It’s a tricky thing to sell a movie in less than three minutes. You can give away too much, tease too little; or with the wrong music and scenes make your movie look worse than it may or may not be.
But this year, there were 19 trailers that knocked our socks off. From major blockbusters to smaller indies, here’s the 19 best movie trailers of 2013 as decided by the MTV Movies Team. Oh, and a quick hint to your prospective trailer makers: if you want to make the list, put Scarlett Johansson or Amy Adams in your flick. They each show up three times, and once in the same movie:
19. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
The first trailer for “The Hunger Games” sequel escalated the action and danger from the first movie, while only beginning to hint at the huge twist halfway through the film. That’s some good marketin’.
18. “Star Trek Into Darkness”
The teaser focused on Benedict Cumberbatch’s “John Harrison.” The first trailer made the movie look like a romp. But the third and final trailer? Squarely focused on Captain Kirk, and all the more epic for it — while not giving away even one iota of the plot.
17. “Iron Man 3”
While the first trailer for Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” played like a horror movie, the second was the bid budget Tony Stark adventure we were all waiting for, setting up the conflict between Tony and the villainous Mandarin. In retrospect, a brilliant bit of bait and switch, but still works just fine.
16. “Don Jon”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut gets a non-traditional tease, showing off the repetitive nature of the main character’s life before settling down once Scarlett Johansson comes on screen. Bonus points for JGL singing “Good Vibrations.”
15. “This Is The End”
The red-band trailer for MTV News’ #2 movie of the year is raunchy, violent and totally hilarious. Just like the movie.
14. “Now You See Me”
You know there’s a trick going on in this trailer about four magician/criminals. You look for the trick. But you’re going to have to see the movie to find out what it is.
13. “You’re Next”
For the first 30 seconds, this seems like an indie family drama. And then the animal masks show up. By the time a corrupted version of “Perfect Day” kicks in, things have amped up into true horror/action mode.
12. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
The trailer for this superhero sequel is epic, looking like the true follow-up to “Marvel’s The Avengers” we’ve been waiting for.
11. “Spring Breakers”
The trailer for Harmony Korine’s movie perfectly channels the vibe from the dirtiest looking neon-filled thriller since “Wild Things.”
10. “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”
This full trailer from “Anchorman 2” delivered the goods, with some ridiculous jokes about bowling balls and scorpions, vampires, and book-ended by great moments with Brick.
9. “Pain And Gain”
Most indie movies don’t have this many explosions. But then, most “indie” movies aren’t directed by Michael Bay. The trailer has Bay elements, yes, but also emphasizes the insane humor with some classic lines from Mark Wahlberg and The Rock.
8. “Escape From Tomorrow”
Like it says in one of the critics quotes in the trailer, it’s impossible to believe that a surreal, black and white horror movie set in DisneyWorld was actually filmed in DisneyWorld. The movie may not quite follow through, but this teaser is the most surreal minute you’ll watch all year.
7. “American Hustle”
Nothing on screen made a movie look more fun, more ridiculous, and sexier than the trailer for “American Hustle.” Plus: that hair. Oh god, the hair.
6. “The Lego Movie”
Who would have thought a movie based on a block toy would be this exciting, or funny? Credit killer lines from Chris Pratt, as well as cameos from Batman, Wonder Woman, and Abraham Lincoln for making this one of our most anticipated of next year.
9. “Grand Budapest Hotel”
That sure is a Wes Anderson trailer, isn’t it? Yet no matter how many times the auteur is parodied or skewered for his style, he still does it better than anyone. Charming, hilarious, exciting and surprising, this trailer has it all.
8. “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty”
This moody, beautifully filmed clip is not at all what you’d expect from comedian Ben Stiller; and that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Accompanied by Of Monsters and Men’s “Dirty Paws,” this trailer accomplishes with only three sentences what most can’t with an entire two minutes worth of words.
7. “The Conjuring”
This is possibly the scariest movie trailer ever made. That’s all. Don’t ever watch this with the lights off. Clap, clap.
The first look at next Summer’s monster spectacular is epic and terrifying. Instead of focusing on the monster, we get mostly silent (and gorgeous) action scenes, and completely silent scenes of terror and destruction. Consider the bad taste left by 1998’s failure washed out of our mouths, mainly because our jaws are hanging open.
5. “The Bling Ring”
The vapid, fame-obsessed criminals of “The Bling Ring” get an appropriately glitzy trailer, with a killer last line. Wonder what Lindsay thinks of this trailer?
You can always a trust a Spike Jonze movie to deliver a spectacular, haunting trailer and “Her” stays true to form. In two minutes and thirty seconds, we perfectly understand why Joaquin Phoenix’s sad loner would fall in love with Scarlett Johansson’s operating system, based solely on her voice.
3. “Man of Steel”
Paired with our first hint of Hans Zimmer’s brilliant score, we see the journey of Superman from baby, to man, to hero. Unlike the movie — which took a far more nihilistic view — this trailer emphasizes everything that makes Superman great, and once more made us believe a man could fly.
The main selling point of “Gravity” is perfectly encapsulated in this, for the most part, one-shot trailer. It got more terrifying on the big screen, but not by much.
1. “The Wolf Of Wall Street”
Just like the movie itself, the trailer builds, and builds, and just when you don’t think things can get more insane, Matthew McConaughey starts thumping his chest and singing in a crowded restaurant. Brilliantly edited, acted, and makes the viewer dying to see more. In short, a perfect trailer.