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You'll be thankful you tuned into these classics.
While movies about Thanksgiving Day may not be as bountiful and well-known as the countless Christmas movies to choose from or the infinite scary movies you can watch to get in the Halloween spirit, they're out there! Here are 15 wildly different and highly recommended movies about Thanksgiving for a variety of tastes that you can watch right now to get in the holiday spirit, or right after the big meal when you feel like you just want some time on the couch.
All of these Thanksgiving movies are available for rent or purchase on major streaming services like Amazon, VUDU and iTunes.
Thanksgiving Movies and Movies About Thanksgiving
1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
One of John Hughes's funniest and most satisfying works gave John Candy the best role of his tragically brief career as clumsy and long-winded shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith, who's much more than he appears. The secret to the perfection that is Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the fact that Candy and Steve Martin, two virtuoso comedic actors, were playing screen versions of themselves, offering endless opportunities for emotional truth.
In 2000, film critic Roger Ebert included Planes, Trains and Automobiles among his expansive "Great Films" list, saying it's the only movie his family watched as an annual custom. It's one of Ebert's great reviews (read here), offering insight into the real-life Candy, who wanted nothing more than to make everyone laugh. Check out Ebert's retrospective review, and you'll appreciate this holiday favorite even more.
2. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Arguably Woody Allen's finest work and one of the most perfect unions of comedy and drama ever, Hannah and Her Sisters tells intertwining stories of an extended family over two years, beginning and ending with Thanksgiving dinners. The film was nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture. Allen won for his original screenplay, and Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest won for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. It's a widely known bit of Hollywood trivia that Caine did not attend the ceremony because he was in the Bahamas filming the critical and commercial dud Jaws 4: The Revenge. That's the one where the shark can roar.
3. Krisha (2015)
Hollywood wunderkind Trey Edward Shults made his debut feature Krisha for $30,000 (for reference, that's about 1/10,000th of the production budget of Justice League) in his parents' home using his family as actors. Krisha tells the story of a troubled alcoholic who seeks to make amends with her family over Thanksgiving. Audaciously using many stylistic choices of horror cinema to heighten the drama, Krisha is a tiny movie that will knock you flat with its torrents of searing emotions. At its heart, this gut-punch of an indie powerhouse is about family--and isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?
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4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Though this black-and-white classic frequently tops lists of the greatest Christmas movies, it opens on Thanksgiving Day, when Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) is hired to replace an inebriated Santa in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This film won three Oscars and was nominated for Best Picture, and while the 1994 remake starring Richard Attenborough is no match for the original, it was perhaps a little bit better than anyone expected it to be.
5. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
Though it's not as iconic and quotable as 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Peanuts' Thanksgiving special is still a delight, full of good humor, charming animation and a characteristically wonderful Vince Guaraldi score. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has aired annually on network TV every year since 1973, first on CBS before moving to ABC in 2001 along with all of the other Peanuts specials. You can watch it now on Apple TV+ or rent from other streamers.
Related: When Was the First Thanksgiving?
6. Pieces of April (2003)
In this offbeat indie which derives its name from the 1972 hit song by Three Dog Night, Katie Holmes gives one of her best performances to date as quirky and rebellious April Burns, who invites her family to her low-rent Manhattan apartment for Thanksgiving dinner upon hearing her mother (Patricia Clarkson) is dying of breast cancer. Will & Grace's Sean Hayes also stars, and Clarkson received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
7. Home for the Holidays (1995)
A sweet and heartwarming if somewhat conventional story about family members fighting, making up and working through their differences is elevated by the keen eye of director Jodie Foster and a hugely talented cast including Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Robert Downey Jr. and Dylan McDermott.
8. The Ice Storm (1997)
Is there a more adventurous director out there than Ang Lee? From superhero epics (Hulk) to martial arts adventures (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) to period romantic comedies (Sense &Sensibility), Lee never does the same thing twice and always gives it everything he's got. This chilly, brilliantly acted Thanksgiving-set period drama is quite dark, unsettling even, and it's a near-perfect film you'll have a hard time getting out of your head. Sigourney Weaver won a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA for her performance, and the film also stars Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire and Elijah Wood.
9. Addams Family Values (1993)
This sequel to 1991's smash hit The Addams Family is perhaps best-known today for an extended sequence in which Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) goes off-book and turns a children's Thanksgiving play into an anarchic, fiery bloodbath. This scene probably wouldn't get a green light today for a variety of reasons. Watch the gleeful absurdity, also featuring Christine Baranski, below.
10. Rocky (1975)
Rocky became such a global, decades-spanning phenomenon that it's easy to forget just how sweet, intimate and heartfelt the first movie was if you haven't seen it in a while. Fortunately if you haven't, Rocky marathons are a staple of Thanksgiving TV scheduling. The first film is still the best by some margin (Rocky and Adrian's Thanksgiving date is one of the best parts), but 2015's touching Creed proved Rocky is far from down for the count. Made on a budget of just over $1 million, Rocky became the highest-grossing film of 1976, grossing $225 million. The film won three Oscars including Best Picture, and catapulted Stallone into superstardom.
11. You've Got Mail (1998)
One of the best scenes from Nora Ephron's follow-up to rom-com juggernaut Sleepless in Seattle is this uncomfortable supermarket check-out bit in which Tom Hanks bails Meg Ryan out of relatable public embarrassment on Thanksgiving. Maybe one day we'll get to see Hanks and Ryan on the big screen together again.
Related: The Best Thanksgiving Quotes
12. The House of Yes (1997)
This thoroughly offbeat black comedy from the director of Freaky Friday and Mean Girls is about a mentally unstable Virginia woman (Parker Posey) who believes she's Jackie Kennedy, and the hell she unleashes on her twin brother (Josh Hamilton) when he brings his fiancé (Tori Spelling) home for Thanksgiving day in 1983. This was a breakthrough for Posey, and she won a Special Jury prize at Sundance.
This well-liked ensemble dramedy about a group of close-knit baby boomers features an intense Thanksgiving dinner scene and stars Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, William Hurt, Kevin Kline and JoBeth Williams. Close was nominated for an Oscar, and The Big Chill also received noms for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. Director and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan currently has considerable creative control over the Star Wars franchise.
14. Scent of a Woman (1992)
Although you might assume he has a whole stack of them by now, Al Pacino won his only Academy Award for his portrayal of retired Army Ranger Lt. Col. Frank Slade, a blind and cantankerous alcoholic in the care of a prep student (Chris O'Donnell) over Thanksgiving. Scent of a Woman was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars.
15. The New World (2005)
Terrence Malick's haunting and lyrical epic starring Colin Farrell may not feature a Thanksgiving feast, but it's all about the birth of our nation, which makes it a perfect watch for the holiday in its own right. This is photographed by three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.
Do you agree with our list of Thanksgiving films? Did we leave anything out? What is your family's unique Thanksgiving tradition? Let us know in the comments!