Every fall, as Thanksgiving approaches, we CreativeFuture employees receive an e-mail (slightly reworded from last year) asking us to report what we’ve appreciated during the past year. ‘Tis the season for us to release involuntary groans as we wonder how we’re going to dredge up the appropriate sentiments once again. We let the deadline pass.

Eventually, after persistent reminders, which culminate in decidedly unseasonable (and, might we add, unreasonable) threats, we start to remember films we’ve seen, books we’ve read, and songs we’ve heard. As we grudgingly admit, many of them brought a touch of warmth, thrill of delight, or other unaccustomed feeling to our stony hearts. We begin to make a list.

Here are the results of our reluctant soul-searching in 2023. As you will see, we’re not immune to inspiration. Under sedimented layers of bad attitudes, we remain grateful for amazing works of creativity.

We hope our list will help you prepare for another Thanksgiving!

Creation: Gran Turismo

Creatives: Neill Blomkamp, David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Archie Madekwe, Djimon Hounsou, Jann Mardenborough, and Columbia Pictures

Why We’re Thankful: Centuries after the War of the Ring, Legolas had laid down his bow and arrows to market cars for Nissan. Under an alias, he proposed a bold campaign: Nissan would sponsor a racecar driver recruited from a group of top players of a popular racing video game. Thus began the adventures of Jann Mardenborough.

We loved Neill Blomkamp’s adaptation of the 19-year-old’s story. Our hearts pounded during the driving stunts, often performed by Mardenborough himself. Our eyes watered during emotional scenes between Jann (Madekwe) and his trainer (Harbour) or father (Hounsou). We enthusiastically recommend Gran Turismo to all movie lovers, not just fans of cars or video games.

Creation: Past Lives

Creatives: Celine Song, Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro, and A24

Why We’re Thankful: In this partly autobiographical debut film by playwright Celine Song, Nora (Lee) periodically reconnects with her childhood friend Hae Sung (Yoo), whom she expected to marry until she left Korea. Years later, Nora’s husband, Arthur (Magaro), patiently tolerates a renewed connection between Nora and Hae Sung, which is profound yet difficult to explain.

The romance that could have been haunts the different romance that came to be. The result is a remarkably complicated, poignant love story. The film is sad, beautiful, and moving, so we weren’t surprised to read that some audience members “stayed behind in tears” after an early screening.

Creation: Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Creatives: Eiji Aonuma and Nintendo

Why We’re Thankful: We’ve devoted countless hours to finding secrets and solving puzzles in Zelda games. This year, the adventures of its elfin hero, Link, continued in Tears of the Kingdom, which gives players unprecedented flexibility to surmount obstacles.

As producer Aonuma demonstrated, Link can use new abilities to create surprising objects, such as target-seeking arrows or motor-powered rafts. In an interview, Aonuma explained his design philosophy: “I would really be happy if our game encourages imaginative thinking.” In that spirit, we’re applying our newly honed ingenuity to a proposal for additional Paid Time Off to play this educational game.

Creation: Las Vegas Sphere

Creatives: Sphere Entertainment Company

Why We’re Thankful: Since this architectural marvel was completed, its exterior LED screens have been used to place a giant eyeball and other spectacular objects on the Las Vegas skyline. We’re even more excited about the interior screen, which tantalizes us with the prospect of grand and immersive theatrical experiences.

During U2’s inaugural residency, audiences beheld dazzling murals of flying creatures by Es Devlin and other wondrous sights. In October, Darren Aronofsky’s sci-fi film Postcard from Earth began to play as part of The Sphere Experience. We can’t wait to see what else creatives will dream up for this first-of-its-kind canvas!

Creation: Superbowl LVII Halftime Show

Creatives: Rihanna

Why We’re Thankful: Rihanna hadn’t given a live performance in over five years when she appeared at the Super Bowl, descending on a platform suspended by nearly invisible cables. While a record number of viewers – over 121 million –  tuned in for the halftime show, CreativeFuture Office Manager Jeannie Lalau watched for her daughter among the backup dancers.

Rihanna joined them on the ground before ascending again. Then, Rihanna sang “Diamonds” alone in a darkened stadium, surrounded by sparkly lights. During the applause, no one cheered more loudly than Jeannie. Her daughter had just achieved a dream of performing at the Super Bowl!

Creation: Across the Spider-Verse

Creatives: Sony Pictures Animation

Why We’re Thankful: We admired the brilliant animation in this sequel to Into the Spider-Verse (2018), which emboldened filmmakers to try experimental techniques. As the story of Miles Morales continues, animators still refuse to rely on familiar templates. Instead, an astonishing level of hand-drawn detail appears in nearly every frame.

In Across the Spider-Verse’s eclectic style, shapes have intriguing asymmetries, surfaces have palpable textures, and forms are almost always in motion. The impact is thrilling, so we’re eager for another sequel. Heedless of other obligations, we’ll be heading to the movie theater as soon as it is released.

Creation: Untold, Volume 3

Creatives: The Players’ Tribune

Why We’re Thankful: Most of our staff members like sports, but ALL of us like juicy scandals. That’s why we appreciate the Untold documentaries, which expose athletes’ dramatic lives beyond their ballyards or ka-whammy rings. (Our writer didn’t fret over sports terminology.)

Untold’s third season treats viewers to disgraceful tales of sibling rivalry, banned drugs, and – as always – self-destructive quests for fame. We were used to making popcorn in anticipation of workplace conflicts over who sullied the ice cube scoop or when it’s time to pack up for the day. We have been far more engrossed by the larger-than-life struggles in Untold, Volume 3.

Creation: Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance

Creatives: John Waters

Why We’re Thankful: When we learned that the filmmaker behind Desperate Living wrote a novel, we knew that it would be full of the most deplorable smut. We couldn’t wait to buy a copy. Soon, our propensity toward vice led us to the audiobook, narrated unapologetically by Waters himself.

The main characters are defined by unique perversions. Marsha Sprinkle, an airport luggage thief, cannot tell the truth. Her daughter, Poppy, is addicted to bouncing motion, while Marsha’s mother, Adora, performs plastic surgery on dogs. Recently, Waters said he would direct a film adaptation, giving us even more to relish at our Thanksgiving feast.

That’s our roundup! Now, to finish getting ready for Thanksgiving, we just need to fix the food preferences of a couple recalcitrant colleagues.

A certain Vice President of Communications won’t stop raving about Villa’s Tacos and the FIVE lobster rolls he ate over SIX days in Cape Cod. Meanwhile, we’re worried the office vegan might disgrace the holiday with his abominable baking.

Let’s just say we hope you have a more appropriate and appetizing meal in mind …

Until next time, find some creativity wherever you can. Stay safe – and be well!

Happy Thanksgiving!