5. “Us”
While technically this spot for “Us” was released in 2018 (on Christmas Day, no less), Jordan Peele‘s ambitious, creepy sophomore effort about doppelgangers and the evil in us all definitely featured an arresting trailer that shook the culture when it dropped. So here it is. From the expert use of Luniz’s “I Got Five On It,” which mutates into a sinister variation that eventually wound up in the finished film, to the way that the movie scares the hell out of you simply by posing itself as an invasion thriller with a bunch of creepy doubles and not letting on to its larger societal/cultural implications, plus a bunch of images that, out of context, don’t mean much but were actually huge spoilers (Lupita Nyong’o’s journey into the underground world, Pluto walking into the fire, bunnies). Audiences flocked to the film and it’s easy to see why: this was a killer spot. – DT

4. “Marriage Story” (Dual Teasers)
A minor controversy erupted following the Netflix debut of Noah Baumbach‘s tender Netflix drama “Marriage Story” — whose side was the filmmaker actually taking? But what the film should make abundantly clear, and what is very evident from these initial, beautifully produced trailers, is that’s missing the point. “Marriage Story” is a movie that memorializes the heartbreak of divorce, the love that became shattered and the family that had to readjust their lives to the practicalities of a broken relationship, but also try and stick together. Two halves of a relationship are dramatized, as those two halves fall away and one big sentiment seemed like the big take away from the trailers: this movie is going to devastate me (and it did). Beautifully integrating the letters Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver write each other as a counseling exercise, the trailers feel like a work of art in and of themselves and perfectly prime you for the scope and feeling of the film that will soon leave you in tears. – DT

3. “Midsommar”
Filmmaker Ari Aster emotionally traumatized audiences with “Hereditary,” his dark, bleak and devastatingly look at the horrific legacy of what our families pass down to us. For his follow-up, “Midsommar,” he tried something distinctly different—at least with its trailer. Warm, sunny, sun-kissed and welcoming, the trailer for “Midsommar” is a thing of beauty that invites you in. Like the movie, it’s something of a misdirecting trick. Elliptical and enticing, the teaser (still the best promotional clip in the lead-up to the film) tells you all you really need to know about the movie: a young girl goes to Sweden for a pagan festival, and just as it all seems like a fun, ambitious adventure, shit goes south. The entire trailer is just subtle, atmospheric, and totally creepy music set to quick clips of action that are taken from various points in the film but never give anything away. Artistic and arresting, everything about this trailer feels like a part of Aster’s crazy, fever-dream world, from the A24 logo at the beginning sprouting flowers to the tagline at the end (“Sommar 2019”), this one shook and held you immediately. – DT

2. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
In a world where kindness, tolerance, and civility is sorely lacking, is it any wonder two movies have been made about the patron saint of gentleness and compassion, Mister Fred Rodgers, the beloved host of the popular children’s television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood?” And that’s basically what the trailer— and Marielle Heller‘s beautiful movie “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood“—immediately conveys (the portrait “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” came out in 2018 and was a massive hit on the documentary level). Starring Tom Hanks, as the kind and understanding Fred Rodgers, ‘Beautiful Day’ immediately strikes a chord thanks to evocative imagery that immediately sends us back that safe and special place of Rodgers’ show, the tenderness and kind-heartedness, he afforded all guests on the show and viewers, and the affectionate, nostalgic musical riffs on the iconic ‘Neighborhood’ theme song. Was Fred Rogers a hero, the trailer asks? Not in his mind of course, but this acutely sensitive and wonder-attuned individual was something special and his small, warm acts of everyday kindness were heroic in their own small way. If you weren’t tearing up through this one, you might want to check your pulse. – Rodrigo Perez

1.”The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
“We built these ships, dredged these canals, in the San Francisco they never knew existed,” Danny Glover says solemnly in the first trailer for the terrific Sundance hit “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” “This is our home.” Evocative, sun-dappled striking images are laid out poetically like falling leaves and when you’re later told that ‘Last Black Man,’ was awarded the Best Directing Prize at the aforementioned Utah festival, after seeing this collection of arresting images, it’s no surprise. Bursting with joy once its poetic preamble has subsided, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is ostensibly about gentrification in SF, how black families and people of color are being pushed to the margins. But as the movie and this trailer artfully conveys, ‘Last Black Man’ is about so much more and essentially an elegiac, meaningful meditation on identity, who we are, where we come from, what happens if our roots are displaced, and does home define who we can become? “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is joyful, heartfelt, and deeply melancholy; an adult consideration of where we lay our head and what that means and goddamn, if this isn’t the most beautiful trailer of the year. – RP

Dishonorable Mention
But they weren’t all winners. The trailers for “Cats” continued to baffle, even after director Tom Hooper claimed that some of the effects in early spots were unfinished. And the response to the first “Sonic the Hedgehog” teaser led to a complete creative overhaul of the character, and a much-better second trailer (Jim Carrey still looks super cringe). Sadly, Will Smith’s CGI-created genie in “Aladdin” ended up looking just the same as he appeared in the trailers. Also, a big thing for trailers this year was just spoiling fucking everything, like “Dark Phoenix” explicitly giving away Jennifer Lawrence‘s death and “Pet Sematary” spoiling not only the kid’s death but that the gender and ages had been reversed for this incarnation. Both reveals were accompanied by Entertainment Weekly articles where the filmmakers explained themselves. The backlash was anticipated so they prepared accordingly.