Back in 1913, the first ever movie trailer debuted for the musical The Pleasure Seekers. Since then, trailers have become something of a phenomenon in the industry, with pre-release trailers, teaser trailers and full length trailers too. In fact, some movies release so many trailers they essentially tell the whole story before you’ve even reached the theatre! And that’s before mentioning footage from trailers misleading or distorting audiences.
Whether you love them or hate them, movie trailers are undoubtedly an artform and through the years there have been some that have become iconic in their own right. Trailers can make bad films look good, hype an upcoming picture and even wow audiences.
We’ve spent weeks poring through the archives to find the very best. So without further ado, here are our top 30 movie trailers of all time.
Oh and they’re in no particular order either. Trying to rank these proved to be an impossible task!
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
There have been a fair few trailers that have adopted Immigrant Song by Led Zepellin, with Thor being the most noteworthy entry. However, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is far more imaginative in its use of this track. With no dialogue, sharp cuts and an intriguing glimpse at the film’s narrative, this is one beautifully composed trailer.
Avengers: Infinity War
Out of all the Marvel projects, Infinity War remains the MCU’s magnum opus. This 2.5 hour epic is only part 1 of this long-awaited story but shows just enough to tantalize the taste buds and leave fans salivating for more.
Although there are some shots here that didn’t make the final cut, seeing the Guardians of the galaxy, Cap coming out the shadows and the iconic Alan Silvestri score come together, it’s hard not to get pure goosebumps.
It was a close toss-up between this and Civil War, but Infinity War’s scope and hype just about edge it!
Judas and the Black Messiah
Speaking of goosebumps, 2021 saw this absolute gem of a trailer drop to much acclaim. As one of the YouTube comments eloquently writes: “Forget the film winning an Oscar, can we give an Oscar to the person who made the trailer?!”
This 2 minute tease manages to give just enough away about the plot while simultaneously building up to a bombastic final 30 seconds or so with lots of action. Not only that, but Fred Hampton’s words overlapping, screaming “You can murder a freedom fighter but you can’t murder freedom,” perfectly captures what this film is all about.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Teaser Trailer 2)
It’s hard to remember a time when Star Wars fans were united in their excitement for a new movie in the franchise. After the lukewarm-at-best prequel trilogy, fans eagerly awaited a brand new chapter for Star Wars. When you talk about dropping the ball, this sequel trilogy felt like a wrestle for control between two Directors and their alternate visions. A match that the fans ultimately lost.
However, the second teaser trailer for The Force Awakens was a massive phenomena when it released and although the official trailer gained more acclaim, it essentially used this teaser as a successful springboard to success. Oh and as others have already mentioned, Luke Skywalker gets more lines in the trailer than he does in the whole film. Go figure!
With a trailer, sometimes all you need is a quick, concise oddity that’ll raise an eyebrow and leave audiences desperate for more. That’s exactly what The Handmaiden manages to do here. It’s quite an achievement to say so little and so much at the same time.
You can tell this is going to be an arthouse picture with stunning cinematography, but the story? No idea. Guess you’ll just have to watch the film to find out!
Arguably the greatest trailer of all time, Alien is another movie that manages to say very little while raising hype and excitement to epic levels. Not only does the trailer sell the eeriness that the first Alien bathes in, it does so with simple quick cuts and an iconic wailing score. A score I may add, that Prometheus takes and expands upon, recognizing what an incredible trailer this is. And the tagline? “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Genius.
Cloverfield (Teaser before Transformers)
Cloverfield elevated the found footage craze beyond simple horrors into the realm of action blockbusters. It’s hard to see now but back then, the teaser for Cloverfield stunned audiences. I personally remember sitting in a theatre with numerous people chatting away through the trailers. They weren’t chatting through this one.
It’s a profound experience to see a theatre of disinterested people immediately gripped by a teaser but that’s exactly what this manages to achieve. The fact people came out of Transformers talking about Cloverfield instead speaks volumes.
Goodnight Mommy isn’t the best horror but its trailer is certainly up there, wrestling with the giants of the genre. This psychologically charged trailer perhaps shows a little too much but it’s absolutely gripping from start to finish.
The trailer manages to walk that fine line between mystery and horror, leaving you desperate to find out more when the trailer ends. Not to mention the fact that the eerie orchestral rendition at the end is utterly chilling.
The Social Network
Regardless of how you feel about Zuckerberg and Facebook, The Social Network is an extraordinarily good movie. And the trailer certainly isn’t half bad either, is it?
With an excellent use of sound – Radiohead’s lyrics speak volumes about social media – and some really clever edits, the film manages to wrap all of that up neatly with one heck of a tagline – ‘You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.’ Just like the film, this trailer is an absolute work of art.
The film that should have won a Best Picture Oscar (and I’ll die on that hill), Logan is an incredible movie and the trailer really does do the flick justice.
