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Best of 2013: Film

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It's becoming harder and harder to stand out in the film category -- one that remains one of the most powerful ways to reach audiences. It was a year where involved storytelling and emotional executions made the difference. Here are Creativity's picks of the 2013 television, online video and branded content work, representing a perfect balance of idea and execution.

Also, check out our picks for 2013's Best in Print/OOH/Design and 2013's Best of Integrated/Interactive.

#10: Apple: Intention

It's been a while since we've seen this side of Apple: bold, brash, and unafraid. But at this year's WWDC, when the company introduced a suite of new products, it also reasserted its brand values wiith this design-minded and quintessentially Apple film that played at the end of the event. "Intention," by TBWA/Media Arts Lab and animated out of Buck, is a sophisticated, but pointed jab at the company's competitors, who are too busy "building everything" to ever really perfect one thing. A collection of dots and dashes make that point succintly, while poetic copy ("we start to confuse convenience with joy, abundance with choice") accompanies lilting piano music.

Accompanying this film is a TV spot, "Our Signature," a more traditional, but still lovely commercial. Directed by Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine") of @radical.media , it showcases the various uses of Apple products, focusing on the way they make people film and the impact they have, while keeping the various iPads, iPhones and Macbooks in the periphery, firmly positioning Apple as a conduit to a better life, instead of a company that expects your life to revolve around it.

No. 9 Kmart: Ship My Pants

How could a "best of the year" rundown be complete in 2013 without Kmart's "Ship My Pants"? DraftFCB made brilliant use of sophomoric humor to create one of the year's biggest cultural moments from the ad world, which comes in at No. 9 in the TV/film category. It all began with "Ship My Pants," although the gag later extended to "Big Gas Savings" and "Ship My Trousers," too.

No. 8: Budweiser: Clydesdales

Coming in at No. 8 in the film category is one of this year's best tear jerkers, a commercial returning the popular Clydesdales to the Super Bowl, via Anomaly and RSA director Jake Scott. The ad tells the story of a Clydesdale owner and his horse that, combined with the Stevie Nicks soundtrack, is sure to make you reach for tissues. The brewer supported the ad with a Twitter promotion that asked fans to name the baby Clydesdale featured in the spot.

No. 7: Chipotle: The Scarecrow

At No. 7 in the film category is Chipotle's resoundingly successful follow up to "Back to the Start," its 2012 Cannes Grand Prix-winning film. This year, along with agency CAA Marketing, the restaurant introduced "The Scarecrow," which took an ultra-critical look at Big Food in order to highlight its own sustainably-sourced ethos. The film is accompanied by an interactive game, which features the same characters. Players fly through the city of Plenty to transport confined animals to open pastures, fill fields with crops at Scarecrow Farms, and serve wholesome food to people at PlentyFull Plaza, while avoiding the menacing Crowbots. Chipotle will be giving away up to one million buy-one-get-one free offers to consumers who successfully play it.

No. 6: Tullamore: The Other Wall

Of late, it seemed the world of alcohol advertising has been saturated with images of attractive millennials, either having a rollicking good time or in search of a deeper cause. But then, this short film running in Europe for Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, created out of New York boutique Opperman Weiss and directed by RSA's Laurence Dunmore came out, leaving the others in the dust with a simple approach: a beautiful story, expertly told.

The film, which comes in at No. 6 in our film category, opens with a crew of young, suited gents meandering through verdant hills to a rainy church graveyard. As they stroll together, shoulder to shoulder, maneuvering their way past headstones, they reflect on good times past and break out the Tullamore to toast one of their mates, who we presume has transitioned to a world beyond -- which, he has, but not in the way we're expecting.

No. 5: AT&T: It Can Wait

Werner Herzog, the eccentric director known for documenting the lives of unusual heroes (Grizzly Man) and antics like eating his shoe, has applied his skills to a new documentary "From One Second to the Next," a cautionary tale about the dangers of texting while driving from mobile providers AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. It's one of the few effective efforts we saw this year to address the growing problem.

No. 4 IBM: World's Smallest Movie

This year, IBM set a Guinness World Record for the world's smallest movie, with a film created using atoms (the smallest object known for engineering data storage). In a project created to "explore the limits of film-making", as well as to demonstrate IBM's data storage technology, the IBM technologists shrunk the screen down to the atomic level to create "The World's Smallest Movie: A Boy and His Atom."

The movie is comprised of almost 250 stop-motion frames that were combined into an animated film. Filming required thousands of precisely placed atoms to act as actors, props, and scenes as well as a two-ton microscope that operates at -268 degrees Celsius. You can see more about how it was made here. Agency Ogilvy & Mather North America worked on the project.

As part of the project, IBM also created Star Trek- inspired images made out of atoms, which will launch exclusively on its Star Trek Into Darkness mobile app.

No. 3: Geico: Hump Day

Is there a commercial that forayed so deep into the public consciousness as Geico's "Hump Day" this year? Probably not, which is why this spot comes in at No. 3 in the Film category in our "Best of 2013" countdown. The Martin Agency released this execution of its "Happier Than" campaign on a Wednesday and then sat back and watched as it spawned legions of imitators (our favorite was Dirk Nowitzski) and even got itself banned from a middle school.

No. 2 Volvo's The Epic Split

This epic split by Jean-Claude Van Damme might have been this year's musical moment. Because it wasn't Van Damme's strange position, atop two Volvo Trucks, that made this spot the most-viewed automotive commercial on YouTube ever. It was the brilliant placement of Enya's "Only Time." The spot was directed by Andreas Nilsson and created via Forsman & Bodenfors. The ad was filmed in Spain, on a landing field, in one take, and might be the best of Volvo's live tests, which have included a hamster steering a truck and a vehicle trying to outrun some bulls.

No. 1 Dove's Real Beauty Sketches

Dove's social experiment to prove that women are more beautiful than they themselves think takes top honors in this category. In a campaign by Ogilvy Brazil, filmed by John X Carey of Paranoid in a San Francisco loft, the beauty brand employed FBI-trained forensic sketch artist Gil Zamora, who usually sketches people described by crime eyewitnesses. First he drew portraits of women according to their own description, and then he drew portraits of those same women according to strangers who had met them on the day. The differences between how they describe themselves and how others describe them are immediately striking. The full campaign includes a short documentary, four films documenting women's reactions to the portraits, and outdoor executions. The wildly successful campaign won the brand the Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes 2013.

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