In the age of Netflix, hundreds of television channels, and video games of the highest quality, there are more entertainment options competing for your time and money. Therefore, a movie trailer has to work extra hard to sell its final product to discerning audiences. Alas, 2014 had no shortage of thrillingly edited, beautifully scored, spoiler-free ads.
Movie trailers are still the most important marketing tools in cinema today. So, how can one objectively rank the trailers for hundreds of releases in a year and narrow it down to just ten of the best? Well, one has to use certain criteria to fairly rank how effective the two-minute film preview is. For this feature, I used four criteria to decide which trailers ranked above the rest:
Foremost, the trailer had to be original. Many genres have certain trailer conventions: action movies finish with a quickly edited FX reel, horror movies close off with a jump scare, etc. So, which ones resist the ordinary trailer tropes and try for something more unique?
The next two criteria are editing, and music and sound. Like a normal film, the pacing of the trailer often builds to a climax. The images must be clear enough for someone to follow what is going on, or one risks confusing the audience. Meanwhile, a stirring musical score, a rousing song or the dramatic use of sound effects helps the footage to linger much longer in the viewer’s mind. (Some scores and songs are used so memorably in the trailer that they become synonymous with the film, even if said compositions are not in the final feature.)
Another criterion for this column – and probably the most important – is the lack of spoilers. In the 90 to 150 seconds, we should get a taste of what the film will be like. If we see too much of the story, then why would we waste a few more hours to see what we already know is going to happen? Ads that hint at the film’s spirit, themes and story without giving away too many pertinent details can be very satisfying.
So, with that being said, here are the top 10 movie trailers of 2014. I am sure there are wonderful trailers that did not make this list – and it is likely they just missed the cut, as there were 30 semi-finalists that were then narrowed down to 10 – so feel free to add some of your choices in the comments below.
Please also note that these were all trailers released in 2014, and this list includes some 2015 titles. Meanwhile, previews that came out in 2013 for 2014 films were not in contention.