40 of the Best Movies to Watch While Curled up in Your Comfiest Pants (or PJs!) This Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, reflect and binge ... and no, we’re not just talking about food.
Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, reflect and binge ... and no, we’re not just talking about food. Once you’ve finished feasting on your delicious turkey and that inevitable food coma begins to set in, it's time to make your way over to the couch with your nearest and dearest.
Need help figuring out what to watch? Give thanks, as Parade has rounded up the best Thanksgiving movies that are perfect for celebrating family as well as kicking off the start of the holiday season—plus, other films that will remind you of the important things in life, especially after the past challenging year and a half.
So, if football isn't your thing on Turkey Day, feast your eyes instead on one of these popular, classic, feel-good flicks to binge this Thanksgiving!
Related: 60 Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes of All Time
40 Best Thanksgiving Movies
1. It's a Wonderful Life
How can you even begin to celebrate the holidays without this 1946 classic that drives home the message of being grateful for the life you have? The movie centers around George Bailey (James Stewart), who is contemplating ending his life, but thankfully his guardian angel Clarence rescues him and shows him what life would have been like had he not existed.
Related: Thanksgiving Movies for Kids
2. When Harry Met Sally...
When Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) stroll through New York City's Central Park in this beloved 1989 rom-com, it'll give you all the autumn feels. (The movie also deals with the pros and cons of being single over the holiday season, culminating in its famous New Year's Eve scene.) Written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally asks the question: "Can men and women ever just be friends?"
3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Did you even celebrate a holiday if you didn’t watch the appropriate Peanuts special? Well, on the fourth Thursday of every November, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving should be on your watch list. The animated short film features Charlie putting together a Thanksgiving dinner after Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to his house. As Marcie tells the gang, “Thanksgiving is more than eating. We should just be thankful for being together."
Related: Every Friends Thanksgiving Episode, Ranked
4. Turkey Drop
Olivia Holt plays Lucy Jacobs in Freeform’s first Thanksgiving movie. Lucy is a small-town girl who just started her freshman year of college in a big city. When she returns home for Thanksgiving, she suspects she is going to get turkey dropped a.k.a dumped by her high school sweetheart during the first extended break of the school year (we've been there). According to the network, “To avoid a Turkey Day travesty, Lucy gets out of her comfort zone, proving she’s not the same play-it-safe girl she was with her high school boyfriend. As she takes control of her own life and makes choices that put herself first, she learns to let go of what’s been holding her back, helping achieve what she truly wants out of life.”
5. The Blind Side
Based on a true story, The Blind Side stars Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a mom who took in homeless Black teen Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron). The film (which won Bullock an Oscar) showed how while it might seem like the Tuohys were changing "Big Mike"’s life, he was actually changing theirs. Plus, can we talk about that sweet Thanksgiving scene? Big Mike serves himself a plate and sits at the dining room table alone while the rest of the family is watching football. Leigh Anne shuts off the television and makes her husband and kids sit at the table and say grace.
Related: The Top High School Football Movies
6. Miracle on 34th street
By the end of Thanksgiving Day, you’ve probably already seen Santa in the Macy’s Day Parade. Well, you can watch him again in this classic Christmas flick about Kris Kringle, who steps in for an intoxicated man to play Santa in the Coles parade and is then hired as the department store Santa. Children believe he is the real Santa, and Kris says he is, prompting some to question his mental state. In court, lawyer Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDermott) has to prove Kris is the real thing.
Related: Stores Open on Thanksgiving This Year
7. You’ve Got Mail
We’ll take a Nora Ephron rom-com any day of the year! In this one, Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) fall in love online without ever meeting in person... or so they think; what they don't realize is that they're actually real-life business rivals who don't care for one another at all. One particular scene of the movie features the pair at a local New York grocery store, Zabar’s, having an exchange at the cash register on Thanksgiving.
Related: 61 Classic Thanksgiving Recipes, From Savory to Sweet & Everything in Between
8. Pieces of April
Katie Holmes portrays rebellious April in this dramedy about the very bendable (but never breakable) bonds of family. After learning that her mother, played by Patricia Clarkson, has breast cancer, April invites her estranged, dysfunctional family over for Thanksgiving dinner at her New York City apartment. With a broken stove, April turns to her neighbor (Sean Hayes) for help.
9. Holiday in the Wild
With her son off to college, Kate Conrad (Kristin Davis) books a “second honeymoon” for her and her husband, but he has other plans…to end their marriage. So, Kate embarks on her trip to Africa alone, where she meets a pilot named Derek Holliston (Rob Lowe) and helps him rescue a baby elephant. Kate decides to extend her trip through Christmastime. “Far from the modern luxuries of home, Kate thrives amidst majestic animals and scenery,” Netflix notes. “Her love for the new surroundings just might extend to the man who shared her journey.”
Related: How to Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2022
10. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Holiday travels don’t always go according to plan; just look at Neal Page (Steve Martin). Neal wanted to spend Thanksgiving at home with his family, but his flight ends up being rerouted because of a snowstorm. Neal struggles to journey home with an obnoxious salesman (John Candy), taking various modes of transportation. Been there, done that!
