The 20 Best Trailers of 2014

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5. Mad Max: Fury Road
Some people listen to heavy metal when they go running, others to house music, and others to their own thoughts, or to the ragged insistence of their breathing, or to the ache of their muscles, their joints, their flagging endurance. The trailer for George Miller’s return to the Mad Max franchise is what we should watch when we go running, what we should see scattered like detritus throughout our exercising cerebellums. There is no other trailer released this year that taps so indelibly into the autonomic systems of our physicality. Think what you want about Tom Hardy filling Mel Gibson’s stripper boots, feel how you’re gonna feel about yet another reboot—but at the very least behold what is only a pinhole’s look into the fully manifest breadth of a film that will be everything we live for when we die, and seek unwieldy rebirth, inside an action film. —Dom Sinacola


4. Godzilla
Have you ever held your breath during a trailer, dug your fingernails into the soft, squishy middle of your opposite hand, gnawed at your cuticles until they bled? In one minute, the first trailer for Godzilla puts to rest all questions about the need for yet another remake while obliterating all sense of any other monster movie ever having existed. The visceral terror of the trailer’s first moments—the POV scope of its action paired with the near motionless grace of its long shots—in tandem with its supernatural accompaniment, a sort of choral unison of voices poised before the gnarly mouth of Hell, may only be a choice clip from the film itself, but the effect is nearly ineffable. As a tease for something to come, just…my God, the size of this moment. —Dom Sinacola


3. The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Joss Whedon  and company could pretty much skip the foreplay with Avengers: Age of Ultron if they wanted. With the first film a still recent-ish multi-billion-dollar event and the good will toward the Marvel Cinematic Universe at yet another all-time high thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney/Marvel could pretty much tell us nothing, show us nothing and just mention on some random Monday, “Oh yeah, the picture is now in theaters,” and be guaranteed a few more billion for their efforts. But this is Disney, and they know how to market. Witness this trailer—filled with plenty to chew on yet with nothing really that spoiler-y. That’s not to say they are being coy—you get a chilling Spader-tron voiceover throughout, plenty of fan service (Hulkbuster armor!), and best of all, it’s all served with a chilling remake of a classic Disney song, “There Are No Strings on Me.” Mmm … tasty. —Michael Burgin


2. Under the Skin
Not one image is anything but sumptuous, tactile, an extravagant enigma for your eyes, passing beyond signifiers of plot or previews of what Under the Skin could actually be about into the realm of lucid fever dreaming. While Scarlett Johansson’s face is, let’s face it, the stuff of fantasy, here she is the harbinger of discordant sound and unnerving demise. The trailer betrays nothing, but provides every single reason why Under the Skin is an absolutely magnificent masterpiece of pure, unbridled, visceral cinema: it will leave you gasping; it will part ways with your sanity and gnaw at something closer to your brainstem; it will kidnap you and leave no semblance of a put-together human in its wake. —Dom Sinacola


1. Citizenfour
In barely a minute and a half, all it allows is a simmering and simple sense of paranoia: everything you do, everything you are, is not your own. This we’re told over simple scenes of the quotidian; of life as it hustles forward, boring and eventless; of timelapses that aren’t timelapses halfway between the oversaturated opening credits of House of Cards and some bullshit stock footage from a Visa commercial. And then we meet an unassuming Everyperson in glasses, towheaded—he looks like my friend Phil—he bobs his head like your pizza deliveryman; he sounds like white noise on a packed traincar—and all he does is tell us his name. It’s a name with which we’re familiar, or should be familiar, but it doesn’t really matter, the familiarity doesn’t—because he makes a correction, and in the correction clarifies his full name, adding a middle, which adds nothing. In barely a minute and a half, privacy is annihilated, but there’s such a mundanity to it—just a regular-looking dude and his whitebread name—that the dread is overwhelming. This is it, and there’s nothing else. In 2014, in a world where nothing is private, we are all implicated. —Dom Sinacola


Honorable Mentions
The One I Love, which never spoils the film’s premise while still providing a sticky intro into why it’s such a lovable indie; Guardians of the Galaxy, for using one song popularized by Ally McBeal and a terribly CGI-ized dancing baby in order to be the first Marvel movie tethered to our familiar reality; Tomorrowland, because Damon Lindelof is best digested when he isn’t required to provide an ending to any of his ludicrous ideas; Jupiter Ascending for attempting to explain its over-complicated Wachowskian plot within three over-stimulated minutes; and The Babadook for not really doing anything more than requiring you wear an adult diaper to watch a minute-long preview.

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