Thanksgiving Movies: The 44 Top Best Movies in 2022 (Updated)

Thanksgiving Movies
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Thanksgiving movies have all the heart, even if Christmas movies get all the publicity. People returning to their hometowns for Thanksgiving break envision family togetherness, playing sports with friends, and food. Basically, the fundamental ingredients of a Thanksgiving movie are just so comfortable and homely. So, when you are done with the turkey meal and Thanksgiving desserts, it’s only natural to unbutton your jeans, saunter over to the couch, and curl up with a decent movie. (You can go to the huge multiplex when you’ve digested.)

After the plates have been cleared and you’re too exhausted to do anything else, these are the best movies to watch on Thanksgiving. Some are suitable for all members of the family, from the tiniest gobblers to the most venerable great-grandmothers. Others should be saved until after the youngsters have gone to bed. The majority of them feature Thanksgiving as a backdrop, while others have lengthier timelines but still contain memorable Thanksgiving scenes. Some aren’t explicitly about Turkey Day but operate on a conceptual level with food and family imagery. And because everyone knows that once the last bite of pie is gone, the holiday season really begins, we’ve included several Thanksgiving-to-Christmas movies as well.

In other words, include these, as well as food and football, in your family’s traditions.

Without any further delays, let’s dive in.

Thanksgiving Movies

Here are some epic Thanksgiving movies to give you the thrills on movie night.

#1. Mistress America (2015)

Greta Gerwig plays Brooke, the freewheeling soon-to-be stepsister of Lola Kirke’s Tracy, a freshman at Barnard, in this profoundly amusing comedy from Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Tracy makes a fast friend—and the material for a story—as she adjusts to life in New York, and all kinds of mischief and drama occur. We won’t say much more about it since we don’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that it is one of the several movies that ends with a deliciously New York-style Thanksgiving feast.

#2. Krisha (2015)

Krisha Fairchild plays Krisha, a recovering addict who invites her estranged extended family home for Thanksgiving dinner in Trey Edward Shults’ blistering feature-length directorial debut. While the day starts out peacefully enough, tempers flare, sentiments are wounded, and it becomes evident that Krisha isn’t quite as rehabilitated as she claims.

#3. The Blind Side (2009)

The Blind Side, a 2009 film starring Sandra Bullock, is one you’ll want to watch with your entire family. One of the most touching and frankly bawl-worthy moments of the film, which centers on the adoption of a young man named Michael and his subsequent rise to football stardom, 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.

#4. Funny People (2009)

Don’t be fooled: Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler feature in Judd Apatow’s flick, which is more of a tearjerker than a laugh-out-loud comedy. The story revolves around a comedian who discovers he has late-stage cancer and is running out of time. But it’s the friendship between the two characters that propel Funny People forward, and there’s a particularly moving scene at a Thanksgiving dinner in which Sandler’s George broaches the subject of growing old and being alone that will make you want to hug all your friends and thank them for being so important to you.

#5. Mall Cop (Paul Blart) (2009)

The Segway-riding mall officer may not be the most cerebral lead, but this Kevin James film has developed a cult following in the years since its premiere, thanks in part to a late-blooming meme campaign. Paul Blart: Mall Officer is a few minutes of dumb entertainment that revolves around a busy mall being held hostage on Black Friday, possibly the worst day of the year for a mall cop.

#6. Still Walking (2008)

A family gathers to remember the 12-year anniversary of a devastating death in Hirokazu Kore-emotional eda’s film, which he wrote, directed, and edited. Still, Still Walking, which takes place over the course of roughly a day, has a strong Thanksgiving-weekend vibe to it: grandparents interact with grandkids, food is lovingly made, and ancient tensions are gradually exposed.

#7. Dan in Real Life (2007)

In the opening scenes of Dan in Real Life, widower and single dad Dan Burns (played by Steve Carell) pays a visit to his family for Thanksgiving. Dan has a crush on a woman who turns out to be his brother’s girlfriend in this heartwarming drama.

#8. For Your Consideration (2006)

Much of the conversation and plot of the mockumentary, For Your Consideration is improvised by the cast, as it is in any Christopher Guest production. When a terrible film is made, no one notices; but, when word spreads that it will be an Oscar winner, everything is turned up to 11 and the cast and crew become embroiled in a slew of misadventures. In terms of how all of this connects to Thanksgiving, the film-within-a-film was originally titled Home for Purim before being renamed Home for Thanksgiving.

#9. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Even though the majority of Brokeback Mountain takes place outside on the plains, one of the most crucial scenes occurs over Thanksgiving, when Ennis’ ex-wife confronts him about his connection with Jack.

