This is never an easy process, people – with so many great ads coming out during each and every Super Bowl, how can you ever whittle it down to just five without feeling like you are leaving something great off of the list?

This year the challenge we face is a bit different, actually: overall, this was a remarkably weak year for Super Bowl spots! Most of the advertising of Super Bowl XLVIII displayed about the same level of quality as the Denver Broncos showed during the game itself (boom, Bronco burn!), so this year we find ourselves not so much looking for the best of the best, but rather for the least bad of the garbage.

OK, maybe that was a bit harsh, but there was certainly no “Mean Joe Green” or “1984” type of classic commercial from Super Bowl XLVIII. Here are the five best for our money, though… and now let the bitter debates begin!

# 5 – NSA  – “We’re There For You”

The National Security Agency came through with flying colors in their first ever Super Bowl commercial! While we’re only putting their ad in our #5 slot, they should still be very proud to be on the list at all in this, their first ever big game appearance. Their commercial was informative and amusing, and in no way made us lock all the doors and disconnect the phone before donning our tinfoil hat. All they needed to make it higher up into the rankings is an A-list actor or some puppies!

# 4 – Coke – “It’s Beautiful”

We were as amazed as the ad execs over at Coca-Cola must have been that this commercial caused such an ugly stir! When we first watched this ad, we thought it was a lovely display of all the varied people and cultures that come together to make this country great. We hardly realized that “America the Beautiful” was being sung in multiple languages, and we surely didn’t mind. Ah but the public did! Apparently it’s anathema to sing the National Anthem in anything but English… and never mind that the National Anthem is actually “The Star Spangled Banner.”

#3 – KIA – “The Truth”

What can we say, we’re suckers for that moment when Morpheus/Laurence Fishburne starts lip synching to opera! Also, this commercial manages to do a great job of being amusing and informative, the age old struggle for a Super Bowl spot. Now, if you are one of the three or four people unfamiliar with the “Matrix” movie series, however, then you are probably not going to share our enthusiasm for the KIA K900 Super Bowl commercial.

# 2 – Microsoft – “Empowering”

This commercial was powerful, pure and simple. It shows many of the amazing things technology can do for people, and it showed the human side: we watch as people benefit in profound ways from remarkable technological achievements. Anyone not touched by this ad might want to book a session with a therapist on the sooner side.

#1 – AXE – “Make Love, Not War”

We’re still not sure how Axe went from the company making commercials featuring oiled up coeds on the beach to creating a moving short film, but they did. There really is no other term for this video; calling it merely a commercial denigrates this truly cinematic achievement. And if you have not had the chance to see the full 60 second version of Axe’s Super Bowl commercial, check it out in our archives, because it is even more powerful than this shortened but still superlative version.