I’m back from a blogging hiatus and wrapping up all things 2022.
Kicking things off, my favorite movie trailers of last year. I had this list set in December but then Lucasfilm and Paramount flexed some late great peeks at what’s to come in 2023 that it shuffled this ranking some. I can’t help it, I’m excited by the things I’m excited about. This remains my only metric for what I consider a great trailer – a preview that gets you hyped to see the final product. That’s it. Sometimes these trailers do it magnificently in a short film exercise, other times it’s a restrained tease or an epic montage that makes you want the movie NOW. There were 13 trailers in 2022 that did it for me.
Unfortunately no Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Across the Spider-Verse, or Oppenheimer mentions here because, really, I don’t need trailers for those; I’m already there. Also just wanted to shout out these Ambulance and The Northman trailers. They were on here until I noticed the date and turns out those were 2021 trailers, so my 2021 trailers list has been devastated.
Alas, let’s tie a bow on the past year so we can start looking ahead at this year’s slate. Here are my favorite trailers of 2022:
13. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4
John Wick is among the few true action franchises left in movies. And by god, Baba Yaga will shoot his way out from oblivion.
My one nitpick is that this series has gotten too big for its own good. Parabellum ripped as a crowd-pleaser, but director Chad Stahelski gets lost in the stunts sometimes and forgets that these assassins are supposed to be efficient, not gluttonous. By the third time Halle Berry set her dogs on henchmen, my mind wandered and couldn’t figure out why we were in Casablanca other than for the film history vibes. Some of the globe-trotting in Chapter 4’s trailer worries me. Not so much the Paris locale, just why are we going John Wick of Arabia here??? Qualms aside, I’ve been all in on this world since the first one reintroduced – and remythologized – Keanu Reeves. I’m a fan of this being essentially Reeves’ Jackass in which he experiences pain in a myriad of ways for our enjoyment. And of course, we got Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Sanada, AND Scott Adkins—who’s not yet been glimpsed but I’m waiting. Yeah, I’m thinking we’re back, baby.
Adam Driver in a schlocky sci-fi B-movie, that’s the pitch and I’m sold. He carried the Star Wars sequel trilogy on his broad shoulders and had an incredible run of back-to-back Ridley Scott films. Off the bat, I’m getting Oblivion and Pitch Black vibes from 65. This is either a black hole time travel movie where Driver is thrown into prehistoric Earth, or my guy traveled in the wrong (right?) sector of the galaxy that happens to have dinosaurs at the top of the food chain. The thing I love most about this premise? It implies that Driver hunted the dinosaurs into extinction. Is this the Dino Crisis/Turok movie we deserve? We shall see.
11. KNOCK AT THE CABIN
I’ve come around on M. Night Shyamalan. OLD is a lot of fun, and I stick up for 90 minutes of Glass. You have to know what you’re in for, and it’s clear since The Visit and Split that Shyamalan has firmly left behind the magic trick (and shadow) of The Sixth Sense. Now he’s having a blast making audacious sci-fi horror thrillers. He’s reinvented himself an auteur this way, having full control over the look, vibe, and any perceived missteps of each movie. Say what you will about the twists that don’t work for you, they are HIS—things only he’d dream up.
While Knock at the Cabin’s second trailer gave a greater sense of scope, I prefer the self-contained weirdness in the first look we got. (Less Glass, more Split.) Dave Bautista continues an impressive streak of genre roles, and, after OLD, I want me some more Nikki Amuka-Bird. Where once Shyamalan’s name was a punchline, it’s now of a singular writer-director brand up there with Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson, and Jordan Peele. Shyamalan was here first.
I so far admire Ti West’s A24 franchise experiment more than I like it. (West’s House of the Devil remains superior imo.) X is his slasher ode to Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The ending came with a surprise preview for Pearl – a whole prequel based on the character featured in X. Where X was West scratching a HUGE Tobe Hooper itch, Pearl frolics across the technicolor lens of Wizard of Oz. This time Dorothy IS the tornado wreaking havoc on a farm. The opening scream buried beneath chicken crows is bloodcurdling, and the use of Helen Kane’s “I Wanna Be Loved By You” intercut with Pearl’s murderous carnage is genuinely unnerving. This preview establishes a pitch perfect frequency for the titular character in that it feels like Pearl cut and scored the trailer herself.
9. TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS
I try to keep these lists light on the following year’s previews, but I can’t help myself when I’m hyped. I’m a child of Beast Wars. It was my morning programming before school—and often why my parents ran late to work. Didn’t need breakfast so long as I had my daily Optimus Primal and Cheetor. Needless to say, this trailer did it for me. (Why is this leading with a Biggie song? Fuck it, who cares.) I’m hopeful, and I say this as someone who was once critical of the sequels but has come to appreciate them. Say what you will, the CGI in the Transformers movies have aged better all these years later, whereas some MCU movies don’t hold up past the summer (and are still fine-tuned through its Disney+ debut and Blu-ray release). Nonetheless, Rise of the Beasts is leading with the tone set by Bumblebee and that’s good news for everyone.
8. INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY
We’ve been here before. Nostalgia has one hell of a gravitational pull, especially when it’s Harrison Ford returning to an iconic role. This is arguably his most iconic so OF COURSE I’m hyped, all things considered. I don’t think Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an atrocity so much as a good case for Steven Spielberg to hand off the reins. There, I said it. (Yes, Spielberg made the OG Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park. He also made Temple of Doom and The Lost World.) James Mangold is in prime dad movie shape following Logan and Ford v. Ferrari. He will do right by Indy.