#10. Pieces of April (2003)

After her mother is diagnosed with cancer, April (Katie Holmes) prepares a Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family, and Pieces of April checks all the boxes for a pleasant Thanksgiving watch—especially since Patricia Clarkson was nominated for an Oscar for her depiction of the ailing mother. There’s also a plot for everyone here: April’s frantic preparations and near-misses with disaster when her oven fails her; her boyfriend Bobby’s attempts to make a good impression on her parents; and the family’s own attempts to reconcile their thoughts about the past while making the trip to Manhattan.

#11. What’s Cooking? (2000)

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be all about turkey and mashed potatoes. As What’s Cooking? shows the diversity of Vietnamese, Jewish, Latino, and African American families’ festivities.

#12. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

While you don’t need an excuse to watch the classic 1998 romantic comedy, you now have one: On Thanksgiving, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s legendary moment in which Joe Fox saves the day in a Zabar’s cash-only wait truly takes place. You’ve Got Mail is known for its holiday theme, but it’s also known for the story of two business rivals who fall in love inadvertently over the first version of the internet.

#13. The House of Yes (1997)

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, Parker Posey is a revelation as a Jackie O–obsessed twin.

#14. The Ice Storm (1997)

The only film on the list that could ring a bell because it’s about Thanksgiving: The Ice Storm, set in 1973 and centered on two suburban families attempting to celebrate Thanksgiving, depicts the extremes of suburban dysfunction through sexual identity, drink, drugs, and the human condition. The Ice Storm, based on a best-selling Rick Moody novel and directed by the famous Ang Lee, stars a stellar cast and features one of the most unforgettable and mind-blowing moments in recent memory, including Elijah Wood and electrocution.

#15. Home for the Holidays (1995)

Home for the Holidays, based on a short story by Chris Radant, stars Holly Hunter (as Claudia, a recently fired art restorer who flies home to Baltimore for Thanksgiving), Robert Downey Jr. (as Tommy, Claudia’s younger brother), Dylan McDermott (as Leo, Tommy’s friend), Anne Bancroft (as Adele, her mother), Charles Durning (as Henry, her father), and Geraldine Chaplin (as Aunt Glady)

#16. Addams Family Values (1993)

The sequel to The Addams Family contains an outstanding narrative in which Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams recreates the Thanksgiving story at her summer camp in a magnificent way. While the play itself burns (literally), the all-star ensemble of Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and Joan Cusack in Addams Family Values will have you giggling on the couch as the turkey digests.

#17. Scent of a Woman (1992)

A prep-school teenager (Chris O’Donnell) undertakes to look for a blind, alcoholic retired Army Ranger (played by Al Pacino in an Academy Award-winning performance) over Thanksgiving weekend in order to pay for his flight home for Christmas. The latter takes the former on a whirlwind, glitzy tour of New York City, complete with a pretty dramatic detour to an estranged family member’s Thanksgiving dinner. When watching Scent of a Woman, keep Kleenex on hand.

#18. Babette’s Feast (1987)

Babette’s Feast, based on Isak Dinesen’s short story, isn’t precisely a Thanksgiving movie (it takes place in 19th-century Denmark), but it is about generosity and community and revolves around a beautiful meal. Prepare to be completely delighted, both you and your family.

#19. The Last Waltz (1978)

In possibly the most iconic concert video ever, Martin Scorsese memorably caught The Band’s final performance at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving Day 1976. In The Last Waltz, look for music icons like the Staple Singers and Bob Dylan, as well as Rick Danko of the Band, who takes the time to wish the audience a merry holiday.

#20. Rocky (1976)

The 1976 boxing picture features one of Sylvester Stallone’s best performances, but if you set the heavyweight championship plot aside for a moment, there’s a fantastic Thanksgiving scene in which a turkey is thrown out the back door—an occurrence that leads to a date for the film’s hero.

#21. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

Another film that, on the surface, has nothing to do with Thanksgiving but feels curiously appropriate for the occasion. Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy (in his penultimate film appearance), and Katharine Houghton (Hepburn’s real-life niece) star in the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which tells the story of an interracial couple battling for their parents’ favor. In our opinion, conflict plus a climactic feast equals the ideal Thanksgiving menu.

#22. The Oath

This narrative may seem a little too obvious based on the chats you’ve had with some family this year. Ike Barinholtz and Tiffany Haddish star as a pair who must deal with the “oath,” a new government initiative that requires everyone to make an oath of fealty to the president of the United States before Black Friday.

