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Amanda Mae Meyncke

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Amanda Meyncke lives in Los Angeles and writes about movies for a living. She often looks around for someone to congratulate her, but there is no one there.

Trailer Power Rankings: David O. Russell ‘Hustles’ His Way to the Top

american hustle trailer

A great movie can have a bad trailer, and a good trailer can even make a bad movie look palatable. Duh, I know. The secret is looking past the loud music and pathetic voiceover, and reading the tea leaves that remain — pouring over them, in fact — is what gives us the key to the future, for therein the truth of the movie remains. You can almost always tell if you want to see something after only a few minutes, which is why trailers work so hard to get our attention, basically begging us to love them, accept them, remember them, go see the movies they depict and then tell our friends about them. Also buying some popcorn on our way in, but that’s a different thing.

This week? Trailers, this week? Legends foretold of this week. Scrawled on the walls of caves and written in the stars was a promise of future glory, and this week it’s all come to fruition. There’s not only strong dramas, beautiful imagery with bold new worlds to discover, there’s plenty of assertive action, wild comedy and over the top disgusting-ness to be found as well. It’s all a bit much after the lackluster few weeks that we’ve been slogging through, but we few, we proud, we band of brothers have found a way through and come out on the other side stronger, smarter, and more judgey, if anything at all. Down to brass tacks, let us get.

1.) ‘American Hustle’

Trailer of the Year? I still don’t even quite know what this movie is about and it doesn’t matter at all. Pretty sure this movie was all a ploy to get Jennifer Lawrence into 1970s period garb. Director David O. Russell has crafted what looks like the best actors of the moment doing some of their best work to date, and the trailer has the gall to not give too much of it away! It’s clear there’s con men working their angles and beautiful dames working all theirs, there’s the appropriate smash cuts and music playing, as a trailer this hits all the right notes, and as a means of giving us a look at what will be one of the best movies of the year, it’s a damn symphony whittled down to a tight two minute sneak peek. Which probably means there’s some ghastly 5 minute behemoth trailer on the horizon, but for today? For today, there is all this is, and it’s perfect.
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams
Release Date: December 25, 2013

2.) ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

A remake-ish remake of the wonderful Danny Kaye movie, this trailer is beautiful, but kind of annoying in a weird way. I think the music is too loud? Too… intentionally moving or something. Disgruntling, to be sure. Also the only spoken dialogue involves Ben Stiller comically selecting to drive a red car. Hilar! However, it is beautiful, and I loved the original movie, so here’s hoping this one is even half as good. Also, Kristen Wiig as an object of desire and Adam Scott as a bully is everything one could ever hope for, ever. Gorgeous!
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Ben Stiller, Adam Scott
Release Date: December 25, 2013

3.) ‘All is Lost’

Robert Redford alone on a boat when disaster strikes — he runs out of mirrors! Wait, no… the boat is compromised and he must begin dying in a life raft as sharks circle. This looks harrowing, but what would reeeeally be a lot of fun is to imagine that this is a documentary of a few hours in the life of Robert Redford. A boat trip along the Eastern seaboard, just a man and his thoughts, perhaps jotting down a few notes about next year’s Sundance, when all of a sudden he finds himself lashing himself to a liferaft and pointing a flare gun down the muzzle of a very angry shark. Robert Redford In Various Dangerous Situations is a TV show that should exist. That it does not is simply because no one has pitched it yet, so can someone please pick up the slack on that?
Starring: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2017038/?ref_=sr_1
Release Date: October 18 2013

4.) ‘Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa’

Ugh, I watched this stupid trailer twice. There’s something so satisfying about duping the American public, and if Sasha Baron Cohen ever teamed up with Johnny Knoxville, the college crowd, who all gleefully plunks down their dollars for these movies, might have a collective brain aneurysm. This one has a loose narrative structure that involves a grandfather taking his grandson across country, getting into various scrapes with townspeople who have no idea they’re being filmed. Stupid. Stupid funny. I hate myself for watching this, but I have to see that horrible child beauty pageant strip scene again, which is everything “Little Miss Sunshine” never dared to be.
Release Date: October 25th, 2013

5.) ‘Jayne Mansfield’s Car’

