30 Best Thanksgiving Movies To Watch

11 mins read
Screenshot / YouTube 2018 Copyright

Watching movies is a sensible Thanksgiving Day tradition. Who wouldn’t want to relax with a good movie after a filling feast of turkey and pumpkin pie? Here is a treasure trove of films you can watch on Thanksgiving Day. Some depict scenes from Thanksgiving, while others are festive. It features food, family, comedy, and drama.

30 Best Thanksgiving Movies

Here is the master list of the best Thanksgiving movies, including timeless films like Miracle on 34th Street and the newly released Holidate.

  1. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

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Screenshot/ YouTube 2020 Copyright

A Warner Bros special, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, is the best Thanksgiving movie that the entire family can watch. For Thanksgiving dinner, the Brown family plans to visit their grandmother’s house. However, everything goes wrong when Charlie Brown gets a call from Peppermint Patty.

Patty, who is having a lonely Thanksgiving, asks to join them for dinner. Peppermint Patty quickly adds Marcie and Franklin to the invite list for a Thanksgiving dinner that did not exist. Charlie is confused as usual.

On November 20, 1973, the animation debuted on the CBS network, and it received an Emmy the next year. It was the third holiday special to air, after It’s the Great Pumpkin (1966) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965).

  1. You’ve Got Mail

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With two Thanksgiving scene, Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail (1998) is the perfect holiday romantic comedy. In the film, Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) are online lovers who aren’t aware that they are also business rivals. The movie marked the third pairing of Hanks and Ryan, and was lauded for their chemistry.

The Thanksgiving Day scene in the movie, Cash Only Line is a fan favorite!

  1. Addams Family Values

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Screenshot, YouTube 2018 Copyright

The second installment in the franchise, Addams Family Values (1993), is the choice to go for if you love a nice comedy. The story revolves around the Addams family members, who are in an attempt to save Uncle Fester from his gold-digging wife, Debbie, who also happens to be a serial killer who specializes in murdering wealthy men in order to claim their inheritance.

Addams Family Values is one of those uncommon sequels that outperforms its original. It is stylish, humorous, and playful.

  1. A Family Thanksgiving

A warm thanksgiving flick, A Family Thanksgiving (2010), follows a workaholic lawyer, Claudia who disregards her parents and siblings in the pursuit of her firm’s partnership. A strange woman teaches her the value of family through magic.

A Hallmark Channel Original Movie, it is directed by Neill Fearnley and stars Daphne Zuniga, Gina Holden and Faye Dunaway in the lead roles.

  1. Free Birds

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Reggie and Jake, two turkeys on a quest to remove turkeys from the Thanksgiving menu, are the main characters of the 2013 film Free Birds. They have to go back in time to the 1600s for this. Unfortunately, Myles Standish, a colonist on a hunt to catch turkeys for the hungry pilgrims, encounters the two birds.

The movie is directed by Jimmy Hayward. In Free Birds, Owen Wilson gave voice to Reggie, the “pardoned” turkey. It is one of the best Thanksgiving movies children love to watch.

  1. The Ice Storm

A seemingly perfect family in the 1970s starts to fall apart over the course of a turbulent Thanksgiving holiday. The father, Ben (Kevin Kline), is dissatisfied with his career and looks for pleasure by cheating on his wife, Elena (Joan Allen), with local seductress Janey (Sigourney Weaver). Meanwhile, their adolescent daughter Wendy (Christina Ricci) engages in sex with Janey’s son Mikey (Elijah). As the family struggles, an ice storm changes everything.

The film has an ensemble cast of Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, Glenn Fitzgerald, Jamey Sheridan, and Sigourney Weaver.

  1. Garfield’s Thanksgiving

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Another animated flick that the whole family can watch on Thanksgiving day, Garfield’s Thanksgiving, was aired on CBS in 1989.

Thanksgiving has arrived, and Garfield is ready to rock! However, veterinarian Liz , who is John’s date, puts Garfield on a diet. Will John’s grandma be able to save him when the Thanksgiving meal goes wrong, and will Garfield get to enjoy his holiday?

This movie was directed by Phil Roman, John Sparey, Bob Nesler and Gerard Baldwin.

  1. Soul Food

One of the best Thanksgiving movies, Soul Food (1997) is a heartwarming tale that follows the struggles of an African-American family. Customs tie the family together, but these start to wane as more pressing issues take the spotlight.

George Tillman Jr. directed the movie. The film has an ensemble cast of Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Michael Beach, Mekhi Phifer, Jeffrey D. Sams, Irma P. Hall, Gina Ravera, and Brandon Hammond.

