2009 Golden Trailers

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Golden Trailer Awards given by the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. (Yes, trophies exist in Hollywood even for previews.) The list of this year's winners may be viewed here.

Naturally, a celebration of film previews is, at its heart, a celebration of promotion. This aspect of the task is most candidly acknowledged in the Golden Fleece Award. This audience favourite goes to the trailer that does the best job of making a stinker look good. In seeking nominees the committee looks for films that were badly reviewed but had good opening weekends and sank out of sight thereafter. Any time that happens, the credit (or blame, depending on your point of view) goes to successful promoters. It's likely that the film's trailer made it look promising. And it's likely that the producers of the trailer did not find the task easy, given the material they had to work with. Studio execs appreciate the wizardry, as that opening weekend revenue is pretty much all they have to show from the loss.

The legend among Golden Fleece Award winners is Pearl Harbor (2001). The trailer is every bit as compelling a piece of cinema as the film itself isn't. Yours truly was among the fleeced that year. The experience taught me never to step out the door without first checking Rotten Tomatoes.

Speaking of legends, though: I'm delighted the Golden Trailers renamed the Best Voice Over Award in honour of the late Don LaFontaine. Known as 'The Voice of God' in the industry, LaFontaine never had a name most moviegoers recognised. But everyone knows the voice.

Imagine an action film preview. Over jagged scenes of explosions, mayhem and badly shaven guys wearing tense, grim facial expressions, a narrator intones:

In a world gone mad...

one man...

stands alone...

heavily armed.

You know that voice. Everyone knows that voice. It's Don LaFontaine.


Conductor's Notebook

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