20 of the best Thanksgiving movies of all time, ranked

Jessica Booth
·8 min read
Funny People
The movie "Funny People" had some positive reviews from critics. Universal Pictures
  • A number of movies are about Thanksgiving or take place during the holiday.

  • Critics like "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987) and "Scent of a Woman" (1992), which are both classic hits that take place during late November. 

  • "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (1973) has a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

If you're not ready to start watching festive winter films just yet, there are still plenty of Thanksgiving movies out there that have gotten some great reviews from critics.

Read on for 20 of the best Thanksgiving movies of all time, according to critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

"Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow" (2015) is about a magical Thanksgiving adventure.

Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow
"Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow" is a magical film. Lifetime

Critics' score: 60%

This 2015 film is about two kids who embark on a magical adventure while visiting their strange aunt's farm for Thanksgiving. The kids then spend their time tracking down a mythical creature called the Howling Hoodoo.

 

"The War at Home" (1996) is an unconventional but fairly applauded choice for Thanksgiving.

the war at home movie
Emilio Estevez in "The War at Home." Touchstone Pictures, Motion Picture Corporation of America

Critics' score: 60%

"The War At Home" follows Jeremy (Emilio Estevez), a soldier who recently returned home after serving in Vietnam.

He lives with his parents and is deeply troubled by everything he did and saw while at war. As Thanksgiving comes around, Jeremy struggles to readjust to civilian life. 

The movie has some famous faces, like Kathy Bates, Carla Gugino, and Martin Sheen. 

"The Myth of Fingerprints" (1997) is another family drama that many critics enjoyed.

The Myth of Fingerprints
Julianne Moore in "The Myth of Fingerprints." Sony Pictures Classics

Critics' score: 60%

The drama follows the adult children of a New England family as they return home for Thanksgiving weekend.

The holiday forces them to realize how dysfunctional their family is and they start to work through their issues. 

The comedy "The House of Yes" (1997) kept some critics laughing.

House of Yes
"House of Yes" is adapted from a play. Bandeira Entertainment

Critics' score:62%

An adaptation of Wendy MacLeod's play of the same name, "House of Yes" is about the affluent and dysfunctional Pascal family as they get ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

In the film, Marty Pascal (Josh Hamilton) brings his fiancée home to meet his family, including his twin sister (Parker Posey), who is convinced she is Jackie Kennedy. 

"The Oath" (2018) is one of the newer films on the list.

The Oath Thanksgiving dinner
"The Oath" is a satire film. Aperture Media Productions

Critics' score: 62%

Ike Barinholtz's indie satire film delves into a bit of politics. The movie is about high-strung news junkie Chris (Ike Barinholtz) and his wife as they learn that people are being asked to sign a loyalty oath to the president.

The Thanksgiving thriller-comedy is packed with political arguments, snappy jokes, and family tension. 

The unique film "Alice's Restaurant" (1969) earned a spot on the list.

Alice's restaurant
The movie is based on a song. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Critics' score: 63%

This film is actually based on a popular satirical Arlo Guthrie song, "Alice's Restaurant."

The movie follows Arlo (Guthrie), who visits his friend Alice for Thanksgiving dinner after he was kicked out of college. When dinner is over, Arlo ends up getting arrested for littering, which inadvertently exposes his hidden criminal past.

"Home for the Holidays" (1995) is packed with dysfunctional family drama.

Holly Hunter in "Home for the Holidays."
Holly Hunter in "Home for the Holidays." Paramount Pictures

Critics' score: 63%

Directed by Jodie Foster, this comedy/drama stars Holly Hunter as Claudia, a single mom whose daughter doesn't want to spend Thanksgiving with her.

Claudia reluctantly spends the holiday with her family at her childhood home and she's not very happy about it until she meets her brother's handsome friend, Leo Fish (Dylan McDermott). 

Judd Apatow's "Funny People" (2009) is a Thanksgiving favorite for some.

funny people
Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen in "Funny People." Universal

Critics' score: 69%

"Funny People" is a little more emotional and dramatic than Adam Sandler's usual comedies.

It's about George Simmons (Sandler), a famous stand-up comedian who discovers he has a terminal illness and less than a year to live.

He ends up hiring a struggling comedian, Ira (Seth Rogen), to be his personal assistant and opening act. The two become close friends as Ira helps George come to terms with what's happening to him.

But a lot of drama ensues when Simmons learns he has longer to live than he thought. 

The indie drama "The Vicious Kind" (2009) was enjoyed by some critics.

the vicious kind
Adam Scott in "The Vicious Kind." 72nd Street Productions

Critics' score:70%

Another film focused on family drama, "The Vicious Kind" is about relationships.