  1. Pieces of April

Young Katie Holmes stars as April Burns, a quirky and disobedient young woman, lives with her boyfriend in a tiny New York City apartment, miles away from her emotionally detached family. However, after learning that her mother has terminal cancer, April chooses to throw a Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family. While April’s father struggles to bring her family to the city, she also encounters culinary challenges and needs the help of a neighbor (Sean Hayes).

The film, directed by Peter Hedges, stars Katie Holmes, Derek Luke, Sean Hayes, Alison Pill, Oliver Platt and Patricia Clarkson.

  1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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Steve Martin stars as Neal, a nervous marketing professional who has to get home for Thanksgiving. After his flight is canceled, he encounters Del Griffith (John Candy), a kind but obnoxious salesman, and goes through several mishaps.

For many, watching the movie on Thanksgiving Day has become a tradition. And this is one Thanksgiving film the entire family can watch.

  1. Paul Blart Mall Cop

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When a gang of organized crooks takes over a shopping mall, it’s up to a mild-mannered mall cop, Paul Blart to save the day. Kevin James plays the titular character.

The 2009 movie was almost entirely shot at Burlington Mall in Massachusetts. Sony Pictures distributed the film.

  1. Knives Out

A Thanksgiving movie for mystery fans, Knives Out (2019) features Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, a detective investigating the murder of mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey. A crowd-pleaser, Knives Out was designed as an Agatha Christie-style thriller.

The movie was directed by Rian Johnson and stars Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans,  Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

  1. Dan In Real Life

Dan In Real Life follows a widower and single father to three daughters, Dan Burns, who meets his perfect woman, Marie, at a large family homecoming. However, there is one issue: she is his younger brother’s girlfriend. The comedy-drama, directed by Peter Hedges, stars Steve Carell, Alison Pill, Juliette Binoche, Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney, and Dane Cook.

  1. Krisha

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Based on a real-life story, Krisha (2015) and stars Krisha Fairchild, director Trey Edward Shults’s aunt in the titular role. Krisha, a former addict, informs her relatives that she would like to visit them and cook a Thanksgiving dinner. As the rest of the days pan out, Krisha goes through an emotional trip.

  1. Home for the Holidays

Claudia Larson is a single mother who recently lost her job, has to spend Thanksgiving Day with her eccentric family. Just before she boards, her only daughter informs her that she has plans with her boyfriend. How will Claudia Larson’s Thanksgiving go?

The film stars Holly Hunter as Claudia Larson, Robert Downey Jr. as Tommy Larson, Anne Bancroft as Adele Larson, Claire Danes as Kitt Larson, and Charles Durning as Henry Larson. It was directed by Jodie Foster.

  1. Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow

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A lifetime television movie that features the Emmerson family, who are visiting Aunt Cly in the sleepy village of Turkey Hollow. Tim and Annie rapidly get bored without access to the Internet and start looking for the mysterious howling hoodoo, a monster in the village myth.

The film, directed by Kirk R. Thatcher, stars Mary Steenburgen, Jay Harrington, and Graham Verchere in the lead roles.

  1. Stepmom

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Jackie is terminally ill. However, she has no choice but to deal with Isabel, her ex-husband’s girlfriend and their children’s soon to be stepmom. Isabel, who genuinely loves the kids, is struggling to find her place in the family. A tearjerker, Stepmom (1998) has two memorable characters, played by Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon.

A Sony Pictures distribution, Stepmom, directed by Chris Columbus, was an instant box-office success.

  1. The Farewell

In The Farewell (2019), Chinese American writer Billi is super close to her paternal grandmother, Nai Nai. As her parents learn that Nai Nai has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, they decide to organize a surprise wedding. The grandmother is unaware of her illness. As the whole family gathers together for the wedding, Billi is upset about the dishonesty. The heart-touching story is based on the real-life of director Lulu Wang.

A beautiful family film, it stars Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, and Zhao Shu-Zhen in the lead roles. The film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival 2019.

  1. Scent Of A Woman

In Scent of a Woman, prep school student Charlie Simms gets a job on the Thanksgiving weekend to oversee Frank Slade, a blind, alcoholic Vietnam War veteran. However, the retired colonel has his own plans for the weekend. It features a beautiful friendship between the two men. Martin Brest directed the film, which stars Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell, James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Gabrielle Anwar.

For his performance in the film, Al Pacino won an Academy Award in the Best Actor category in 1993.

  1. The Blind Side

The Blind Side is a biographical sports film that chronicles the life story of American football offensive lineman Michael Oher, who, with the support of his adoptive parents, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, braved a difficult background to participate in the National Football League (NFL).