I like what I’m seeing – the Phoebe Waller-Bridge of it all – and what I’m hearing. The sheer crescendo of John Williams’ score got the nostalgic waterworks going. It’s hard to get a better sendoff than literally riding off into the sunset like in Last Crusade. Dial of Destiny doesn’t need to be an apology or epilogue. Another fun adventure with everybody’s favorite grump king is all we need.
7. CREED III
Where were you when these Jonathan Majors photos dropped? While I wasn’t hot on Creed II, I am game for a Creed series going the distance like parent Rocky franchise. Stepping into the director’s chair this time is star Michael B. Jordan, and boy, he ain’t messing around. He’s gunning for a good old-fashioned slugfest, with samples of training montages like you’d see in Dragon Ball Z. (More movies should have characters punching trees imo.) Jordan has been in the game since The Wire; he’s got this directing thing in the bag. Less confident, though, on whether Adonis Creed will survive this grudge match. I’m in his corner, but Majors’ Damian Anderson lookin like he’ll knock Creed’s head clean off 😱
I’ve only seen one Hellraiser movie in my lifetime. Yet, this remake became one of the most anticipated movies of the year for me based on this trailer alone. I was impressed with the soundscape early on, of Gothic bells tolling (and seething) for innocent souls. But I was lulled by the geometry on display—the infamous puzzle boxes foreshadowing pathways to a hellish dimension where pain is currency. And last but not least, Jamie Clayton’s Pinhead gets a thunderous, movie monster intro. The voice was perfect, the mood was sinister, and the ending scream was the blood red punctuation on top.
Jordan Peele can make anything and I will watch. Which is to say I’m predisposed to the guy like I am with Chris Nolan. Peele going extraterrestrial piqued my interest, but I couldn’t have imagined how cowboy he’d go with the concept. I like bite-sized trailers that don’t spoil anything, but I’m a sucker for cinematics. The final trailer gave us some gorgeous peeks at DP Hoyte van Hoytema’s panoramas (himself a Nolan collaborator), a taste of Michael Abels’ galloping score; throw in Michael Wincott’s gravelly voice (The Crow and Metro fans know his deep baritone by heart), and Nope registered as a summer event in my brain. It’d have been so easy to follow up Us’ trailer with another sinister remix of a hit single. I’m glad Peele went with the movies on this one.
4. AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
This teaser played before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and seeing it on the big screen was, dare I say, spiritual? You lose a sense of grandeur viewing anything on a phone, so seeing this preview in theaters made me realize how hyped I was for Avatar 2 after all. (Where once I was critical of James Cameron getting a billion-dollar budget for a franchise nobody asked for at the time, now I want Avatars 6 and 7 before Earth truly becomes uninhabitable.) The hand-wringing over Avatar’s “cultural impact” had not yet begun so this trailer felt pure and serene. Jaw-dropping visuals that made the Na’vi seem realer than ever before, and a profoundly muted score that knew what we knew deep down: we were ready to return to Pandora.
3. BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
Phase Four left me so jaded on the MCU that I forgot Black Panther 2 was coming out in 2022. In turn, I had forgotten how good Ryan Coogler is at his job. As Fugees’ “No Woman, No Cry” bled into Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” I was brought back instantly. Wakanda Forever’s initial trailer does right by Chadwick Boseman’s memory while teasing the emerging ensemble that will carry the torch forward. It’s hard making a sequel to one of the best superhero movies ever made, even harder to honor the passing of a titan. If there was any doubt, this trailer gave all the confidence that this sprawling comic book enterprise can find its way back again.
She served, she slayed, she TikTok danced her way into our hearts. This trailer came out of nowhere and took over social media by storm. M3GAN truly became sentient in that regard. (Allison Williams unleashing a Yassified Terminator because she can’t take care of her plants? Incredible.) Akela Cooper and James Wan gave me my favorite movie of last year so they can do no wrong in my mind. The sheer audacity of this premise gave me hope that such a void would finally be filled come January. Though 2022 had plenty of Malignant successors, Akela Cooper came through with a true heir to the throne. M3GAN 👏 IS 👏 THE MOMENT 👏
1. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONE
That’s right, the best trailer I saw all year played before freakin’ Top Gun: Maverick. Let’s just get this outta the way: this is a terribly edited preview. Not all of the cuts are seamless to the brash music cues, and these images one after the other don’t make visual sense. Horseback here, submarine explosion there, cars crashing everywhere, etc. It’s because this isn’t a trailer, it’s a showreel – something a producer and director will put together to prove to the studio that their investment is worthwhile (and perhaps angling for more budget dollars).
Maybe Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie were in hot water globe-trotting and charging Paramount Pictures for all their worth in making this massive two-parter. Or Paramount leaked this rough preview to soften the PR blow of this Hollywood Reporter article. Whatever the case, they got me. This Dead Reckoning preview fucking PULVERIZED my ear holes and eye sockets. It’s an epic poem in trailer form. I have no idea what the plot is and I do not care. Cruise and McQuarrie have fine-tuned the formula for modern action filmmaking and it’s Tom Cruise x Acceleration = CINEMA. If this is his final bow for the franchise, then they’re going out on a high-speed chariot of glory.