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Find some inspiration today with the top 5 animations of 2021

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It’s been a year! Wherever the past 11 months went, we are now in December and it’s time to start looking back on everything good that happened this year. What better way to start than by listing the best animations from 2021?

Top 5 animated campaigns and films of 2021

With the world slowly going back to a relative new normal, animation campaigns in 2021 haven’t been as numerous or widespread as last year, but we’ve still seen some impressive ads and films being crafted in the scene – all with great storytelling at heart.

Earlier this year, The Annual 2021 gave us all in the industry the chance to celebrate creativity and talent with some of the most ambitious, unique and influential work in the history of Creativepool. It is no wonder that most of the campaigns below will show up in our list of winners as well, courtesy of some of the best animation companies on Creativepool.

1. ‘Sinking Feeling’ by Blue Zoo Animation Studio for Papyrus UK

Anything that Blue Zoo Animation Studio does is worthy of great praise, from their Back to the Future trilogy for Playmobil to this little film here. The team’s unique approach to production involves making a studio-wide call for pitches, with the resulting ideas being then voted by the rest of the team to reach actual production. Sinking Feeling, a Gold in this year’s Annual 2021, is the result of one of those calls.

Wanting to use their resources and platform to assist others, Blue Zoo endeavoured to help Papyrus UK in their mission to reduce youth suicide – especially relevant after the many lockdowns we’ve been through. To say the team delivered would be an understatement; Sinking Feeling is nothing short of a masterpiece, bringing together the work of over 60 artists and treating the subject with extreme delicacy and sensitivity. A beautiful piece of animation from this year.

2. ‘Unbreakable’ by Roof Studio for Area 23 & Insmed

Have you ever heard of the Nontuberculous Mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease? If not, this is precisely the reason why Roof Studio set to help agency Area 23 and biopharmaceutical company Insmed in raising awareness of the illness – in a rather unique and compelling way.

Unbreakable is one of the best animations of the year, a visual metaphor of the NTM experience. It is based on actual NTM patient stories and follows Barbara the Bunny, a plush toy expelled from its factory of origin due to ‘quality control’ issues – continuous cough which has her spit out a piece of her fabric. Barbara’s journey to find a specialist to help treat her with her disease is a touching, beautiful story of hope, masterfully animated and incredibly evocative at every step. How can you not connect with that little bunny?

And since it was released in January, it nearly didn’t make this list!

3. ‘A Christmas Carrot’ by McCann UK for Aldi

When it comes to Christmas ads, Aldi never compromises on quality. While there were many great animated Christmas ads this year, McCann UK’s effort in bringing A Christmas Carol to Aldi is impossible to ignore.

Aldi had us all worried when Ebanana Scrooge made his first appearance, with people all over socials concerned that the age of Kevin the Carrot would be over. Not quite. This entirely made-in-Aldi version of A Christmas Carol features both Kevin and Ebanana, in a wonderfully animated short film on the value of sharing at Christmas.

4. 'The Stepdad' by The Walt Disney Company

And on the subject of Christmas ads, The Walt Disney Company's in-house team met the expectations this year too, with a wonderful little ad on the value of family and sacrifice – whatever your role in the family may be. The spot follows the figure of a stepdad trying his best to help his family enjoy Christmas – of course with a little help from The Mouse.

Following up last year's touching From Our Family To Yours, this ad may not have you grope for tissues as much, but it's still as compelling and beautifully animated as you would expect from the Disney team, with very few equals craft-wise in other masterworks from 2021.

5. 'The Scapegoat' by Ambassadors for ASN Bank

The poor Scapegoat can’t help but be blamed for everything bad that happens in the forest, and apparently this time they’re on trial for eating a flower – much to the despair of the bees who need them to pollinate. But in his own special way, the Scapegoat also helps fertilise the land… and so the Wise Owl decides to let him go.

This beautiful little scene from Ambassadors was crafted to support ASN Bank as part of a wider campaign on how money can create happiness for people. After all, the very value of money resides simply in what you decide to do with it – and if you choose to invest in the environment and sustainability, you will reap the fruits of your hard commitment. Of course, this wonderful story is narrated in the usual Ambassadors way: with no compromise on quality, and with top-notch care for composition, craft and animation.

Bonus. ‘Utopian South’ by Leo Uehara

We wrap up this year’s list of best animations of 2021 with a unique twist: a personal project from a freelancer in the community, rather than a studio. Leo Uehara’s Utopian South is the only project to have won a Silver in this year’s Annual 2021 Animation category, and just a few seconds will suffice to understand what truly impressed the judges.

A journey into Leo’s own childhood through music and incredibly visionary animations, the film is about leaving your hometown and finding it changed after some time – a nostalgic musical journey which becomes an experience for all the senses, as Leo’s unique eye guides us in a psychedelic vortex of sensations and beautiful memories.

The best and most inspiring animations of 2021

This year has been one full of surprises, but if there’s one thing that keeps remaining the same, it is the consistency and quality of all the beautiful works being produced by the animation industry each year. 2021’s top animations are all touching in their own way, a triumph of storytelling and emotions to gently lead the viewer on an intimate journey.

Did you like one animation or campaign which did not make the list? Let us know in the comments!

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