Sandra Bullock, who played the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in 2009. The movie also features Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, and Quinton Aaron as Oher. It was directed by John Lee Hancock.

  1. Grumpy Old Men

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Grumpy Old Men follows the life of Max and John, two friends turned foes neighbors. Their enmity is intensified when free spirted Ariel Truax moves to the house across the street and they both end up falling for her.

The 1993 American romcom is directed by Donald Petrie and stars Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak, Ossie Davis and Buck Henry. It has a sequel — Grumpier Old Men.

  1. The Big Chill

Alex Marshall has committed suicide. After his funeral, four of his college friends hold a reunion at a South Carolina vacation home. Conversations is around the good old days, while they also reevaluate their lives. The movie was an instant box office success.

The Big Chill was known for its music tracks, which featured 60s-70s pop-rock music, R&B, and soul by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, the Rolling Stones, and Three Dog Night.

The 1983 film, directed by Lawrence Kasdan, stars Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams.

  1. What’s Cooking?

For Thanksgiving dinner, four families from different cultural backgrounds (Latino, Asian/Vietnamese, African, and Jewish) gather in LA. Turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie are on the menu, but there are also tamales, spring rolls, kugel, mac & cheese, love, treachery, family feuds, hostility, politics, uninvited guests, unforeseen accidents, outlandish discussions, and all the other scrumptious and spicy surprises that come up when “modern” families gather for a thanksgiving feast.

This 2000 comedy film directed by Gurinder Chadha stars Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick, Joan Chen, Lainie Kazan, Maury Chaykin, Julianna Margulies, Alfre Woodard, and Dennis Haysbert.

  1. The Oath

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Chris and Kai, a suburban couple, are shocked when they get to hear about a new loyalty oath. According to this, American citizens have to swear allegiance to the United States government by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The couple holds a Thanksgiving dinner for the extended family. One thing leads to another, and Chris finds himself in a difficult spot.

The Oath is directed by Ike Barinholtz and stars Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, Nora Dunn and Chris Ellis in the lead roles.

  1. Miracle on 34th Street

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Miracle On 34th Street (1947) is one of the perennial Thanksgiving movies. The story that happens between Thanksgiving day and Christmas day in New York City, revolves around a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Santa. The movie is directed by George Seaton.

In the movie, Kris Kringle is hired for the role of Santa at Macy’s New York City store on 34th Street. As Kringle starts to claim that he is the real Santa, the case lands in court and his mental health is questioned.

The film won three Academy awards — Best actor in a supporting role, Best writing (original story), and for Best writing (screenplay). It stars Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart and Natalie Wood.

  1. Instant Family

A heartwarming comedy, Instant Family (2018) is one of the best Thanksgiving movies.  It features a childless couple, Pete and Ellie Wagner, who are now seriously considering adoption as an option. They enroll themselves in foster care and are all set to adopt Lizzy, a 15 year old teenager. However, she has two more siblings. Pete and Ellie, find themselves in a fix trying to foster three children, all of a sudden.

The movie is directed and co-written by Sean Anders based on his experiences. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Merced and Margo Martindale.

  1. Funny People

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George Simmons is a seasoned stand-up comedian and actor. Diagnosed with a terminal illness, he employs newbie comedian Ira Wright as his friend and assistant and embarks on a journey to develop him into a professional.

A laugh riot, this is the best Thanksgiving movie if you are looking for something on the lighter side. Adam Sandler essays the role of George Simmons. The movie also stars Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and Eric Bana. The Judd Apatow directed movie was distributed by Universal Pictures.

  1. Almost Christmas

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It is the Christmas season. Walter Meyers, an automobile engineer invites four of his children for the Thanksgiving dinner. This is the first time that the members of this dysfunctional family are coming together after the death of Grace, their mother. Walter knows that it is difficult to manage all four of them.

The movie stars Kimberly Elise, Danny Glover, John Michael Higgins, Romany Malco and Mo’Nique. It is directed by David E. Talbert.

  1. Friendsgiving

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The directorial debut of Nicol Paone, Friendsgiving, was released in 2020.

The movie centers on Molly, a movie star, and Abby, her best friend, as they prepare for a minimal Thanksgiving. With their close group of friends, it ends up being a dysfunctional, noisy, and humorous Thanksgiving dinner.

  1. Holidate

In Holidate, Sloane Benson is tired of being single. When she has a chance encounter with Jackson, an American golfer, they decide to be each other’s plus ones for the entire year, but they soon develop actual affection for one another.

The rom-com, directed by John Whitesell, was released in 2020 and stars Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Jake Manley, Jessica Capshaw and Andrew Bachelor.

Also check out, Best Asian Restaurants in NYC.

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