#23. Chicken Run

Okay, so if it was called Turkey Run, it would be more true to the Thanksgiving canon. However, for obvious reasons, this feature picture debut from the legendary Aardman animation studio is a Thanksgiving hit. The stop-motion animation, which follows a group of birds who are determined to avoid being converted into chicken pies, is both humorous and artistically stunning.

#24. The Big Chill

The Big Chill is a darker take on the traditional picture of a reunion, but it maintains a right blend of uplifting friendship and gravity for the Christmas season. The film follows a group of old college buddies as they reconvene following the suicide of one of their close friends.

#25. Alice’s Restaurant

Guthrie plays himself on a journey to his friend’s house for Thanksgiving after getting tossed out of college in this comedy based on Arlo Guthrie’s folk song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” After enrolling in college to avoid the draft, the events of the night come full circle in an ironic way.

#26. She’s Gotta Have It

Spike Lee’s landmark film She’s Gotta Have It, which follows a woman’s love triangle between three rival boyfriends, isn’t usually included in the benign holiday canon. Few films have included a more memorable Thanksgiving dinner than Nola Darling’s, in which she invites all three men to the table to enjoy the holiday while she sits at the head.

#27. A Family Thanksgiving

You haven’t truly experienced the holiday season unless you’ve seen at least one made-for-TV film. This one is about Claudia, an aspirant lawyer who finds herself in an alternate universe where she is a soccer mom. Fay Dunaway, her sort-of guardian angel, is responsible for all of this. The plot of this film might be the subject of a whole gender studies thesis, but the tension begins when Claudia is forced by her sister to prepare a pie for Thanksgiving. As a result, you could say it’s a pie movie (enter Betty Friedan once again).

#28. August: Osage County

This one isn’t about Thanksgiving at all, but it is about a family that is imploding, so it seems appropriate. This film is based on Tracey Letts’ play, which was made into a film in 2014. It follows a family as they mourn the passing of their dad while also dealing with their ill, depressive, and abusive grandmother. There’s nothing more to say about Meryl Streep’s violent altercation with Julia Roberts.

#29. Sweet November

Charlize Theron is a famous actress. Keanu Reeves is a well-known actor. A film from the year 2001. Sara, played by Charlize Theron, meets Nelson (Keanu Reeves) at the DMV, where they form a lasting friendship. Sara invites Nelson to spend November with her and vows to make a positive difference in his life. So these two spend a month together, but there’s more to the story than Nelson realizes.

#30. National Lampoon’s Holiday Reunion

Although Christmas Vacation is in a class by itself, the entire National Lampoon franchise is always a hit with families during the holidays. Bryan Cranston plays the quirky hippy and long-lost cousin of a suburban man Mitch Snyder in this remake of Malcolm in the Middle. Embarrassing family hijinks ensue.

#31. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

In John Hughes’ 1987 comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Steve Martin’s marketing executive just wants to get home to New York for Thanksgiving, but fate–well, fate and John Candy’s shower-ring salesman, a chipper and clumsy clown who becomes his unlikely traveling companion during this rollicking three-day odyssey–constantly thwarts his plans. The pillow joke is still one of the most well-known.

#32. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

This Peanuts holiday special is a wonderful holdout between Halloween and Christmas, albeit it’s not as iconic as A Charlie Brown Christmas or It’s the Great Pumpkin. Peppermint Patty infiltrates Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving vacation, which he inevitably scrambles to put together with his characteristic nervousness in this Emmy-winning classic. (By the way, where are these kids’ parents?)

#33. Tadpole

Oscar Grubman (Aaron Stanford) is clever beyond his years, and he’s undoubtedly appealing to his boarding school’s other 15-year-olds. But he isn’t interested in females his age, preferring to focus on his stepmother, Eve (Sigourney Weaver); who is blissfully unaware of his feelings for her. Oscar, on the other hand, devises a plot to seduce Eve’s closest friend over Thanksgiving break in order to make his stepmother jealous.

#34. Free Birds

This animated comedy stars Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, and George Takei. Reggie is a turkey who was fortunate enough to be pardoned by the President of the United States on Thanksgiving. Jake, on the other hand, is a political wild turkey who kidnaps Jake in order to promote the Turkey Freedom Front, a guerilla organization dedicated to putting an end to Thanksgiving for good. They use a time machine to travel back to the first Thanksgiving and eliminate turkeys off the menu for good.

