TV-VCR’s Top Ten Trailers of 2017

Atomic Blonde – Restricted Trailer

Coming from John Wick co-director David Leitch, Atomic Blonde immediately made clear it was Wick‘s successor in its first R-rated trailer. Its 30-second, one-take display of Charlize Theron beating the hell out of some guys could have sold it alone, but the trailer went on for almost two more minutes of spies, sex, drink, and violence already beyond anything seen in a Bond movie. Sure, it was all a bit over the top—particularly the on-the-nose use of “Killer Queen”—but it sure was an entertainingly effective way of getting our attention.

Did the film live up to it? Largely, but it’s still no Wick.

Baby Driver – Official International Trailer

A film based on cutting along to catchy songs, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver was tailor-made for being edited down to a trailer. So it’s no wonder but still a treat that every preview for the film was so enticing. We originally called its U.S. trailer the “Bud Light variant—the far less flavorful domestic counterpart,” and that held true through the rest of the film’s marketing cycle; the international trailer remains the best of the best.

Did the film live up to it? To the musical action, sure, but not so far beyond.

Logan Lucky – Official Trailer

Director Steven Soderbergh eschewed the traditional distribution system with Logan Lucky, letting him release an Ocean’s Eleven variant that was a bit less commercial than the Hollywood gloss he’d put out before. Likewise, he got to send it out there with marketing just as cheerfully retro as the Ocean’s series always demanded with this Logan Lucky trailer. The only thing more enjoyable than its vintage vibe was the hillbilly doofus performance of Daniel Craig.

Did the film live up to it? For the most part, yeah.

Thoroughbreds – Official Teaser Trailer

There’s already been a full trailer released since we saw the first footage of Thoroughbreds, but more isn’t always better, and the proof’s in the film’s initial teaser. Focused at first on the late Anton Yelchin in what will be his final role, the preview is stylish but not pretentious, and ever confident despite being the first feature from its writer-director. The rich, white girls gone bad genre isn’t exactly a fresh one, but with this trailer, Thoroughbreds immediately made itself a debut to look forward to.

Did the film live up to it? Yup.

Suburbicon – Official Trailer

George Clooney’s Suburbicon boasts a shared writing credit from the Coen Brothers, and its trailer went out of its way to make that joyously clear. It showed off a morbid crime in a seemingly idyllic place; a disenfranchised man taking foolishly dangerous measures to get ahead; comic buffoonery from an A-list handsome; and even the repetitive squeak of a hand exerciser building tension like the rhythmic head-thumps of the Serious Man trailer. The trailer’s closing image, star Matt Damon pedaling away on a child’s bike, was a funnier button that most outright comedy trailers nailed this year. Shame the scene played better here than in the finished movie.

Did the film live up to it? Nope.

Thor: Ragnarok – Teaser Trailer

Hulk bursting through a door, looking like he’s never been seen before, is both a crowd-pleasing reveal and an obvious metaphor for the first Thor: Ragnarok teaser. The preview took the familiar Marvel thing and made it feel new and exciting again. Set to beats of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and comedy, it hinted at a Guardians of the Galaxy approach by way of Thor’s mythos, but it just as much delivered bold visuals (the visual of Jeff Goldblum among them) like nothing this comic book universe had approached before. Abruptly, even those who didn’t care about Thor had a hard time not being intrigued by his new buddy comedy.

Did the film live up to it? It is indeed the most enjoyable Thor.

Isle of Dogs – Official Trailer

Wes Anderson’s voice is consistent enough that given the setup, “a Wes Anderson stop-motion movie about dogs helping a Japanese boy stranded on an island,” it’s not that hard to imagine what that would be. Wonderfully, the trailer for Isle of Dogs didn’t make us imagine; there it was, beautifully realized in front of us and so well-formed that it could almost be an in-film prologue. As Anderson has been delivering since he jumped onto the scene with Bottle Rocket, the soundtrack mixed spirited drum beats with largely overlooked ’60s cuts—here, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band’s “I Won’t Hurt You.” Please don’t hurt us, Wes; this looks great.

Did the film live up to it? It’s not Anderson’s best, but it’s damn good.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Official Red-Band Trailer

Bookended by writer-director Martin McDonagh’s typically foul-mouthed dialogue, the Three Billboards trailer crescendoed magically with The Left Banke’s 1966 classic “Walk Away Renée,” the beats landing perfectly with a literal 3-2-1 countdown to a climactic chorus. And how can anyone not love a trailer that closes on Frances McDormand calling some “bitch” a “fuckin’ retard”?

Did the film live up to it? Yeah, pretty much.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Official Trailer

Rumbling drums and a girl’s solitary, off-key cover of Ellie Goulding’s “Burn” set the tone for one of the tensest previews of the year. Without a single jump scare, ghost nun, or anything else of that ilk, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer trailer still managed to loom more haunting than anything the horror genre has put out in 2017. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman now look comparatively benign in the once-uneasy Beguiled trailer.

Did the film live up to it? Not quite, but not bad.

Okja – Official Trailer

Bong Joon-ho’s Okja boasted one of the year’s most awe-inspiring musical sequences—a gripping, ambitious chase scene set to John Denver’s “Annie’s Song.” Its trailer managed a similar midway musical feat: from the moment the Mamas and the Papas’ “Dedicated to the One I Love” kicks in, it’s a too-brief but unexpectedly emotional ride to its close. If it doesn’t give you chills, you’re a monster less human than a giant pig thing.

Did the film live up to it? Oh my, yes.

Honorable mentions: Kingsman: The Golden Circle, It Comes at Night, Blade Runner 2049.

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