Cale (Adam Scott) gets dumped right before the holiday season and he ends up falling for his younger brother's new girlfriend, Emma (Brittany Snow), on Thanksgiving. 

"Hollidaysburg" (2014) is a coming-of-age film.

Holidaysburg
"Hollidaysburg" is a rom-com, too. Hello Please

Critics' score: 75%

This romantic comedy follows a group of high-school friends as they reunite during Thanksgiving weekend.

The friends slowly begin to realize how much they've changed and how much everything in the town they grew up in has remained exactly the same.

 

"Addams Family Values" (1993) is an unlikely, well-loved addition to the list.

addams family values
Christina Ricci in "Addams Family Values." Getty Images/Paramount

Critics' score: 77%

If you watched "The Addams Family" (1991) to prepare for Halloween, you may want to enjoy the sequel "Addams Family Values" to get ready for Thanksgiving. In this film, the Addams family is up to their usual antics.

Unhappy about having a new baby brother, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) try to get rid of him. 

Eventually, the nanny  Joan Cusack) intervenes, only to show she might be even more outrageous than the Addams family.

"Tadpole" (2002) gives you a break from family-oriented films.

Tadpole
"Tadpole" is a comedy. Miramax

Critics' score: 78%

This comedy is all about 15-year-old Oscar (Aaron Stanford), who falls in love with his stepmother, Eve (Sigourney Weaver).

While home for the holiday, Oscar does everything he can to seduce Eve, but his actions eventually get the attention of her friend, Diane (Bebe Neuwirth). 

"Pieces of April" (2003) is a mix of comedy and drama.

Pieces of April
"Pieces of April" is set in New York. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Critics' score: 84%

This is a classic early 2000s film starring Katie Holmes as the rebellious April, who lives in New York and doesn't spend much time trying to keep in touch with her family.

When she finds out her mom has cancer, she invites her family to her apartment for Thanksgiving. 

"Avalon" (1990) is another Thanksgiving favorite.

Avalon
"Avalon" is an autobiographical film. TriStar Pictures

Critics' score: 85%

"Avalon" is an autobiographical film about a Polish-Jewish family that comes to live in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century.

The film tells the story of the family as they get settled in Baltimore, Maryland, establish their roots, and try to live the American dream.

"The Ice Storm" (1997) depicts a dysfunctional family on Thanksgiving.

The Ice Storm
Joan Allen and Tobey Maguire in "The Ice Storm." Fox Searchlight Pictures/Getty Images

Critics' score: 85%

If you're looking for something a little heavier, you might enjoy the drama "The Ice Storm."

Set in the 1970s, the film tells the story of a seemingly wholesome family who begins to fall apart over Thanksgiving break during an ice storm. 

"Scent of a Woman" (1992) is a coming-of-age film.

al pacino scent of a woman
Al Pacino plays a retired army officer in "Scent of a Woman." Universal

Critics' score: 89%

If you're more into coming-of-age films, you might like "Scent of a Woman," an award-winning drama starring Al Pacino.

The movie focuses on the relationship between Frank (Pacino), a blind, retired lieutenant in the US army who is difficult to get along with, and Charlie (Chris O'Donnell), a prep school student who takes the job as Frank's assistant for Thanksgiving. 

 

"Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) follows three sisters.

Hannah and Her Sisters
"Hannah and Her Sisters" was praised by critics. Orion Pictures

Critics' score: 91%

Starring Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, and Dianne Wiest, "Hannah and Her Sisters" follows the story of three sisters' Thanksgiving dinners and their confusing relationships.

"Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987) is another classic on the list.

planes trains automobiles movie
Steve Martin in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." Paramount Pictures

Critics' score: 91%

This John Hughes comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy is already a Thanksgiving classic for many.

Neal (Martin) ends up rerouted because of a snowstorm. As he struggles to find a way home for Thanksgiving, he gets stuck with overwhelmingly positive Del (Candy). 

"Krisha" (2015) has a near-perfect score.

Krisha
"Krisha" is an independent film. Hoody Boy Productions

Critics' score: 95%

"Krisha" is an award-winning independent film that tells the story of a woman who used to be addicted to drugs who decides she wants to spend Thanksgiving with her family after going years without seeing them. 

"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (1973) has a perfect score.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is famous for a reason. Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Critics' score: 100%

A true classic, this Peanuts cartoon gives many viewers a sense of nostalgia and it's no surprise that it's been scored so highly by critics.

The animated film includes plenty of iconic Peanuts moments, like Lucy trying to get Charlie Brown to kick a football.

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