It's not easy making a great movie, but you know what's even harder? Making a great trailer. After all, in a trailer you have just two short minutes to make your movie look cool. And since it's going to be showing right smack in the middle of a bunch of other trailers -- for an audience that probably just wants the feature to start -- it has to have enough style and punch to stand out from the pack, grab your attention and keep it.
Frankly, most trailers fail. Which is why we want to take a moment to celebrate those trailers that got it right and got our blood pumping this year. Of course, when you have a great trailer it can be hard to live up to the hype, so it's an ironic fact that some of these movies weren't nearly as good as the trailers themselves. But for two glorious minutes, anyway, these 10 trailers got us excited to head to the theater and be movie fans again. And that's what it's all about.
Here they are, the ten best trailers of 2011:
10. 'The Amazing Spider-Man'
The makers of the upcoming reboot "The Amazing Spider-Man" had a tall task in front of them: Not only do they have to deal with the fact that fans still vividly remember the original franchise (which finished up just five years ago), but they also have to contend with the fact that "The Amazing Spider-Man" is only the third most anticipated superhero film of 2012, behind both "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Avengers." So they had to knock it out of the park with their first trailer. Well, park, consider yourself knocked, because this clip manages to make "Spider-Man" both fresh and classic at the same time. Plus: Emma Stone. We can't wait for this to swing into theaters.
9. 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close'
And then there's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," which makes the dilemma facing the creators of "Spider-Man" look like a game of Candy Land. How, exactly, do you get audiences excited about a movie that tells the story of a kid whose dad dies on September 11? Here's how: a dash of Tom Hanks, a dollop of Sandra Bullock and a serious assist from U2, that's how. Funny how 10 years can vanish in just two short minutes.
8. 'The Artist'
If you're like us, your jaw probably hit the floor the first time you saw the trailer for "The Artist." It's in black and white? With no sound? What century are we living in here?! Funny thing, though: That black and white and that total lack of sound (other than the score) somehow made the clip even more powerful. No bells and whistles, no jump cuts or explosions or booming voiceovers. Just people, living, feeling and reminding us that when it comes to the movies, it's not about special effects or 3-D tricks -- it's about the acting and the story, plain and simple.
7. 'The Avengers'
We'll be honest: It would be pretty hard to mess this one up. After all, "The Avengers" features Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans reprising their roles as "Iron Man," "Thor" and "Captain America" respectively, all in the same movie. Add in Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and we're guessing you could have taken any random assortment of clips from "The Avengers" and had a winning package. Considering the justifiably massive hype level for "The Avengers," though, the fact that the trailer actually lives up to -- and builds upon -- that hype has to be considered some kind of small miracle.
6. 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'
When you're making a thriller, you need to create tension; but the people behind the trailer for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" might have gone just a little bit overboard, because by the time you finish watching these two minutes of restrained fear, you'll probably need a box of Xanax to soothe your nerves. Each tiny cut in this trailer serves a purpose, and that purpose is to make you shiver with unease. Just the half-second shot of that door opening behind David Dencik at the 1:30 mark is enough to make us reach for the gin.
5. 'The Hunger Games'
Speaking of highly anticipated films, "The Hunger Games" has probably been the most buzzed-about movie of 2012 so far, with every tiny little detail -- up to and including the color of lead actress Jennifer Lawrence's hair -- being debated and argued over online. All the worrywarts and naysayers had to swallow their tongues when the trailer finally arrived, though, because it's clear from the opening shot that all those details have been absolutely nailed. Is it March yet?
4. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2'
It's not easy satisfying the expectations of an entire generation of humanity. Trust us, we've tried it. But the most anticipated movie of the young century did just that, and it all started with a brilliant trailer that had fans -- and even non-fans, if such a thing even exists when it comes to "Harry Potter" -- clamoring to see the eighth and final installment of the 'Harry Potter" phenomenon. It's not often that a series actually saves the best for last, but when it comes to trailers, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" did exactly that. And the film itself was pretty good, too.
3. 'Snow White and the Huntsman'
Considering the film is named "Snow White and the Huntsman," there's a great deal of Evil Queen in this trailer instead. But when that queen is a Charlize Theron indulging in naked milk baths, well, we'll let it slide. Especially since the slow build of dastardly queenitude just makes it more badass when Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman -- and especially Kristen Stewart's Snow White -- finally do show up. With two competing "Snow White" movies coming out next year, this trailer had to be good in order to catch our interest. Mission most definitely accomplished.
Pundits are still trying to figure out why "Drive" failed at the box office, but most of them put the blame on the trailer -- because it's so damn awesome. See, the theory is that the trailer makes the movie look like a fantastic "Pulp Fiction"-style action thriller, but since the film is actually slower and more restrained than the high-octane trailer, fans could only be disappointed by the results. Oh well. When you have a trailer this badass, we're guessing it's hard to fulfill expectations, but don't worry, Ryan Gosling: We'll always have these two minutes, and that's more than good enough for us.
1. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'
Was there ever any doubt what the number one trailer of the year was? David Fincher's clip for his highly anticipated adaptation of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" was a shot of pure adrenaline thanks to the driving Led Zeppelin soundtrack and the jarring cuts, the pounding beat and even the wonderfully interstitial titles. If you don't know what that means, don't worry -- it's just technical jargon meaning "this s**t's f**ked up." We never knew our lives could be changed so much in just one and a half minutes.