Logan is the perfect ending to Wolverine in many ways, and using Johnny Cash’s cover of ‘Hurt’ is such a clever and deliberate choice too. Wolverine has been through so much up until this point in the X-Men timeline, and Cash’s lyrics work as a poignant reflection of the hardships our protagonist has endured.
This beautiful trailer is a goosebump-inducing teaser for what is one of Marvel’s best pictures to date.
Cloud Atlas Extended Trailer 1
“A 5 minute trailer?! Surely that’ll give away the whole film? How could you include this in a list of best trailers, are you mad?” I hear you scream.
Cloud Atlas is a really solid movie, one that was perhaps ahead of its time when it released back in 2012. Trying to descramble all that, not show too much about the plot while revealing enough to get an idea for the themes and ideas this plays with; you start to understand just what an achievement this trailer is.
Oh and the use of ‘Outro’ by M83? *Chefs kiss*
The Shining (Teaser Trailer)
Much like Alien, The Shining’s teaser trailer is another minimalist gem. The film gives you just enough to entice you in – especially those who have read King’s book (although fans of that would certainly be taken aback by the creative differences!)
After a long scroll of text, just hearing that cacophony of off-key chimes and the blood rushing through the hallway is enough to immediately whet the appetite for more.
Whiplash is a stunning movie. It’s a tour de force of acting, with J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller elevating this film above mediocrity. The tension is absolutely suffocating at times, leading up to one of the best endings to a movie in a long, long time.
The pursuit of greatness and what that entails is echoed chillingly in this trailer, leading up to a fitting drum crescendo at the end, quickening the pace along with the edits. Thankfully the trailer does this movie justice.
Suicide Squad (2016)
When you mention trailers that far exceed their movie counterpart, you simply cannot omit Suicide Squad. The 2016 version anyway. The film is… perfunctory at best. But the trailer? Next level.
Not only does it manage to introduce all of our “heroes” but it also does so with the right balance of comedy and action.
Say what you will about Leto’s Joker but he shows up just enough to tease his inclusion while the use of Queen alongside the well-timed cuts between the action and expository text makes for one heck of a watch.
In fact, Warner Bros were so impressed with this trailer, they actually brought the editor along to edit the whole movie.
Only God Forgives
Keeping up the trend of trailers being better than their movie counterparts, Only God Forgives delivers a show-stopping glimpse to what’s otherwise a so/so movie at best. The style certainly comes across in this 90 second teaser but watching the actual film is a very different experience. Perhaps only God will forgive the average finished product.
Man of Steel Trailer 3
There were a lot of trailers released for Man Of Steel when it first hit theatres and out the three main trailers, number 3 is arguably the best. The song choice is so fitting, while the visuals work in tandem with that to sell Superman’s origin story.
Clocking in at a little over 3 minutes, Man Of Steel is the perfect teaser for Supe’s film. It also shows Hans Zimmer do perfect justice to the Superman theme too.
Inception is a stunningly cerebral sci-fi showstopper. From the brilliant mind of Christopher Nolan, the trailer manages to awe and inspire with its mix of iconic visuals and thought provoking dialogue. “Dreams feel real while we’re in them it’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.” being one such example.
The “angry foghorn” effect has become synonymous with so many movies over the years that it diluted the impact it had with Inception at the time. But when it comes to teasing a film’s epic potential while simultaneously explaining enough to get you invested in the story, Inception’s trailer is definitely up there.
The Lion King (Teaser Trailer)
Out of all the trailers on this list, this is likely to be the one taken down and unavailable over time. If you’re reading this in the future and the video above is not available, I can only apologize!
Unlike the other trailers on this list, The Lion King’s teaser essentially showcases the first 4 minutes of the movie – the beautiful rendition of Circle Of Life. And you know what? It works.
Not only does it introduce all the main characters, it also establishes the film’s main theme around the family, life and tradition. The song is goosebump-inducing too and testament to the quality of The Lion King that the film still stands up to this day.
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Whoever thought the idea of combining the Mission Impossible theme with Friction by Imagine Dragons is an absolute genius. Fallout itself is one of the best MI movies, and the trailer definitely does the movie justice.
The editing is sharp, perfectly in-sync with the beat and manages to tease all the big action set-pieces with just enough jaw-dropping, wide sweeping camera movements.
Sometimes simplicity is the key to a good trailer, and that’s exactly what American Sniper brings to the table. Much like The Lion King, Sniper basically grabs a scene from the movie and teases that as the trailer. Unlike Disney’s majestic animated classic, American Sniper cleverly layers the scene with flashbacks and moments from around the film’s run-time to help flesh out the main conflict.
Say what you will about the movie itself (personally I thought it was really good), the trailer undoubtedly sells this and manages to raise excitement and tension to dizzying heights by the end of the trailer.
Battle: Los Angeles
Out of all the films on this list, Battle: Los Angeles is arguably the worst. With an abundance of shaky cam and extreme close-ups, LA doesn’t live up to its trailer’s premise of an insane global conflict to rival something like Independence Day.
