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The Battle for the Best Movie Trailer Since 1990: The Final Four

Scorsese versus Fincher, Nolan versus ‘Star Wars’—let’s do this

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Since the advent of YouTube, trailers have functioned as a high-performing emotion-elicitation program. It’s not just what the movie is about or who appears in it. It’s how this movie will make you feel. And the best of them can trigger that emotion, over and over again. And that’s why the trailers are so damn good, if a little scary. (It’s a little disturbing how easily and repeatedly trailers can manipulate your emotions, isn’t it?) And that’s why we made this bracket to decide the best trailer since 1990. With three rounds of the Best Movie Trailer bracket in the books, we’re down to the Final Four. Let’s review last round’s biggest surprise and preview the remaining matchups on our way to crowning the best modern movie trailer.

The Field

The Wildest Thing That Happened Last Round

Once again, The Wolf of Wall Street trailer took out a higher seed—operating ruthlessly as this bracket’s version of Brad Stevens–era Butler. The latest victim to fall to the 5-seed was the trailer for the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, the region’s 3-seed. Apparently, slow-brooding Western misery is no match for Leo and Yeezus.

We’ve waxed poetic about Wolf of Wall Street for most of this tournament—and we’ll have at least one more round to do it again—so let’s give a quick shout-out to one of the best films of the 21st century, with a trailer that matches its craftsmanship. The No Country for Old Men trailer offers a lot of juicy morsels, particularly from Javier Bardem’s terrifying bounty hunter Anton Chigurh. “How dangerous is he?” Stephen Root’s character asks Woody Harrelson’s character. “Compared to what …” he replies, as we see Chigurh take out an unsuspecting civilian with a cattle gun, “... the bubonic plague?” Yeah, that was a great trailer, and I would’ve been OK with it winning this whole thing. But alas. On to the Final Four.

Final Four

(1) The Social Network vs. (5) The Wolf of Wall Street

The opening montage of Facebook that takes up the first minute of The Social Network trailer wasn’t just an ambitious gambit—holding off on showing actual film footage for almost a full minute and risking losing viewers’ attention—it’s now a fascinating time capsule into the earlier days of the platform. It’s also a shockingly prescient harbinger for what Facebook would reveal itself to be, a baldly capitalistic endeavor with extremely questionable ethics. How we see Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg now matches this movie’s cynical depiction. Also, it’s a huge compliment that Facebook’s “Sorry we sold your private information” commercial looks just like this trailer.

We’ll see if David Fincher’s titanic 1-seed—the Duke of our bracket if there ever was one—can be the trailer to take out Martin Scorsese’s giant-killer and earn a spot in the final.


Which Trailer Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    (1) The Social Network
    (7086 votes)
  • 46%
    (5) The Wolf of Wall Street
    (6258 votes)
13344 votes total Vote Now

(1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens vs. (1) Inception

The Force Awakens trailer bested the trailer for the biggest blockbuster of the year, Black Panther, and must make it past another behemoth to advance to the final. Inception will be no slouch. Though Star Wars might have one of pop culture’s biggest and most ardent fan bases—even if they can’t all agree on most things these days—you can never underestimate the Christopher Nolan fanboys.

We’re in the midst of celebrating the 10-year anniversary of The Dark Knight, arguably Nolan’s buzziest film—you can’t go on the internet this week without stumbling upon at least three anniversary-pegged Dark Knight takes. In other words, Nolan is buzzing at the moment. Perhaps Inception—a beloved movie with a darn good trailer in its own right—can ride that wave of nostalgia. A spinning top that’s still debated to this day takes on the Force; composer-turned-rock-star Hans Zimmer takes on John Williams; Leo takes on washed Harrison Ford. This oughta be close.


Which Trailer Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    (1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
    (7001 votes)
  • 49%
    (1) Inception
    (6890 votes)
13891 votes total Vote Now

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