Whether you go home for Thanksgiving or camp out with your circle of friends, you’ll probably spend at least a couple of hours flipping through the channels or scrolling through Netflix, looking for the perfect movie to get you into the holiday spirit. While the brilliance of classics like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Miracle on 34th Street, and Planes, Trains & Automobiles should never be understated, it can often feel like you’re stuck in a vortex of movies you’ve seen before.
But fear not! We’ve gone through the vast selections of movies available to watch on the web and on your TV and created a list of films that you’ve most likely forgotten were set on, around, or at the very least around the idea of Thanksgiving. So as you settle in for the long weekend of eating and drinking, take a look at these forgotten films below.
You’ve Got Mail
While you never really need an excuse to watch the classic 1998 romantic comedy, this time you’ll have an explicit reason to make all your friends watch it with you: The classic scene between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in which Joe Fox comes to the rescue in a Zabar’s cash-only line actually takes place on Thanksgiving. Come for the holiday theme in You’ve Got Mail, stay for the story of two business rivals who are unknowingly in love via the earliest version of the web.
The Last Waltz
Martin Scorsese famously captured the Band’s farewell performance at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving 1976 in perhaps the most iconic concert film ever. Keep an eye out for music legends like the Staple Singers and Bob Dylan in The Last Waltz, and don’t miss the Band’s Rick Danko taking the time to wish the crowd a happy holiday.
Pieces of April
Set around a Thanksgiving dinner that April (Katie Holmes) sets up for her estranged family after her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Pieces of April ticks all the boxes for a good Thanksgiving watch—especially since Patricia Clarkson was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of the ailing mother. There’s also a plotline here for everyone: April’s frantic prep and brushes with disaster as her oven fails her; her boyfriend Bobby’s attempts to make a good impression on her parents; and the family themselves, who must make the trip to Manhattan while trying to reconcile their feelings about the past.
Addams Family Values
The sequel to The Addams Family features an incredible plotline in which Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams stages a spectacular reproduction of the story of Thanksgiving at her summer camp. While the play itself goes down in flames (literally!), the all-star cast of Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and Joan Cusack in Addams Family Values will have you grinning on your couch as the turkey digests.
The Ice Storm
This is the only movie on the list that may ring a bell for being about Thanksgiving: Centered on two suburban families who are attempting to celebrate Thanksgiving in 1973, The Ice Storm demonstrates the extremes of suburban dysfunction through sexual identity, alcohol, drugs, and the human condition. Based on a best-selling Rick Moody novel and directed by the legendary Ang Lee, The Ice Storm has a tremendous cast and contains one of the most memorable and mind-blowing scenes of the past several decades, involving Elijah Wood and electrocution.
Don’t be fooled—Judd Apatow’s film starring Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler is definitely more of a tearjerker than a laugh-out-loud comedy. The film is centered on a comedian who learns he has late-stage cancer and doesn’t have much time left to live. But the friendship between the two characters in Funny People is what carries the movie through, and there’s an exceptional scene at a Thanksgiving dinner in which Sandler’s George broaches the subject of getting old and being alone that will make you want to hug all your friends and thank them for being so incredibly important to you.
Scent of a Woman
To pay for his flight home for Christmas, a prep-school boy (Chris O’Donnell) agrees to take care of a blind, alcoholic retired Army Ranger (who happens to be played by Al Pacino, in a role that won him an Academy Award) over Thanksgiving weekend. The latter takes the former on a whirlwind, glamorous tour of New York City that also includes a rather climactic detour to the Thanksgiving table of an estranged family member. Keep tissues handy when you’re watching Scent of a Woman.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
The Segway-riding mall cop may not be the most intelligent lead, but in the years since this Kevin James movie was released, it has gained a cult following, in part due to a late-blooming meme campaign. Paul Blart: Mall Cop is minutes worth of mindless entertainment, centered around a busy mall taken hostage on what’s arguably the worst day of the year for a mall cop: Black Friday.
Though Brokeback Mountain takes place for the most part outside on the plains, one of the most pivotal scenes in the film takes place during Thanksgiving, when Ennis’s ex-wife finally confronts him about his relationship with Jack.
The Blind Side
Sandra Bullock’s 2009 film The Blind Side is definitely one you’ll want to sit down and watch with your whole family. Centered on the adoption of a young man called Michael and his subsequent rise to football stardom, one of the most touching and frankly bawl-worthy moments of the film is when a sad, lonely Michael finally starts to feel like part of a family on Thanksgiving; we finally start to see him open up and feel like there’s hope for his future.
Yes, that Rocky. The 1976 boxing film is unquestionably one of Sylvester Stallone’s best performances, but if you put the whole heavyweight-championship plot to the side for a second, there’s an incredible Thanksgiving scene in which a turkey is chucked out the back door—an event that actually leads to a date for the hero of the film.
For Your Consideration
As with any Christopher Guest film, much of the dialogue and plot of the mockumentary For Your Consideration is improvised by the cast. When a mediocre film is being produced, nobody thinks much of it; but when a rumor kicks off that it’s going to be an Oscar winner, things get turned up to 11, and the cast and crew find themselves caught up in hijinks galore. As for how this all relates to Thanksgiving: The film-within-a-film was originally titled Home for Purim but was subsequently changed to Home for Thanksgiving.
The House of Yes
Parker Posey is a revelation as a Jackie O–obsessed twin in the black comedy The House of Yes, which takes place on Thanksgiving Day 1983 and revolves around college student Marty Pascal bringing his fiancée (played by Tori Spelling) home to meet his parents.
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be all about turkey and mashed potatoes, as What’s Cooking? proves by showcasing the diverse celebrations of Vietnamese, Jewish, Latino, and African American families.
Dan in Real Life
In Dan in Real Life, widower and single dad Dan Burns (played by Steve Carell) visits his family for Thanksgiving in the opening scenes. This touching dramedy follows Dan’s crush on a woman who turns out to be his brother’s girlfriend. Talk about Thanksgiving drama!
Originally Appeared on Vogue