I'm not a big fan of top ten lists. For the past couple weeks, a slew of people have bothered me for my top ten films of the year -- a list I've never felt comfortable putting together, regardless of what year we're in. The thing is, I cannot for the life of me throw together such a list when I haven't seen most of the films that probably would have made the list had I managed to catch a screening. Thus, I'd have to call it something like, "The Top Ten Films Erik Watched in 2006 ... But Keep in Mind He Hasn't Seen (insert a good ten titles here)." Now, how much fun would a list like that be?

However, movie trailers are a whole different animal. I don't have to see a film to judge a trailer, and the previews for pretty much every film released in 2006 (as well as a ton to be released in 2007) are available online for me to watch. But how does one go about picking the top ten trailers of the year? Well, first off, your opinion should be based solely on the trailer, and not the film (if you happened to have seen it). And, when you watch the trailer, you should ask yourself two questions: 1) How much does this trailer make you want to see the film and 2) How badly do you want to show this trailer to everyone you know? If the answer to both those questions is, "Holy crap, you have no idea how much I want to see that film, and I definitely need to show my friends this trailer right now!" -- congrats, it's most likely in your top ten.

Of course, there are a number of other factors to throw in to the mix. Do you connect with the trailer on an emotional level -- does it hit a certain personal spot that ultimately rises it above the rest? Does the trailer help you tap into an experience, a moment, a thought, a person or a song you once cherished? Is it edited well? Does it tease a story without giving away too many details? Quite simply, does it work?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with The Top Ten Trailers of 2006:

  1. Casino Royale (trailer 1) -- He's new, he's blonde ... and he's back! James Bond first exploded onto the scene with this rock-your-socks-off trailer, and most (if not all) of you were instantly hooked. Daniel Craig looked cool and crisp -- his women were gorgeous, yet their eyes warned us of danger ahead -- and that classic score keeps building to a point where you're literally about to fall off your seat. For me, this was the best trailer of the year, as it teased us just enough with the perfect mix of action, romance and nostalgia. Once it was finished, we certainly got the point -- James Bond was back ... in a big way.
  2. 300 (trailer 1) -- Say what you want about the special effects and how they may or may not take away from the story ... or whatever your lame reason might be -- the first trailer for 300 absolutely blew me away. With its Nine Inch Nails-esque score, mind-blowing visuals, intense dialogue and some wicked editing, this trailer makes 300 look like like one helluva moviegoing experience -- the kind of flick you absolutely must see in a theater surrounded by a few hundred people. And, believe you me, I shall "dine in hell" on opening day.
  3. Smokin' Aces (trailer 1) -- Director Joe Carnahan is known for injecting a whole lot of style into his films. So what if that style happens to be borrowed from folks like Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, it's fun, it's alive and it's bursting with flavor. Case in point: The first trailer for Carnahan's upcoming Smokin' Aces is just slightly out of control -- packed full of high-octane fun, patiently waiting for you to snort up in one sitting.
  4. Superman Returns (trailer 1 and trailer 2) -- Fans of the Man of Steel had been anticipating Bryan Singer's Superman Returns for a long time. Skeptics said Routh could never replace Reeves, but you have to admit that a little piece of you was dying to watch a new version of Superman -- one that could utilize all the fantastic special effects technology absent from the earlier films. Then came the first trailer ... the one that made some fanboys weep. And then, halfway through the second trailer, you heard the first sounds of that classic John Williams score. If that wasn't enough to give you goosebumps, then your heart is as cold and dark as the night ... or something like that.
  5. Stranger Than Fiction -- There was just something about this trailer -- perhaps it was its perfect blend of humor and heart -- or its delicious little concept that kept poking at my brain, shouting, "Hey man, go watch that again. And again. And again." At first glance, Stranger than Fiction appeared to be the comedy I had been waiting for -- smart, funny and a good cast, with jokes that naturally arrive on our laps instead of being shoved down our throats.
  6. World Trade Center -- The first trailer for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center was passionate, emotional and difficult to watch for a lot of my fellow New Yorkers. It looked good and it felt right -- the kind of trailer that rips out your heart, throws it on the table and forces it to get in touch with painful memories. The wounds were and still are not fully healed, but there are stories to be told and it felt good to see they were being told in the right way.
  7. Rocky Balboa -- Like with Superman Returns, the trailer for Rocky Balboa evoked a warm, fuzzy feeling that was impossible to ignore. Add to it that memorable Bill Conti score and suddenly you're a kid again, standing alongside Rocky as he gets set to step into the ring for one last time. Besides all those snappy, heart-felt one-liners, wasn't it nice to see Stallone back on the big screen?
  8. The Science of Sleep -- With this follow-up to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, director Michel Gondry once again takes on one heck of a mind trip -- deep inside the thoughts, feeling and emotions of a painfully flawed man who falls in love with the girl next door. And the trailer tells us just enough to know that this film will not be like anything else you'll see all year. Bizarre visuals pave the way for a dream-like score and dialogue that just briefly touches you in all the right spots.
  9. An Inconvenient Truth -- Wasn't it nice to watch a trailer that actually meant something -- a trailer that tossed aside fancy special effects and familiar Hollywood stars in order to convey an extremely important life or death message? Sure, Al Gore may sound like he's just downed four shots of NyQuil, but after watching the preview for An Inconvenient Truth, something inside all of us quietly whispered, "Dude, you must see this film. You must see this film right now."
  10. Four Eyed Monsters (trailer 1 and trailer 2) -- When you look at the films above, Four Eyed Monsters (the little buzzed-about indie film quietly dancing around the internet) seems like a bizarre choice to throw on a list like this. However, the two trailers created by the filmmakers (and not some major studio) are both wonderful to watch. As always, their choice of music is spot on and the editing -- combined with those low-budget visuals -- creatively tease a story that speaks to the love addict inside all of us.