#35. Son in Law

Pauly Shore, believe it or not, was once a movie star. Shore was every parent’s worst nightmare as the quintessential ’90s slacker dimwit—never more so than in the fish-out-of-water comedy, which stars Shore as Crawl, the unexpected partner of small-town girl Becca (Carla Gugino). Becca drags Crawl back home for Thanksgiving, much to her conservative farmer father’s chagrin. When Crawl announces his intention to propose to Becca during the holiday weekend, tensions only grow.

#36. The Daytrippers

Hope Davis plays Eliza, a New York lady who is happily married to Louis (Stanely Tucci)—or so she thinks—in Greg Mottola’s low-budget indie comedy. Eliza discovers a love letter from Louis to an unknown woman while visiting her parents for Thanksgiving. When she confides in her family, the entire family piles into the family station wagon and drives from Long Island to Manhattan, looking for answers.

#37. Nobody’s Fool

Nobody’s Fool is one of Paul Newman’s final great leading roles, in which he plays a construction worker hustler in upstate New York who is always at odds with a contractor (Bruce Willis) whose wife (Melanie Griffith) he lusts after. The arrival of his estranged son (Dylan Walsh) around Thanksgiving throws his routine into disarray; resulting in a hilarious (and disarming) holiday-set character study on loneliness, reconciliation, and the surprising ways people find happiness.

#38. Dutch

In this 1991 comedy, Ed O’Neill gives an underappreciated big-screen performance in a road trip home for Thanksgiving by two argumentative guys, similar to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. They’re O’Neill’s obnoxious slob and Ethan Embry’s snobbish prep-school kid–the son of O’Neill’s fiancée (JoBeth Williams)–who form a lasting friendship through a series of misadventures.

#39. Hannah and Her Sisters

Woody Allen’s 1986 comedic drama, which won him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor and Actress statuettes for Michael Caine and Diane Wiest, respectively, opens and closes with scenes of its characters at Thanksgiving dinner, tells a slew of interconnected stories, all of which are in some way related to Mia Farrow’s Hannah and her two siblings. It’s one of the writer-crowning director’s achievements, equal parts amusing and heartbreaking.

#39. The Turkey Bowl (2018)

There are a number of other non-food Thanksgiving traditions, such as getting together with old high school friends before the big meal and, of course, football. This is one of the movies that blends the two in a story about a man who is summoned to his hometown for Thanksgiving in order to re-enact a football game between fierce rivals that was canceled 15 years ago due to snow.

#40. Anne of Green Gables: Fire and Dew (2018)

On Thanksgiving, we can always count on Anne Shirley. On Turkey Day, PBS used to screen a new Anne of Green Gables film, eternally linking her to the holiday. In this film, Anne attends a city high school and becomes disoriented.

#41. Lez Bomb (2018)

Lauren travels to her birthplace of New Jersey for Thanksgiving with her girlfriend, with the goal of coming out to her conservative parents. Lauren’s family believes Austin, her male roommate, is her boyfriend, which causes confusion (and amusement).

#42. Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow (2015)

Nothing says holiday cheer like a Jim Henson puppet show! And, since Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas isn’t available yet, settle with this story about kids who investigate a local monster legend while visiting relatives.

#43. The Blind Side (2009)

It’s difficult not to cry as you witness Michael Oher, a homeless 17-year-old, have a Thanksgiving meal with the Tuohys for the first time. This is the point at which he realizes how welcome he is (and makes us realize just how thankful we are for our own family and friends).

#44. Curly Sue (1991)

Try not to fall in love with this John Hughes film’s charming heroine, who helps a homeless man swindle people for food and shelter. It’s just crisp enough to avoid being too sweet (though it can get cutesy).

Conclusion

With a list of Thanksgiving movies in place, my guess is you’re at least 40% set for the holiday. All that’s left is a location, choice of food, and costume.

Meanwhile, you can also go through our post on open restaurants on Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving Movies FAQs

Why are there no Thanksgiving movies?

On the contrary, there are tons of Thanksgiving movies out there to pick from. You may just have been, like the popular saying goes, barking on the wrong tree. Some of the best Thanksgiving movies out there include; Krisha, the Mall Cop, Home for the Holidays, and so on

Does Disney have any Thanksgiving movies?

Yes, Disney has a couple of Thanksgiving movies on their Disney Plus list; some of which include Ice Princess, Annie, Invincible, and so on. All it takes, however, is a subscription.

Is Paul Blart Mall Cop a Thanksgiving movie?

Paul Blart Mall Cop is listed as one of the many Thanksgiving movies out there which has the least amount of material tying it to the day at all. What I am trying to say is that it is just a holiday movie and not necessarily a Thanksgiving movie.

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