct contrast to the viewers’, which is no bad thing.

The Hobbit trailer followed and offered a nostalgiac return to Middle-Earth without being overly cynical and cloying. It made me remember how earnest Peter Jackson’s films were, and how refreshing that was when they were first released. And then I remembered that it’s been 10 years since the first one opened the door to epic fantasy filmmaking that wore its heart on its sleeve, and we still haven’t seen anything like it since. Still, absence makes the heart and all that, which makes The Hobbit even more keenly anticipated.

The trailer for Prometheus also offered a return to a familiar world under the stewardship of a director who opened the door to a brave new world of genre filmmaking. Unlike The Hobbit, the world of Prometheus only makes you want to visit from the comfort of a cinema seat. It offers little in the way of plot, aside from a few familiar elements from Alien, but even without the appearance of the xenomorphs, it’s impressive to see a hard sci-fi film on this scale and unless Fox decide to digitally insert Predators at the eleventh hour, we could be seeing a welcome return to form from both Mr Scott and the genre.

2. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

If you haven’t read the book, you’ve seen the Swedish original. If you can’t read you’ve probably had it recommended to you. In fact there’s little of Stieg Larsson’s world that hasn’t been explored or revealed in one form or another. And while that offered intriguing possibilites for David Fincher’s adaptation, it also offered up a trailer that made no attempt to explain the concept, aside from a bleak tone and knowing wink. It’s a superior match of editing, shots and music and, since it appears to have been officially released in bootleg form, you could also say it’s an interesting approach to viral marketing. Even more telling, the trailer offers far more food for thought than the actual film.

1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

One of X-Men First Class’ other great additions was the score by Henry Jackman, in particular the memorable ‘Frankenstein’s Theme’, which is used to great effect in the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy trailer. The theme gives the trailer a sense of urgency that may have been lacking in the final film but the John Barry styled strings perfectly complement the film’s period setting and make the viewer long for a time when they made proper films for grown-ups.

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