The continuing global pandemic still had a toll to take on the 2021 movie landscape, meaning that not as many big movie hits as we might have expected—or rather, hoped—actually made it to the big screen. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t get lots of trailers for films that either did eventually make it out in some form or another this year, or got delayed—and they still got us very excited.
The Matrix Resurrections
As someone who spent way too much time in Matrix chatrooms in the early aughts, I was trying to temper my expectations for a fourth film in the series. The story had been put to bed a while ago and honestly, it was not something I expected to see carry on. The mere announcement that The Matrix: Resurrections was happening filled me with dread… and then came the trailer. Was it déjà vu? Absolutely, but knowing Lana Wachowski made the choice to go for it wholeheartedly gives me hope. The trailer itself was tightly crafted and utilized possibly the most on-the-nose yet perfect song choice. Confusing imagery and new characters were tossed around but that meeting between Neo and Trinity in the cafe made my heart skip a beat. No matter how the film turns out, we’ll always have this trailer. - Jill Pantozzi
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)
Look, we were always going to pop off at our first look at the sequel to the greatest superhero movie of all time, but wow does Across the Spider-Verse look fantastic or what? As vibrant and colorful as its predecessor, with some fun new visual updates to Miles, Gwen, and Miguel’s Spider-Suits, even this tiny first step for us and Miles into the big wide multiverse has us counting down the days to October 2022. - James Whitbrook
The Black Phone
We knew that Scott Derrickson’s return to full-on horror (he made Doctor Strange, but he’s forever imprinted into our nightmares thanks to films like Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose) was something we didn’t want to miss. But the first trailer for The Black Phone, which stars Sinister’s Ethan Hawke as a serial child killer known as “The Grabber,” gave us chills for days. The phone in question is located in the Grabber’s basement lair, where his latest kidnap victim waits for a date with death… unless the ghosts of kids who’ve already died there can help him first. Suspenseful, eerie, and filled with the promise of what looks like an utterly creeptastic performance from Hawke, we’re nervously but excitedly awaiting February 4, when we can pick up this call. - Cheryl Eddy
“Crank it all the way up.” So says Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto in one of the most action-packed, straight-up bonkers movie trailers you’ll ever see. This trailer has everything. Flying cars, zip lines, impossible magnets, explosions, plane crashes, and a car shooting into uncharted territory. Yes, you read that right. What truly made the second trailer for F9 (the first one came out back in early 2020, before covid-19 delayed the film into 2021) so spectacular and memorable is that besides being an incredibly well edited, pulse-pounding trailer, it ended with our first tease of the franchise’s ultimate aspiration: that car would literally go into space. And while the full space sequence is saved for the actual movie, just a glimpse of a car with rockets strapped to it flying into the sky was enough to make anyone chuckle and say “OK, I’ve got to see this.” - Germain Lussier
The Green Knight
The first trailer for David Lowry’s moody, artsy retelling of the medieval Sir Gawain and the Green Knight myth was so visually striking it knocked us on our butts. From the gnarled, wooden appearance of the Knight at King Arthur’s door to Gawain’s crowned head bursting into flame, every frame was gorgeous and portentous. The movie, starring Dev Patel, was also stunningly beautiful, but the narrative left us cold. As we said earlier on this list... at least we’ll always have this trailer. - Rob Bricken
We might somehow still be waiting for it after a big delay from its Japanese release date this year, but our first glimpse at Shinji Higuchi and Hideaki Anno’s next Shin take on a toku icon—and none other than one of Anno’s primary influences as a creator—gave us a dazzling look at the giant of light in full on kaiju-battling action. Time will tell what Shin Ultraman will offer, like Shin Godzilla before it, beyond its giant action, but at least we know so far the battles will be horrifyingly good to behold. - James Whitbrook
The first trailer for A24's Lamb—from director Valdimar Jóhannsson—came out of left field. Lamb-herding fields, to be exact. Noomi Rapace is outstanding at evoking a particular type of dread but whoever cut this trailer is a master at building suspense and setting a mood. Was what going on really what we thought was going on? Should someone be saying something about what was clearly a lamb-human hybrid suddenly being born? Just when you think all hell is about to break loose… the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” kicks in to completely screw with your head… and then all hell breaks loose. Perhaps the cherry on top of this bizarre trailer was the cat who clearly knew what was going to happen but was helpless to stop it. - Jill Pantozzi
One of the sickly fascinating ideas put on display in the trailer for Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall is that after decades of humanity trying muck about in space while there was plenty of important business to attend to back on Earth, the moon’s had enough. We all know that the most thrilling moments in disaster movies are when things are being destroyed by forces of nature, and Moonfall’s first trailer makes it seem like the movie’s going spend at least some time making you root for whatever it is on the moon that’s keen on smashing into the Earth and destroying everything it touches. - Charles Pulliam-Moore
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