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50 Greatest Trailers: The Experts Speak

50 Greatest Trailers: The Experts Speak (photo)

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When we humbly submitted our list of the 50 Greatest Movie Trailers the other week, we knew it would be controversial. There was internal debate about old versus new, blockbusters versus low-budget films, comedies versus dramas, teasers versus full-length trailers… and at the end of the day, we agree with Dan Asma, who defined a great trailer as one that leaves an audience saying to themselves, “whoa, I’ve got to see this movie.”

Asma is a partner at Buddha Jones, a leading movie trailer production house in Los Angeles, and one of the many professionals we polled about what makes a trailer more than a mere advertisement and their own personal favorites. Besides having produced many of the modern trailers that appeared on our list, this group of trailer makers have won numerous Golden Trailer Awards, the trailer cutting world’s equivalent of an Oscar (which is why we’ve linked to their memorable credits). Along with their picks, we also consulted with our own experts — our readers, who have suggested many overlooked gems in the past few days. So while we still may not be able to wholly understand that elusive magic that goes into making a great two-minute spot, we are better able to appreciate it. First, here are the experts we spoke to:

Mark Woollen
Mark Woollen and Associates
Credits include:
The trailers for “Schindler’s List,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Garden State,” “Milk”

Across the board, I’m just a huge Kubrick fan, so I think his work has been incredibly influential in trailers, beyond movies and everything. I was glad to see on your list that a number of his pieces were there. [At the behest of the many readers who asked for it, we’ll present the trailer for “Clockwork Orange” here.]

[As for my own trailers], I started in the early ’90s and they’ve gotten a little more complex, but what I’m trying to do is bring out those elements that just give you an impression of the movie, hopefully not going into too much story, not revealing too much, but just kind of picking out what’s special about a movie and trying to convey that. I still go back to the trailer I did for “Schindler’s List,” which is still one of my favorites, in terms of the emotional quality. It was simple with just a piece of music and really conveyed the feeling I was talking about in terms of giving you a sense of what it’s going to be like to watch the movie.

John Long, Lee Harry, and Dan Asma
Partners at Buddha Jones
Credits include:
The trailers for “No Country for Old Men,” “The Hangover,” “Tropic Thunder,” “The Strangers,” “Jackass II,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Superman Returns”

Dan Asma: The most effective trailers or the most successful trailers are ones that had their own kind of artistry to them, meaning that the first job in a good trailer is obviously to sell a movie, but trailers to me that are really successful have their own kind of mission itself, which is to yes, build this heat, but also to have a certain process or way of telling a story that in and of itself is very evocative. And I think “Little Children” is a perfect example of that, where there’s a real artistry in the trailer as well as creating an anticipation like wow, not only is that cool in and of itself, but I’d be curious to see what the movie’s like based on how cool this trailer is.

John Long: There’s something about the shorthand of trailers that allows you to create a message in a unique way very quickly. I’m going back now, all the way back to the teaser for “Jaws” — it was basically this POV of the shark in the water, but it created anticipation, it created dread, it created this unbelievable sense of unease in a very short order because it was so masterfully put together.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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