Family drama. Billy Bob Thornton directs. I kept hoping this movie was somehow MORE about Jayne Mansfield’s Car, but it’s only tangentially related at best. Alas! Not as bad as it looks at first, there seems to be something sweet and poignant in this tale of cross-continental familial drama. When the matriarch dies, her two warring families find themselves stuck with each other. Frances O’Connor! I forget about her sometimes, but I sure do love remembering. Also, check out Kevin Bacon’s… wig?
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Ray Stevenson, Robert Patrick
Release Date: 2013

6.) ‘Haunter’

Abigail Breslin is growing up, uh, nicely. Let me check how old she is before I continue. SEVENTEEN. Jeeeees, stop talking right now. Anyway, she seems like a reasonable human being with a good head on her shoulders, so maybe this movie isn’t the worst thing ever.

A year before filming began, one can imagine her lounging near the pool outside her palatial Beverly Hills home, awaiting news of her “Carrie” audition when a butler walks up and whispers the news that Chloe Grace Moretz has been cast. Another blow for our heroine, another character slips through her slim fingers to her. “Morris, bring me the next horror script that comes in,” Breslin snarls. “We’re doing it.” Morris nods his assent, backing away slowly and Breslin scowls into the hot California sun, picking idly at the nail polish on her thumbnail.
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, David Hewlett
Release Date: 2013

7.) ‘Romeo & Juliet’

The book that everyone had to read when they were 14 finally gets a big screen adaptation!!1! Just kidding, everyone under the sun has made this movie at least once in their careers, why not Julian Fellowes in-between seasons of “Downton Abbey”? Can you imagine how awkward this would be to go on as a first date movie when you’re like 15? All the language to focus on, trying to figure out what’s happening, awkward nakedness — just no. However, A Complete List of Things I Might See This Movie For: Damian Lewis. Also, Chuck Bass doing his best Shekspeeeer. This would make a nice box set with Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, but what will be our third movie? Anyway, one must applaud the efforts of filmmakers left and right to introduce Shekspeeer to the youths. Brush up your Shakespeare, young ones.
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Paul Giamatti, Ed Westwick
Release Date: September 6, 2013

8.) ‘Mr. Morgan’s Last Love’

If there’s anything anyone loves, it’s a weirdly inspiring story about old people getting over their dead loved ones. When that old person is Michael Caine, at least there’s more of a chance of someone loving it. This movie looks like it plays a big switcheroo and you think the last love is Clemence Poesy but the last love is probably Michael Caine’s son, played by that guy who was in “Weeds”, and they mean like love-love not like sexy-times-love. If the last love is actually Poesy then maybe this is some kind of modern “Last Tango in Paris”. I don’t know, I can’t remember what happens in that one except it’s shocking and there’s shocking banging. I watched this twice and still didn’t see Gillian Anderson in it, but maybe this is the new The X-Files movie!! (No, it’s not. Sigh.)
Starring: Gillian Anderson, Michael Caine, Clémence Poésy
Release Date: 2013

9.) ‘Lone Survivor’

Four attractive guys who can actually all act: +4
Cheesy music: -1
Mark Wahlberg’s Arms: +2 (obviously)
Subject matter that involves a military operation in the Middle East: -100
Over the top patriotism and macho-ness: draw
Giving away huge plot points that actually could have had some emotional impact if unseen: -200
Implication that everyone dies but one person: -100000

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Eric Bana
Release Date: January 10, 2014

10.) ‘Bad Milo’

It pains me to write this sentence, but: A demon comes out of a man’s butt and wreaks havoc on his enemies. Like a long College Humor skit gone bad, “Bad Milo” is one of those movies that is probably awesome for exactly the length of the trailer, and absolutely the opposite of awesome all the rest of the time. Definitely an idea that someone came up with while either intoxicated or desperately casting about for ideas in a pitch meeting. “Or, and now hear me out, what if… there was a butt… and a monster came out of it…” Dear, sweet Gillian Jacobs is in this, so if you love her or anyone in it, maybe it’s right up your… alley.
Starring: Ken Marino, Patrick Warburton, Peter Stormare, Gillian Jacobs
Release Date: 2013

Just like Michael Caine, we’ll always have Paris, I mean, next week. Come back then for more rankings!


Categories: Columns, Trailer Roundup

Tags: All is Lost, American Hustle, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Trailer power rankings

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