In the spirit of “Who actually watches the game?,” here is our ranking of Sunday night’s Super Bowl commercials, from best to worst.
Ground rules: Only ads shown on the national CBS broadcast during the game were eligible. Not included are some non-commercial (religious, political, social advocacy) spots and most movie trailers and promos for television and streaming broadcasts.
The Best of the Bunch
These are the ones we’ll remember for at least a day or two.
Christopher Walken makes fun of people making fun of Christopher Walken, with a cameo performance by the Super Bowl halftime star Usher. As always, he walks the walk.
Aubrey Plaza flat-affects her way through life with the help of a carbonated citrus beverage. Plaza is reliably droll, and there’s a late “Parks and Recreation” homage.
Aliens (a theme in this year’s ads) come to earth and can’t get our attention until they figure out how to get on the internet. It is handsomely directed by Martin Scorsese (working with the “Barbie” cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto), though it’s not at all clear what’s being advertised.
A chocolate ball bops around the world to the tune of Perry Como’s “Round and Round.” Shiny, bouncy candy.
‘A Quiet Place: Day One’
Lupita Nyong’o faces an alien invasion in a prequel film to John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place.” The clear winner among the movie trailers.
A man with low vision records his life in sharp photographs using a new feature of the Google Pixel. Touching story with a predictable but effective big finish.
A blustery Ben Affleck tries to impress an unimpressed Jennifer Lopez while an embarrassed Matt Damon and enthusiastic Tom Brady look on. Pleasant buzz of star power.
A pair of lifelike babies play pickleball with a pair of obnoxious adults in need of schooling. One of the few ads whose humor has anything resembling a bite.
Attractive young people in grainy, retro split-screen video try to convince us of the healthy nature of the sodas sold by this Austin, Texas-based beverage company. Visually fizzy.
National Football League
A youngster imagines playing American football as he runs through a crowded Ghanaian market accompanied by N.F.L. players, then emerges into an N.F.L. international training program and encounters the former New York Giant Osi Umenyiora. Better ground game than the Chiefs or 49ers.
Vince Vaughn explains that Tom Brady, and only Tom Brady, is not allowed to use the sports betting service because he has already won too much. Vaughn-to-Brady is a winning combination.
The Perfectly Fine
These get an A for effort and a B- for execution.
The “Abbott Elementary” star Quinta Brunson tells us (twice) to do our taxes. Brunson is so darn likable that it seems like a good idea.
Cardi B raps about lip gloss; an accompanying comedy bit about men using Duck Plump to plump something other than their lips was available online but not shown on CBS. The timidity was disappointing but Cardi B is never not funny.
Aliens come to earth and, naturally, need an apartment. Simple-minded but any scenario benefits from the presence of Jeff Goldblum.
America realizes it needs to give France a gift in return for the Statue of Liberty, uses Etsy to send a giant cheese board. Sounds cute, and it is.
Dad of the year uses his Kia EV9 to light a pop-up ice rink so a young figure skater can perform for her ailing grandfather. (Or at least that’s what it looks like.) High-horsepower tear-jerker.
The Coors Light train roars across the country to salvage an awkward big-game party. Forward momentum and an amusing five-second LL Cool J cameo.
The American dream as lived by an immigrant named the Beetle, from 1949 to the present, set to “I Am … I Said.” Herbie goes to Ellis Island.
A pair of abuelas named Dina and Mita go into avenger mode when a young guy grabs the last bag of Dinamita chips. Comic action with a brief appearance by Jenna Ortega.
Beyoncé, with the help of Tony Hale (in “Veep” mode), tries to break the internet as a saxophonist, cyborg, Barbie, astronaut and Botus. Sorry, BeyHive, but self-referential does not equal super.
Everyday people contemplate the differences that the Copilot A.I. assistant could make in their lives. Evocative and (intentionally?) a little eerie.
STōK Cold Brew
Anthony Hopkins lampoons his own gravitas to sell cold brew coffee as well as promote the Wrexham soccer club. Sir Anthony is in good form but his 2016 spot for TurboTax was funnier.
Inoffensive but Forgettable
They tried. Nobody got hurt.
Zach Braff and Donald Faison of “Scrubs” join Jason Momoa for a “Flashdance”-inspired musical ode to cutting the cord. Lively, though is this something anyone still needs to be told? (The first T-Mobile spot, with celebrities doing goofy auditions, was more pedestrian.)
A farm grows human couch potatoes who are irrigated with constant streams of their favorite programming. This elaborately staged comic-dystopian scenario is awfully close for comfort.
Randall Park pretends to be John Krasinski in a promo, inspired by a similar gag in “The Office,” for Krasinski’s imaginary-friend film “IF.” Park spars amusingly with Ryan Reynolds but yes, every movie trailer really is too long.
As the movie hero Agent State Farm, Arnold Schwarzenegger sends up his film persona and his actual accent. Schwarzenegger is charming but the joke runs thin faaaast.
Candies joyfully dance before being popped into the mouth of the influencer Addison Rae. Nothing much to it, but watching a big gummy pirouette to “Flashdance … What a Feeling” is just a little bit mesmerizing.
