The 50 Best Movie Trailers of the Decade

Sometimes trailers are the best part of a movie. These 50 particular trailers were some of the best parts of the decade.
Decade Trailers

This is part of our Decade Rewind. Keep up as we look back at the best, worst, and otherwise interesting movies and shows of the 2010s.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when you go to the movies, sometimes the trailers are the best part. There’s nothing quite like seeing a great trailer, especially on a big screen—the chills, the tantalizing promise of life-changing cinematic greatness just around the corner. Sure, plenty of films fail to live up to their trailer-generated hype. That’s how hype works. But occasionally they do, and those magical few are more than enough to keep us coming back for more, disappointments aside.

The art of making a great trailer is adjacent to, but ultimately independent from, the art of making a great movie. Talented editors have managed to make garbage look like gold, and misguided promotional campaigns have mangled great films into trite or otherwise misleading promos. With that in mind, I took a trip down memory lane to movie outings past, asked my fellow FSR writers their thoughts, and took to Twitter to hear from the general public to try to come up with the most wide-ranging and inclusive of the 50 most entertaining, thrilling, horrifying, or otherwise effective trailers to engage our eyeballs in the 2010s. Sometimes the hype was lived up to, other experiences ended in disappointment, but either way, these were the previews that got us seriously excited—at least for a little while.

50. Super 8 (Teaser)

Can you believe Super 8 came out this decade? Actually, did you even remember it came out at all? Because honestly, I had forgotten. The intriguingly super-secret mystery box ultimately proved to be a just-fine summer popcorn flick. Still, back in the early days, J. J. Abrams managed to stir the hype machine into a proper frenzy with this teaser. This teaser is just 90 seconds of a military cargo train flying off the rails. Basically, just stock footage that could be taken from 5000 other things and utilized in 5000 other things, with an extra dose of lens flare because it’s J. J. Abrams. In terms of artistry, it’s basically the duct-taped banana of trailers. Still, if you consider how effective it was at achieving the ultimate goals of any trailer—generating interest and stirring up talk—that, in itself, is a remarkable achievement worth acknowledging. (Ciara Wardlow)

49. Joker (Teaser)

Let me be upfront: it is only very reluctantly that I write about Todd Phillips’ Joker, a billion-dollar grossing blobfish that inspired the bulk of all the dumbest film-related Twitter fights of all 2019. But I’m trying to be as unbiased as possible in my assessment of what trailers made a marked impact in the 2010s, and this one objectively left a notable dent, much to my chagrin. I’m gonna keep it short. The Joker is easily among the most beloved comic book villains of all time, but after a tremendous cinematic run with Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, Jared Leto’s annoyingly overblown take on the character left a bad taste in the mouth of many. While the prospect of Joaquin Phoenix taking on the titular role was enough to win back some skeptics, it was only with this trailer that the tides truly shifted from “yeah, sure” to truly intrigued. This is a clever, effective trailer, even as someone who considers the actual film neither of those things. (Ciara Wardlow)

48. Bad Times at the El Royale

Several casual moviegoers I’ve met have confused Bad Times at the El Royale for a Tarantino movie, and I can see where they get that idea. With sleek visuals, a nostalgic sheen, an impressive intergenerational cast, and an attitude that seems ready to twist from flippant to violent at any moment, El Royale looks like a movie lover’s movie. If you’re not sold on the stacked cast, maybe the mystery-shrouded premise will draw you in. “It’s a game. It all starts with a simple choice,” a character says, an exciting sentiment for anyone who’s seen Drew Goddard’s previous film, Cabin in the Woods. The swaggering, lightly ironic needle drop underscores scenes with a feeling of can’t-miss action. Plus, who can resist rain-soaked, shirtless Chris Hemsworth? (Valerie Ettenhofer)

47. The Lobster

“And the dog?”
“My brother. He was here a couple of years ago, but he didn’t make it.”
Within 5 seconds, I knew that The Lobster was going to be a weird one. Within 30, I knew I wanted to hand over my money ASAP because I absolutely, positively, needed to see this blue-blooded sea creature of a film for myself. This trailer manages to clearly introduce the film’s concept while also accurately depicting its distinct flavor and style in two short minutes. Impeccably done. (Ciara Wardlow)

