We’re still in a pandemic, you say? That sure as hell didn’t stop (some) movies from coming out.
I thought about whether my usual end-year lists were worth doing this time around, considering most of 2020’s film slate got annihilated thanks to our current pandemic. (One-year anniversary coming up soon! 😬)
And then I came to my senses because movies have once again provided for much needed balms and escapism from everything going on. It seems the more anxiety-inducing the news cycle, the more I yearn for the next big release. These trailers came in mighty handy in providing something to look forward to, even if not all of these movies came out in 2020. Those that found ways to adapt via streaming and premium rentals, my anguished soul is eternally grateful. I’m hard at work narrowing down my favorite moments and top ten movies overall. In the meantime, here are the ten trailers of 2020 that had me wrecking the replay button.
Honorable Mention: THE GREEN KNIGHT
Let’s get this out of the way: this is a flat-out jaw-dropping teaser. But it feels like just that – a tease, which is why A24’s trailer for The Green Knight gets the honorable mention. I was hoping for a more generous 2nd trailer, but it never came—most likely because A24 sees a lot of potential in dollar signs. And rightly so; that shot of the giant’s hand reaching out from the foggy hillside is epic, and the final images of star Dev Patel standing off against the mysterious legend himself has me screaming for more. This might’ve been a brief sneak peek, but my, what a glorious peek.
No Time to Die
Poor Daniel Craig. He’s wanted nothing more these last few years than to hang up the Bond holster. Thanks to the pandemic, he’ll spend the better part of 2 years promoting his swan song. No Time to Die’s 2nd trailer boasts all the lavish locales and massive stunts one would expect from the 007 canon. Yet, under the Universal Studios banner (Fast & Furious) this time around, the overall production value looks exceptionally bonkers. Notice the sheer uptick in vehicle ramp stunts. I’m very impressed with what director Cary Joji Fukunaga has on display, a director known for intimate dramas and now being handed the reins of a massive tentpole. Color me cautiously optimistic because we’ve been fooled by Bond trailers before (Quantum of Solace), but even I gotta admit, I like what I’m seeing.
Leave it to producer Jordan Peele to craft a creepified version of 90s rap and R&B hits. Mark my words, he’ll sign off on a sinister rendition of Eminem’s “My Name Is”; I don’t know how, he just will. Candyman was one of my most anticipated horror movies of 2020 right next to Halloween Kills. Sadly, we’ll have to wait and see how director Nia DaCosta has updated this brutal horror icon WITH surviving players from the 1992 film in further roles. The simultaneous sequel and reboot aspect gives DaCosta the proper room to leave her sinister and operatic stamp on the urban legend. Needless to say, DaCosta landing her next directing gig with Captain Marvel 2 has only whet my appetite more.
Promising Young Woman
I have no idea if this movie is selling a straight up revenge tale à la Kill Bill/Lady Vengeance, or serving up a critique of said revenge tales. (Also getting some serious Audition vibes.) Either way, I’m in. Carey Mulligan is perfect fucking casting, completely shattering the Daisy Buchanan a.k.a. “desirable object of the main protagonist” roles she’s so often typecast in. She has some worthy douchebags to mount on her wall: Adam Brody, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and is that New Girl’s Max Greenfield I see? The horror rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” is the fiery cherry on top. Thank goodness Promising Young Woman is available to rent this Friday.
Dune was one of the few trailers I got to see on the big screen courtesy of the one movie I saw in theaters last year. The result was ASTOUNDING. Sleek spaceships, ancestral intergalactic warfare, massive sandworms, and Jason freakin’ Momoa stealing the show! Dune is widely considered an unfilmable novel, so leave it to a storyteller like Denis Villeneuve to prove otherwise. I’ve been in Villeneuve’s corner since 2013’s Prisoners. Both Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 are on my list of favorite movies of all time. I’m relieved to see that Warner Bros. is fully behind his vision—even if I’m not sure whether it’s current release date will stick. When the fear is gone, only the hype will remain.