11. Christmas with the Kranks
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) daughter Blair, who joined the Peace Corps, departs for Peru. With Blair set to be away from home for a year, Luther hatches a plan to save money by skipping Christmas and going on a Caribbean cruise instead. The Kranks' decision to boycott the holiday isn’t well-received by their neighbors. Luther and Nora’s plans go awry when they receive some last-minute news. With help from their neighbors, they learn "the true meaning of community."
Related: Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey, Including Brine, Rub & Air Fryer Recipes
12. Sweet November
Sara Deever (Charlize Theron) and Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves) are strangers who meet at the DMV. As the movie's trailer points out, “Nelson has one concern, himself. Sara only needs one month to change that.” Sara says she has a gift and can help him if he lives with her for a month starting the first of November. “You live in a box. I could lift the lid,” she tells him. The sweet month of November changes Nelson's life.
13. Jingle All the Way
Parents can relate to this one... some perhaps more than others. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Howard Langston, a father and husband, who has been neglectful as of late. Come Christmas Eve, Howard is desperate to get his hands on the year's hottest toy, Turbo Man, since he forgot to get one for his son beforehand. And he's not the only one. Mailman Myron (Sinbad) is also on the hunt for a Turbo Man doll. The pair hilariously face off as they scour their city looking for the toy. Ultimately, the day helps Howard realize what his priorities should be.
14. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) might have an I.Q. that's lower than most, but he lived an extraordinary life: spending time with Elvis, playing college football, meeting President John F. Kennedy, fighting in Vietnam and starting Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The feel-good film teaches numerous lessons, one of which is totally Thanksgiving-appropriate: giving back. As Forrest himself says, "There's only so much fortune a man really needs and the rest is just for showing off."
Related: Forrest Gump Quotes
15. The Pursuit of Happyness
Inspired by a true story, The Pursuit of Happyness features single father Chris Gardner (Will Smith), who wants to create a better life for himself and his son (Jaden Smith). The father-son pair find themselves evicted from their apartment, and end up living in shelters as they overcome obstacles. Through it all, Chris refuses to give up.
16. Addams Family Values
This 1993 comedy is the sequel to The Addams Family. Morticia and Gomez Addams welcome a baby boy, Pubert, but their children Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) aren't exactly thrilled with their new sibling's arrival and plan to get rid of him. The Addams hire a nanny, but she has an evil plot. While this might not seem like your typical holiday movie, there is a Thanksgiving play at Wednesday and Pugsley's camp. Wednesday goes off-script, and the production, literally, goes up in flames.
17. Scent of a Woman
Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell) is a student in need of money so he can go home for Christmas. He ends up taking a weekend job to look after Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino), who is blind, over Thanksgiving. It's supposedly going to be easy money, but it turns out to be nothing like what Charlie expected when the pair fly to New York.
18. Mrs. Doubtfire
Gather the kiddos for this family film that proves a father's love knows no bounds. After his divorce, Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) wants to spend more time with his children. He comes up with a plan to dress up as an older British woman named Mrs. Doubtfire and is hired by his ex-wife Miranda (Sally Field) as a nanny.
19. The Ice Storm
Family dysfunction and marital strife are on the Thanksgiving menu in upper-middle-class Connecticut circa 1973. Set over the long holiday weekend, director Ang Lee's critically lauded 1997 drama (based on Rick Moody's novel) stars Kevin Kline and Joan Allen as an unhappily married couple who try to weather the storm (literally and figuratively) as their bonds are tested thanks to a neighborhood "key party." Meanwhile, their teenage kids (including Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci and Elijah Wood) seem just as lost and confused.
Related: When Was the First Thanksgiving?
20. The House of Yes
Marty Pascal (Josh Hamilton) brings his fiancé Lesly (Tori Spelling) home to meet his family on Thanksgiving. His twin sister, Jacqueline (Parker Posey), who was recently released from a psychiatric hospital and believes she is Jackie Kennedy, is less than thrilled about the news.
21. Home for the Holidays
After losing her job and learning that her daughter is spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend, Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) goes home for the holidays to see her dysfunctional family. The movie, directed by Jodie Foster, is comprised of an all-star cast: Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Dylan McDermott, Geraldine Chaplin, Steve Guttenberg, Cynthia Stevenson, Claire Danes, Austin Pendleton and David Strathairn.
22. Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Forget going to the mall after Thanksgiving dinner to score early Black Friday deals; instead, put on Mall Cop! Actor and comedian Kevin James plays the titular character in this comedy that's perfect for the whole family. Paul is a dedicated security guard at a mall that gets taken over by a gang of criminals disguised as Santa's little helpers on the night of Black Friday.