46. Crimson Peak

From the moment this trailer tints the Universal logo red and bathes Legendary’s in blood in its opening seconds, you know you’re in for a real treat. While haunted house movies continue to be perennial favorites, the frightfully sumptuous potential of a good gothic romance has been woefully under-appreciated as of late. But at least there’s Guillermo del Toro, perhaps the one and only champion of the cause on the big screen. And with Crimson Peak, he delivers. This trailer is everything. Ghosts. Balls. Hot dudes in impeccably tailored tailcoats with dubious intentions. A bathtub full of blood. Why don’t they make more movies like this, exactly? (Ciara Wardlow)

45. Cloud Atlas (Extended Trailer)

Arguably one of the most important lessons that the entertainment industry learned in the past decade is that epic novels are generally better translated to serial televised formats than films—or, perhaps more accurately, has taken steps towards learning, considering they did try to cram The Goldfinch into a singular movie just this year. That said, if there is one filmed be commended for its epic scale aspirations, it’s this one. Cloud Atlas crams futuristic science fiction, multiple period pieces, and a truly impressive number of plot-lines into one singular cinematic experience. At nearly 6 minutes long, the case could be made that this shouldn’t really be called a trailer, but it’s my list meaning my rules and Cloud Atlas’s efforts deserve commendation. It’s a gorgeous trailer with a suitably epic accompaniment in the form of Tom Tykwer’s score. Your mileage may vary as to whether or not the film totally succeeds, but the scope and ambition so beautifully depicted in this trailer are genuinely awe-inspiring. (Ciara Wardlow)

44. Suicide Squad (“Ballroom Blitz” Trailer)

As more than one person on Twitter commented when I asked the internet’s opinion regarding the best trailers of the decade, Zack Snyder has an incredible talent for making movies that translate into stupid-fun trailers while unfortunately being, in themselves, just unpleasantly stupid. Suicide Squad is arguably the ultimate example of this phenomenon because while this trailer is a big dumb bucket of fun, the actual film is… *sigh.* Let’s just not talk about it. (Ciara Wardlow)

43. Interstellar (Teaser)

Christopher Nolan is an absolute tease. And by that, I mean he’s annoyingly good at making very effective teaser trailers. With some snazzy graphics, archival material, and like two shots of original footage, I’m salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs and scrambling for a pen to mark the date in my calendar. It’s ridiculous. Goddamn that pipe organ for getting to me. (Ciara Wardlow)

42. Cats (Trailer #1)

It felt like the world came to a screeching halt when the Cats trailer was released. It was a workday, but when the first footage from Tom Hooper’s upcoming adaptation of the rather inexplicably successful musical hit the internet, we all collectively dropped what we were doing and watched it immediately. Some in joyful awe. Some in horrified confusion. Most in some strange combination of the two. One imagines the ghost of T. S. Eliot watching all this unfold with an Oppenheimer-like sense of despair. Because what the fuck. Seriously, what the actual fuck. Why do they look like that? Who decided on those proportions? Is the world weirdly big, or are these ungodly creatures strangely small? So many questions. Absolutely no answers. The internet’s reaction was speedy and glorious. Memes flooded in like tidal waves. Genuinely funny ones. And for just one day, Film Twitter was at peace and on the same page. What a glorious day it was. I do not rank Tom Hooper as a director, but he has my total respect as a meme lord. (Ciara Wardlow)

41. Godzilla (Teaser)

Gareth Edward’s 2014 take on the beloved monster is just kind of fine. I had basically forgotten about its existence until I asked Twitter for suggestions for this list, and no less than nine people suggested this one. And for good reason. This teaser follows the basic script of a standard action trailer—military dudes going into a disaster zone, flashes of destruction, crowds fleeing in terror—but superb execution elevates it to the next level. A distinctive, moody atmosphere permeates the trailer from start to finish, as does an unusually restrained, and ultimately very effective sensibility. It’s so convincing it makes me want to see a movie I know I found to be utterly mediocre, just in case I somehow missed something the first time. And that’s a powerful trailer right there. (Ciara Wardlow)

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Ciara Wardlow: Ciara Wardlow is a human being who writes about movies and other things. Sometimes she tries to be funny on Twitter.