However, watching this trailer will almost certainly give you the impression that it will. Action-packed, eerie and promising an absolute blockbuster – not to mention that choice of music – the editor for this trailer deserves a lot of praise.
Let’s stick with epic trailers for action movies for a second and pay homage to Terminator Salvation. This is certainly no T2 but Salvation is definitely a step up from T3, Genesys and Dark Fate. The trailer is suitably epic too, promising an absolute showstopper of an action flick while bringing in new elements to the increasingly obsfucated Terminator timeline.
It’s just too bad that the most recent Terminator film completely destroys the credibility of this one. However, the trailer is so epic and promises such an absolute badass movie, that the finished product was never going to match this.
Little Children ‘s trailer is another example of how to take a very simple concept, and build up layers of sound to tease the film’s main premise.
Starting with the sound of a train, building up to the “chuga chuga” (the technical term of course) noise and ending with the toy trains crashing together (signifying the climax of the film), Little Children says very little while leaving one desperate to find out more about this picture.
Much like the “angry foghorn” era after Inception, with so many trailers using that bass thump, the current trend from trailers seems to be taking pop songs and adding a minor key to distort the feel. Us is one of the better examples, taking the upbeat “I got Five On It” and distorting that, slowly but surely, across the run-time.
While the film itself is pretty polarizing (we weren’t massive fans of it here at TheReviewGeek), the trailer is up there with one of the better horror efforts. The song choice is perfect and as a bonus, check out 1.16 in, when the baseball bat is in-sync with slapping our protagonist’s hand.
Ah Citizen Kane. It’s actually mental to think Orson Welles was 25 when he made this film. A film that’s regarded by many as one of the best of all time. And the trailer is both self-aware and delightfully odd.
There are some really clever camera tricks in here, and the narration adds to the unusualness of this trailer, which grips you from start to finish Is this the best trailer of all time? We’ll leave it up to you to decide!
Okay so maybe it’s a bit of a cheat to include Alien and Prometheus in the same list but after the third and fourth Alien movies, anticipation for a prequel movie, exploring the inception of the xenomorphs and the world before Ripley’s exploits aboard the Nostromo certainly whet the appetite.
It’s actually an ingenious move to go back to the beginning, taking that same familiar wailing sound in the original trailer and expand on that. The actual movie is, at best, perfunctory. But the trailer? Hats off to the editors, because this makes one desperate to watch more.
The film that caused an entire generation to wrongly vilify sharks (#justiceforsharks). Yep, it’s Jaws. This incredible movie still holds up to this day, and is probably one of the better “movie guy” trailers, featuring just the right balance of narration and teasing glimpses of the killer shark out at sea.
The trailer not only introduces the main characters, it also adds the iconic score that’s become synonymous with this one, along with the main characters. All of that, topped off with a healthy dose of tension.
Say what you will about Zack Synder and his filming techniques, Watchmen’s trailer is nothing short of epic. It captures the essence of the comic and it does so with the right balance of dark drama and bombastic action. Given this film came out back in 2009, it’s actually telling that it’s still one of the better comic book flicks.
The narration from Rorschach is spot on while the iconic scene with the blood spatter on the badge works so well to sell the tone and mood of this grim and moody picture.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Ah yes, X-Men: Days of Future Past. When the trailer dropped back in 2014, it brought with it a whole wave of hype for what is arguably the best X-Men movie next to Logan.
Bringing together the new and old casts, Days Of Future Past manages to match the film’s grandiose promise for an epic story into one epic visual blockbuster.
The way this trailer builds up to both versions of Professor X face to face, with Patrick Stewart pleading with his younger self, “Please… we need you to hope again.” sends shivers down the spine.
Spectre (Teaser Trailer)
Given the number of action films on this list, it just wouldn’t be right without including Mr 007 himself, James Bond. Say what you will about Spectre but the deliciously dark teaser released back in 2015 set the tone and mood perfectly, building up a massive wave of hype and expectation
While the official trailer that follows is pretty good too, a part of me wishes they’d just stuck with this teaser, which builds up enough hype on its own
Thanks for reading!
So there we have it! Our list of the best movie trailers of all time. There were casualties along the way and trailers that just missed the final cut – including Godzilla’s 2014 Comic Con tease and Inherent Vice – but there’s something for everyone in this collection.
Thanks for reading and if you’ve made it this far, drop us a comment below and let us know what your favourite movie trailer of all time is!
3 thoughts on “30 Best Movie Trailers Of All Time”
Good list thanks. However you missed off two amazing ones – 1). The Phantom Menace teaser 1. Did any other trailerdonso much for a movie? 16 yeas of waiting was worth thtrailer alone. Wow.
2) Star Trek (Abrams)final theatrical trailer. With the incredible music and the amazing crescendo!
Phantom Menace gets alot of hate so the trailer is forgotten but it’s impact was really heavily felt.
this list missed the best 2 ever. Reservoir Dogs and Animal Kingdom.