There's a certain art to making a great movie trailer. And frankly, hardly anybody seems to have mastered that art.
Indeed, for every halfway-interesting trailer that comes out there are ten more that give away the entire plot, deliver nothing but obvious jokes about farts and crotch punches or are simply a series of incredibly fast jump cuts with weird music playing over them. In short, they are crap.
Which is why we're so happy to celebrate the 10 Best Trailers of 2012. Because when a trailer is great, it's not just memorable and exciting to watch, it's also defying the odds. And in today's Hollywood, that kind of risk-taking is the rarest thing of all.
10. 'Man of Steel'
Zack Snyder faced a significant challenge when putting together his first trailer for "Man of Steel." After all, there have been so many Superman movies in the past that fans already have very specific ideas of how a Superman film should look. Snyder had to both surprise and somehow satisfy fans with his first clip, making his take seem like something new while still being familiar. And he knocked it out of the park and clear into the stratosphere with this elegant and powerful clip. You will believe a man can fish.
With it's heady and offbeat mix of gritty political intrigue and Hollywood in-jokes, "Argo" could have been a very tough sell for director Ben Affleck. As complex as the real life story is, boiling it down to a two-minute clip that both does the film justice and makes any kind of sense ... well, it was no small task. The fact that "Argo" is now an international box office hit and a frontrunner for the Oscars shows you exactly how well he succeeded. Will it win Best Picture? It's too early to tell, but it's definitely in the conversation for Best Trailer.
8. 'Life of Pi'
The story, on the face of it, is simple: A kid gets shipwrecked with a bunch of zoo animals. But what Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has done with the trailer for "Life of Pi" is anything but simple. With its literally breathtaking renditions of nature in motion, "Life of Pi" is a trailer best seen on the biggest screen you can find, preferably in 3-D. But in lieu of that, you can at least lose a little bit of your breath right now by checking out one of the most visually stunning clips in years.
7. 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Stark and severe, the trailer for Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to her Oscar-winning masterpiece "The Hurt Locker" exudes menace and tension from the first frame. The voiceover, the grainy satellite imagery and the black lines of redaction inching relentlessly across the screen create a sense of creeping unease that mounts with each passing moment. And when the payoff comes in the form of a shouted "When was the last time you saw Bin Laden?," it hits like a punch to the stomach. A serious film and a deadly serious trailer.
6. 'Django Unchained'
Quentin Tarantino is pretty much unmatched when it comes to style. And almost nobody uses music as well as Tarantino does. It's no wonder then that his trailers are consistently among the best Hollywood has to offer. And this clip for his upcoming revenge drama "Django Unchained" is certainly no exception, with bold colors, cool dialogue and that unmistakable Tarantino style. The "D" may be silent, but your jaw hitting the floor isn't.
5. 'Iron Man 3'
What do you do to follow up one of the three highest grossing blockbusters in the history of cinema? That's the question facing Marvel Studios after "The Avengers" rolled up more than $1.5 billion worldwide. Frankly, under that kind of pressure, we'd just stay in bed and pull the blankets up over our head for the next year. Marvel went a different direction, though, amping up the drama, tension and action to create this instantly unforgettable trailer for "Iron Man 3." Lightning apparently does strike the same place three times.
4. 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'
Here's the formula to guarantee you will have an awesome movie trailer. Step One: Bring back stars from one of the most popular and successful film franchises in history, "The Lord of the Rings." Step Two: Deliver an adaptation of one of the most beloved books of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Step Three: Include jaw-dropping vistas, incredible special effects and amazing cinematography, not to mention a truly spine-tingling ballad performed by a company of dwarves. Oh, and have Peter Jackson direct all of it. Simple, right? You'll think so once you've taken yet another look at one of the most hotly anticipated films of the decade.
3. 'The Master'
Enigmatic. Obscure. Intriguing. Director Paul Thomas Anderson pretty much threw every bit of conventional wisdom out the window when he put together his first trailer for "The Master," focusing instead on the performance of Joaquin Phoenix and giving film fans something very out of the ordinary for a teaser: Food for thought. There's no hint at all of a plot, yet this strangely intimate and compelling clip somehow shows you exactly what "The Master" is really about. If the goal of a trailer is to get viewers to want to see the film, then few trailers this year succeeded as well as "The Master."
Ridley Scott is no stranger to crafting compelling, epic and memorable trailers; his teaser for the 2000 Best Picture winner "Gladiator" remains one of the best trailers ever. So it's no surprise that his latest film, "Prometheus," also boasts a fantastic trailer. Too fantastic, as it happens; many viewers went away from the theater disappointed that the film wasn't as cool as the preview. Oh, well — that's just one of the dangers you face when make 'em as good as this one.
1. 'The Great Gatsby'
This trailer basically has everything. It's like a blueprint for how to make awesome trailers. Big stars? Check. Terrific acting and memorable lines? Check. Stunning visuals? Check. And amazing music that sets the whole thing off? Check and mate. Baz Luhrmann has been crafting cult classic hits for 20 years now, but with this trailer, he just put himself at the top of the mainstream heap as well. Here it is, the best trailer of 2012.