A24 has mastered the art of an evocative, emotional trailer. (See: trailers for Good Time, or The Florida Project) You can add Minari to the list. I’m usually averse to trailers that shove critic pull-quotes in your face, but I’m a sucker for stories empathetic to the Asian-American experience. I’ve been very impressed with Steven Yeun’s post-Walking Dead career and how he’s been liberated as a leading man ever since. Minari is looking like another quantum leap forward for Yuen and everyone involved. Is this gonna be the next The Farewell? (Another American-immigrant story that absolutely wrecked me.) It’s looking more like Minari is this year’s Parasite, as in another anticipated movie I won’t get to see ‘til after the awards race. I will wait for you, Minari. Impatiently, but I will wait.
Sound of Metal
Sound of Metal already had me with its Place Beyond the Pines aesthetic; Riz Ahmed literally looks like he’s cut from the same cloth as Luke Glanton. (Guess who’s the co-creator.) The trailer already teases the film’s astonishing sound design, of a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing, and how that sensory disadvantage colors his world in both brutal and beautiful ways. Sound, after all, is the other half of what makes cinema such an impactful artform. This trailer absolutely sells how raw and painful life looks when robbed of a vital mode of communication, and self-expression. The trailer, too – just like the actual movie – hits like a brick.
4. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
This movie completely flew below my radar. Never Rarely Sometimes Always follows a 17-year-old seeking to terminate a pregnancy, with her close cousin as an only support and lifeline. I don’t typically cry when watching trailers, but the emotion on display is so palpable that it got the waterworks going – with an assist by Sharon Van Etten’s accompanying song, “Seventeen.” This trailer spoils some of the film’s most heart-wrenching moments, but this doesn’t rob the movie of its soft-spoken power. If anything, it clues you in on when to get the tissues ready.
I could’ve easily settled for either of Tenet’s first two trailers, but it’s the final trailer that does it for me. I was all in since this was announced as Christopher Nolan’s next feature. And I’ve been gob-smacked at how massive this movie kept on getting in each trailer. Travis Scott’s track pairs phenomenally well in teasing the mind-bending rhythms of Tenet’s storytelling ambitions. I couldn’t tell you what this movie was about right up until walking into the theater. (Or walking out, for that matter!) That wide overheard shot of soldiers descending on a battlefield is Nolan’s trademark at this point, of epic scale and practical effects rolled into one breathtaking frame. I was always going to see this but after this trailer, my ass was already in the seat.
Judas and the Black Messiah
If trailers were nominated for awards, then this rousing trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah would sweep the ceremonies. I get chills just thinking about Daniel Kaluuya as the legendary Black Panthers speaker Fred Hampton. Paired with co-star Lakeith Stanfield, this is poised to be a fist-pumping powerhouse that’ll have everybody on their feet. This and Spike Lee’s BlackKklansmen feels like the incendiary double feature to cap off these tumultuous last 4 years. February 12th (and January 20th) can’t get here fast enough. I 👏 AM 👏 A 👏 REVOLUTIONARY 👏
No other trailer had me smashing the replay button than this FanDome sneak peek for The Batman. Just when I thought I was done with the Caped Crusader and “gritty reboots” in general, WB keeps pulling me back in. Now I want raw and unsanitized Gotham capers for as long as I live. Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne looks far moodier (and dare I say emo) than previous iterations already. My man straight up looking like he’s been pissed off every single day of his life. I didn’t expect to see Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman nor Colin Farrell’s coked-out Penguin so soon— plus a tease of Paul Dano’s Riddler via creepy modulated voiceover. These are brief snippets, but my god I want this movie NOW. It seems director Matt Reeves has adopted his next franchise baby and completely made it his own. This stylish and gorgeous glimpse at my favorite dark and moody superhero makes the film’s delay to 2022 all the more excruciating. The Batman will enjoy a protracted marketing campaign, I’m sure. Here’s to a new trailer sometime this year!