Best Thanksgiving Movies - Featured Image - StudioBinder

Every family has their own Thanksgiving traditions. Some play football in the backyard after filling up on turkey while others go straight from the dinner table to those Black Friday deals. But if you’re like us, you like to let the tryptophan settle in while you’re cuddled up watching one of the best Thanksgiving movies of all time.

Much like when it comes to songs, Thanksgiving kind of gets the short end of the stick when it comes to themed movies. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a film that puts you in the Thanksgiving spirit. You’ll be grateful once you read through this list of Thanksgiving Day movies, in no particular order, for when you’ve run out of things to talk about with your family.

Best Christmas Movies

30. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

“It's silly, but I believe.”

​These days, the Christmas season pretty much starts on November 1st, so you can certainly get away with watching a Christmas movie on Thanksgiving Day. Miracle on 34th Street opens on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, so it technically qualifies as a Thanksgiving and Christmas film.

It’s a classic for a reason, and if you plan on going out to do Christmas shopping at midnight, it’s a good reminder of what the true reason for the season is. And that reason is to buy a lot of stuff.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

  • Trivia: The film ranked #9 on the American Film Institute’s Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.
  • Tomatometer: 96%
  • Watch Now

Amazing Thanksgiving Day Movies

29. The Last Waltz (1978)

​“We wanted it to be more than just a concert. We wanted it to be a celebration.”

For something a bit left-of-center, try The Last Waltz. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this documentary details the last concert put on by The Band, which took place on Thanksgiving Day.

To this day, it still stands as one of the best rock documentaries of all time, and while the kids may have time off school, they can still learn something important about American music history. 

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

THE LAST WALTZ

  • Trivia: Martin Scorsese made the film entirely for free. 
  • Tomatometer: 98%
  • Watch Now

The Best Thanksgiving Movies

28. What’s Cooking? (2000)

​“Do you cook much?”

​It may fall into melodrama more often than you would like, but What’s Cooking? may be just as tense as you want to get after your Thanksgiving meal.

It follows four different storylines where you see how different cultures celebrate the holiday. For those with families in Los Angeles, it may hit particularly close to home.

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WHAT’S COOKING?

  • Trivia: Directed by Gurinder Chadha, who would go on to write, direct, and produce Blinded by the Light.
  • Tomatometer: 52%
  • Watch Now

Horror Thanksgiving Movies

27. Kristy (2014)

“I want you to stay with me.”

Another Thanksgiving horror film for when you visit your demented relatives. Kristy follows a college student who’s staying on campus for Thanksgiving break and becomes the target of a band of outcasts.

It makes for a somewhat formulaic but effective slasher film that calls to mind It Follows.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

KRISTY

  • Trivia: Ended up on Netflix after Dimension Films cancelled its theatrical release date. 
  • Tomatometer: N/A
  • Watch Now

Thanksgiving Movies List

26. Pieces of April (2003)

“I’m the first pancake.”

A dysfunctional family comes together to urban New York for Pieces of April. The titular character invites her family from the suburbs to join her for Thanksgiving in her apartment.

With humor and charm, Pieces of April manages to transcend other family dramas by coming to a sweet, wholesome conclusion.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

PIECES OF APRIL

  • Trivia: Patricia Clarkson earned an Oscar nomination for her role as April’s mother. 
  • Tomatometer: 84%
  • Watch Now

Thanksgiving Comedy Movies

25. Funny People (2009)

“I like the movie where you have a baby's body.”

Funny People contains one of the most interesting Thanksgiving scenes on this list. Instead of coming together with a family, our characters join a collection of actors and writers having a meal as friends.

It highlights just how powerful it is to find people who understand you and are willing to bring you into their lives.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

FUNNY PEOPLE

  • Trivia: Adam Sandler turned down the role of Donny in Inglourious Basterds to appear in Funny People
  • Tomatometer: 69%
  • Watch Now

Top Thanksgiving Movies of the 1990s

24. The Ice Storm (1997)

“A person's body is his temple.”

The adults swap partners while the kids get involved in drug-related mayhem in The Ice Storm. The film pulls the curtain back on idyllic-seeming suburbia to showcase a dark underbelly lurking.

Complete with political ruminations on the 70s, The Ice Storm is an entertaining yarn directed by Ang Lee.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

THE ICE STORM

  • Trivia: Gene Siskel chose this as his best film of 1997. 
  • Tomatometer: 85%
  • Watch Now

Good Thanksgiving Movies for Children

23. Pocahontas (1995)

“Pocahontas, that tree is talking to me.”

When you want something better suited for kids than The New World, log onto your Disney+ account and watch Pocahontas. It’s a charming animated film that can remind everyone of the importance of remembering indigenous people’s heritage.

The songs are catchy, and it’s the perfect soothing remedy for when you’re trying to work down that Thanksgiving feast.

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POCAHONTAS

  • Trivia: The film was released on June 23rd, 1995, which was the 400th anniversary of the real Pocahontas’ birth. 
  • Tomatometer: 55%
  • Watch Now

Best Thanksgiving Movies With Heart

22. Dan in Real Life (2007)

“You are a murderer of love!”

There’s just something about the Thanksgiving season that inspires dysfunctional family comedy-dramas. A man falls in love with his brother’s girlfriend after his own wife passes away, and it leads to all the insanity you would expect out of that premise.

It may be sentimental, but the performances from Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche help elevate it to warm-hearted holiday fare.

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DAN IN REAL LIFE

  • Trivia: Improvisation was encouraged on the set with some of the ad-libbed lines making it into the final cut. 
  • Tomatometer: 64%
  • Watch Now

Great Thanksgiving Day Movies

21. The Blind Side (2009)

“I'd like to become a legal guardian.”

The Blind Side tells the real-life story of football star Michael Oher. Family plays an important theme throughout the film, but in particular, the Thanksgiving scene is a heartwarming one.

The scene is a crucial one in the film as it's when Michael begins to open up to his new family and how he’s positively influencing all of them.

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THE BLIND SIDE

  • