Extratextualsâ€™ 2007 Awards Extraordinaire, Pt. 2
Derek’s first part is a hard act to follow, but I decided to focus on trailers, teasers, hype, and TV opening credit sequences. I’ll wage in later about the TV opening credit sequences, but for now, should the clip embedding work:
Best Movie Trailer
Trailers are one of the most underrated, under-appreciated art forms in the contemporary media environment. Indeed, it bears reminding that amidst enthusiastic discussion of YouTube debates, political satire, reporting, virals, etc., many of the most viewed videos on YouTube are trailers. Moreover, as media companies try to saturate our daily lives with trailers, so that we see them somewhere, they also need to be aware that many of us will see many trailers multiple times, and so thereâ€™s a fine art to making a trailer that hasnâ€™t sickened you by the time you see it for the tenth time.
Runner-Up: Juno. Ideally, Iâ€™d have loved to pick two excellent trailers for bad movies here, but (a) I didnâ€™t see many movies in 2007, so I donâ€™t have much to work with, and (b) the point is that Junoâ€™s trailer had me convinced that Iâ€™d like the film. The crispness of the script jumps out at you, and it offers a supremely recognizable (ie: real, not Saved By the Bell-ized) high school life. Ellen Pageâ€™s performance announces itself as fantastic, and the trailer chooses wonderful scenes to showcase two great cult properties in Rainn Wilson and Michael Cera. Plus it has Allison Janney/CJ Cregg in it. It pandered to everything I wanted, right down to being filmed in my hometown, Vancouver (which I can nearly always tell visually. No bullshit. Itâ€™s the quality of the green. All that rain. And the sky. And the houses).
Winner: Vantage Point. I already blogged about this, so let me just link to it here. But I havenâ€™t seen it, and even if I donâ€™t, or donâ€™t like it, I think the trailer rocks.
More below the fold
Honorable Mention: The Simpsons Movie. The various trailers allayed my fears that the film would suck. But the mastery of getting Ralphie to sing along with the Fox brass (sadly, only in one of the trailers), and the wonders of Spider Pig were magical.
Worst: Funny Games. Okay, to begin with, the film just looks fucked up. Iâ€™m a dark person, but this seems too wrong even for me. And itâ€™s self-important, with that crummy operatic soundtrack and â€œinterestingâ€ photography in the beginning. But worst of all, the trailer utterly spoils the film (remake or no remake, itâ€™s still a spoiler of a trailer). If the trailer cut at 0.52, or at 1.14 at the latest, we might have something, namely suspense and intrigue. Real horror lies in the fear of what might happen â€“ itâ€™s what happens before Jason (the hockey mask guy, not Mittell or Bateman) jumps out of the dark, not so much what happens after he does. Yet this trailer shows us way too much of what happens. Down to the clear suggestion that the guys rape Naomi Watts, and subject her to continuous sexual torture. So Iâ€™m supposed to watch this why?? I think Watts and Tim Roth are great, but this trailer completely turned me off.
Best Movie Teaser
Alongside the trailer, teasers are becoming more and more prominent in the media landscape too. Probably because so many films are part of franchises, so teasers can whet insatiable fan appetites. And in light of my above complaints about Funny Games, trailers are often so enjoyable to me because they donâ€™t tend to spoil. They merely gesture.
Runner-Up: Transformers. I played with the toys as a kid, but never really cared for the show, and so wasnâ€™t predisposed to care much about a film. But the teaser trailer is fun because it seemed to promise an alien invasion film, only to let on that it was a Transformers film late. It struck a nice playful tone (important when underneath the very cool transforming title is â€œMichael Bay,â€ hardly my go-to director for, well, anything). The teaser also succeeded in catching me unaware â€“ I had no knowledge that a Transformer film was even being made.
Winner: Cloverfield. However, the clear winner for me is this one. I may not even bother to see the movie, and the trailers that are out now donâ€™t grab me, but the genre game that this teaser plays is smart. Everything about the opening scenes suggests to me one of two plotlines: weâ€™re either going to follow this guy as he travels, â€œlearning about lifeâ€ alongside him (â€œcome with us and experience the world through the eyes. Of Carl,â€ I can almost hear the trailer announcer saying), or his mum will get sick and he wonâ€™t be able to travel, hence learning about â€œwhatâ€™s really important in lifeâ€ (â€œSometimes, lifeâ€™s unexpected detours are what make us who we areâ€). Then the lights go out. Okay, so J.J. Abrams is replicating his Lost trailer, with the change-up pitch of the monster in the middle of an otherwise seemingly clear genre pic. But it works. Really well. And it hit like lightning in clear sky. It had me wondering wtf is out there, just as with Lost. Again, I had no knowledge of this project, and the fact that a quick trip to imdb after I first saw this yielded a film with (at that point) no name added even more cool points.
Worst: The Dark Knight. Nowadays, weâ€™re getting better teasers and trailers, but the Batman logo with a few snippets of dialogue is piss-poor, and a violation of the rule of teasers. You canâ€™t just say youâ€™re making a film: you need to give something. This one sucked, telling me nothing, showing me nothing.
Best Experimental Hype or Advertising Campaign, Any Medium
Runner-Up: Dirty Sexy Money. Bad show. But their poster art was some of the best coming into the 2007-2008 season, and they had a forceful, yet not overdone presence. Why Iâ€™m giving them props, though, is because of their neat act of getting ads on Perez Hilton, all written in Perez style about the showâ€™s rich and obnoxious Darling family. Exactly the right place to advertise the show, and cute to playfully integrate the family into our established pantheon of the Rich and the Reprehensible. Struck a great tone while grabbing a young demo in a fun, wink-wink way.
Winner: The Simpsons Movie. Here, I quibble with Derek about the best franchise in 2007. Transformers bla bla bla, mate: Homer gave Optimus Prime a spanking. The conversion of 12 7-11â€™s across Canada and the US into Kwik E Marts was inspired. Filling them with Buzz Cola, pink donuts, snarky signs (â€œThree for the Price of Threeâ€), a Radioactive Man comic book, Krusty-Oâ€™s, and slushies was better. And then the whole premiere contest between the nationsâ€™ Springfields was cool for various reasons: (1) it was nice to see Hollywood focus on smaller towns, not just NYC and LA, and it suggested something of the heart of the show that takes the piss out of smalltown America yet still avoids seeming like an urban elite treatise, and that really loves its victims when it comes down to it; (2) some of the results were fun; and (3) rather than starting from scratch, it played into a long-running debate carried out by Springfieldians and non-Springfieldians alike of where the â€œrealâ€ Springfield is. (Vermont, so they say, but Iâ€™m still holding out for Northern Kentucky). Finally, I appreciate that we didnâ€™t get Homer overkill in the lead-up to the movieâ€™s release.
Worst: Bee Movie. While talking of overkill, oh man was I sick of bees this year. And none of them were funny. I was scared to use public washrooms for fear of being accosted by Jerry Seinfeld, since he was everywhere. And none of it was funny. Itâ€™s like the writerâ€™s strike started early with this filmâ€™s hype (or, more to the point, it showed why you should hire and pay actual writers to do stand-alone promo work). None. Of. It. Was. Funny. Indeed, the fact that the first joke I reached for a few sentences ago was about toilets and human refuse tells you what subconscious associations Bee Movie has in my mind due to this botched campaign. For more criticism, see here.
I’ll be back with more later.Tags: Cloverfield, Dark Knight, Dirty Sexy Money, Funny Games, Juno, previews, Simpsons, trailers, Transformers, Vantage Point