The Clydesdales come out of retirement to pull a wagon of beer through the snow. Artful nostalgia, though who thought “The Weight” was an appropriate anthem for beer delivery?
A sporty young woman runs through lovely mountain landscapes. The clothes won’t make the rest of us look that good.
Young female athletes take pratfalls across a variety of sports in what turns out to be a public service announcement for body positivity. Engaging but not quite coherent.
Had some talent involved but the result sailed wide right.
Tina Fey’s former castmates from “30 Rock” play variations of her to demonstrate that you can be anyone you want on vacation. Funny people trapped in a moldy premise.
The rapper Ice Spice, hanging out at the club with PepsiCo.’s Starry, is ambushed by her ex, a generic lemon-lime soda. It’s a blandly cute scenario with a twist of horror.
The fictitious outing of Michael Cera as the mastermind behind the similarly spelled cosmetics line continues in a sendup of dreamy, narcissistic designer-brand commercials. Could have used an exfoliator.
‘N.F.L. Sunday Ticket’
Evoking Carroll Ballard’s wonderful film “Fly Away Home,” a solo pilot follows uniformed Eagles and Seahawks who are migrating away from the football season. Just barely achieves flight.
Lionel Messi kicks a soccer ball around a beach while waiting for his beer; Jason Sudeikis and Dan Marino are among the onlookers. Stylish shrug.
Ken Jeong is unfrozen into a present day full of miracles: fanny packs, drone delivery, Popeyes’ new chicken wings. Studiously neutral about the current state of the world.
Bass Pro Shops
Photogenic middle Americans pilot Bass Tracker fishing boats around picturesque lakes. Straightforward, as if made for local late-night.
A woman in a red body suit yells “Pop me!” in a pitch for pimple patches. Memorable for the wrong reasons.
Chris Pratt puts on a walrus mustache and goes viral as the Pringles guy. Cute but does not answer the question, “Chris Pratt?”
Kate McKinnon and a monosyllabic cat make mayonnaise fly off the shelves in a high-concept spot that has something to do with food waste. Would have been better, and $7 million cheaper, at 30 seconds.
Women chant “hot flash” and “not flash” to promote the prescription menopause medication. Lukewarm.
Various celebrities forget things because of the brain space required to remember everything Uber Eats delivers; for example, Jennifer Aniston forgets David Schwimmer. Maybe they could have ordered a less labored premise?
The messaging app tries to sell itself by putting down the features that characterize other social media. Hey, I like likes!
The Flagrant Missteps
Famous people and millions of dollars that together can’t quite amount to mediocrity.
Dan Marino, Terrell Owens and Bruce Smith receive rings for having come close to winning the Super Bowl. Scarlett Johansson’s cameo can’t save it.
Part “Westworld,” part “Star Wars”: a cybersecurity tech in a digital Old West town fights off alien invaders with her tablet. Least exciting showdown ever.
The drug company invokes a long history of scientists, including Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, to celebrate its 175-year existence. Visually inventive, but there’s no vaccine against overreach.
A magic bottle grants wishes, including palling around with Peyton Manning and Post Malone. From a beer with reduced calories, a world of diminished expectations.
Rick Hoffman and Gina Torres of “Suits” and Judy Sheindlin of “Judge Judy” in a courtroom scenario that parodies both shows. Objection: relevance.
The comedian Rob Riggle jogs in Miller Lite body paint for the brand’s “Running of the Beers” campaign. Doesn’t really go anywhere.
Dan Levy of “Schitt’s Creek” and Heidi Gardner of “Saturday Night Live” run through various frenetic scenarios in a series of ads for the online real estate company. Could have used more Jeff Goldblum.
Being in the presence of a Kawasaki Ridge makes both people and animals grow mullets. Boring in the front, boring in the back.
Mr. T chastises Tony Romo, who called the big game for CBS on Sunday night, for pointing out that there is no “t” in Skechers. Pity is called for.
A living room focus group reacts zanily to news about a new peanut butter candy. Hackneyed high jinks (which is probably the point, but still).
The Worst of the Bunch
It takes real effort to be this bad.
Flipping a coin is replaced by twisting an Oreo, in momentous decisions from the Trojan War to the creation of “The Kardashians.” Crème de la creaky.
Actors, athletes, animated figures, reality stars and the band Creed gather on a snowy mountain to do something that involves Patrick Stewart mildly embarrassing himself. Makes no good argument for the necessity of second-tier streaming services.
The Chinese e-commerce company repeated its “shop like a billionaire” theme from last year, with an animated young woman spinning through a world of merchandise. Positing that everything we see has a price tag may be realistic but should it inspire you to shop?
Fifteen seconds of slightly surreal, “artificial” sports action followed by 15 seconds of “real,” BodyArmor-approved sports action. I’ll have the artificial, please.
Toyota Tacomas tool around the desert while people in the passenger seat make bug eyes and hold the grab handle for dear life. Unlikely to grab you.
The comedian Eric André, ill on a plane, is tended to by an ice cream cone named Dr. Umstick. Apparently there wasn’t a writer on board.
The former Patriots star Rob Gronkowski misses a field goal live, losing money for some bettors and winning it for others. Lame right. (A later, recorded spot offered a tribute to the actor Carl Weathers, who died Feb. 1.)