28. Spike Jonze

Filmmaker

After an initial viewing of Where the Wild Things Are, Warner Bros. execs called it "too weird" and "too scary." Turns out Spike Jonze, 40, felt the same about his first major studio experience. So the visual provocateur returned to advertising to rehab his spirit. (His music videos and Gap, Ikea, Nike, and Adidas commercials are hallowed among creatives.) He hasn't lost his edge: His ad for Japan's Softbank cast Brad Pitt as a sumo wrestler's personal assistant. His most audacious work of the year is "I'm Here," a 30-minute—yes, minute—Absolut spot with TBWA\Chiat\Day about robot love in Los Angeles. Loosely based on The Giving Tree, the branded short premiered at Sundance and refers only obliquely to the vodka—in a hardware sex scene, the coital interface plug is shaped like the iconic bottle.

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