First of all: yes, there is an Illusion of the Year contest. And it is pretty spectacular. How spectacular? Well, the brain breaker you see below didn't even win first place. (It did win second place, though, because there is justice in this world.) Made by Kokichi Sugihara at Meiji University in Japan, the "Ambiguous Cylinder" illusion is just so dang perplexing.

This is the description of the piece on the Illusion of the Year site:

The direct views of the objects and their mirror images generate quite different interpretations of the 3D shapes. They look like vertical cylinders, but their sections appear to be different; in one view they appear to be rectangles, while in the other view they appear to be circles. We cannot correct our interpretations although we logically know that they come from the same objects. Even if the object is rotated in front of a viewer, it is difficult to understand the true shape of the object, and thus the illusion does not disappear.


If you are trying to give the illusion of understanding that right now, you are not alone.