23. The Secret: Dare to Dream
In need of some hope this holiday season? Look no further than The Secret: Dare to Dream. Katie Holmes plays a widowed single mom of three, Miranda Wells, in the uplifting movie, which was inspired by Rhonda Byrne’s popular book, The Secret. “I feel like what I enjoyed about making this film is that it reaffirmed my beliefs in the power of being optimistic, thinking positively, dreaming,” Holmes previously told Parade. "I wanted to be a part of a project that brought hope to people."
24. Little Women
The March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, were brought back to life in Greta Gerwig's 2019 adaptation of the classic coming-of-age novel, Little Women. The star-studded cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern and Timothée Chalamet. The film is sure to not only appeal to women, but men too. "I’m thrilled for anyone to go to the film, but I just love the idea of fathers wanting to experience that with their daughters," Gerwig told Parade in 2019. "So I think for me at the forefront of my mind is art should be open to be so many things, but being able to represent something that feels like it’s going to make the world better is a privilege."
25. National Treasure
For those looking for something, perhaps more adventurous, National Treasure should do the trick. Sure, the movie has nothing to do with the holiday season, but why not celebrate the American holiday with Benjamin Gates, played by Nicolas Cage, as he steals the Declaration of Independence in order to avoid it falling into the wrong hands, while in pursuit of a hidden treasure? It's an epic adventure you don't want to miss!
Related: 60 Thanksgiving Trivia Questions and Answers
26. Dan in Real Life
The Office's Steve Carell plays a widower named Dan in the 2007 rom-com. Dan falls for a woman he met at a bookstore, who turns out to be his brother's new girlfriend. Although Dan in Real Life is not necessarily a holiday movie, the family gathering, autumn setting and football will likely have you thinking about Thanksgiving and perhaps even inspire your family to put on a talent show at home!
Elf is one sure way to spread holiday cheer and laughs. The heartwarming Christmas classic tells the tale of Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human raised by elves, who leaves the North Pole in pursuit of his biological father in New York City.
28. Knives Out
You think your family is dysfunctional? Meet the Thrombeys in this Rian Johnson-directed murder mystery. The film features an ensemble cast including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson and Toni Collette.
Besides family and turkey, few things scream Thanksgiving quite like football. The inspiring 1993 movie is based on Notre Dame football player Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger's story. Who doesn't love a good underdog tale?
Related: Varsity Blues Turns 20! Quotes from the Classic Football Movie
30. Downton Abbey
Have relatives visiting for the holidays? Well, the Crawleys know a thing or two about hosting guests. The cast of the historical drama returned for the 2019 feature film to welcome the King and Queen to Downton Abbey.
31. Love Actually
Love is all around in Richard Curtis' star-studded holiday flick that sees the stories of different characters intertwine. Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are among the cult-fave movie's stars.
32. The Big Chill
The Big Chill centers around a group of college pals who reunite after the death of one of their mutual friends. Put on The Temptations “Ain't Too Proud to Beg” and dance around the kitchen like the stars of the Oscar-nominated film (William Hurt and Glenn Close and Kevin Kline, oh my!).
33. Chicken Run
Thanksgiving might be Turkey Day, but that doesn't mean you can't watch a movie about a different type of poultry. Chicken Run is a family movie about chickens trying to escape from Tweedy's Farm with help from an American rooster.
Related: Fun Facts About Thanksgiving
34. Home Alone
Home Alone is another Christmas classic perfect for getting you into the holiday spirit this time of year. Starring Schitt's Creek's Catherine O'Hara, Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, John Candy and Daniel Stern, the 1990 movie is a great reminder to appreciate your family, that and, well, make sure everyone is accounted for before leaving the house.
Related: Where Is the Cast of Home Alone Now?
Who else can relate to being single during the holidays? Well, strangers Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) found a solution, agreeing to be each other's "holidates."
Vince Papale's story hit the big screen in Disney's Invincible. Mark Wahlberg portrayed the bartender and Eagles fan, who never played college ball but went on to make the Philadelphia Eagles team after open tryouts. An inspirational movie, plus football? Sounds like a recipe for a perfect post-Thanksgiving feast.
37. Four Christmases
Attending multiple holiday celebrations in one day? Such was the case for Brad and Kate in the comedy Four Christmases. After their trip to Fiji gets delayed due to weather conditions, Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn's characters spend their Christmas visiting their four divorced parents.
38. Free Birds
Eh, you might feel guilty watching this animated comedy after dinner! Reggie, voiced by Owen Wilson, is a lucky turkey who got pardoned by the president. He is living the life until he gets recruited for a mission to go "back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get Turkeys off the menu."
39. The Holiday
Planning to Airbnb somewhere new this holiday season? Amanda and Iris took it one step further in Nancy Meyers' The Holiday. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet's characters, both unlucky in love, decided to swap their "houses, cars, everything" in Los Angeles and England and wound up finding romance along the way.
Those celebrating Thanksgiving with friends might enjoy this R-rated comedy that sees best friends Molly (Malin Åkerman) and Abby (Kat Dennings) host a "dysfunctional, comical and chaotic" Friendsgiving.
In need of more movies to binge this holiday season? Check out the 100 best movies of all time.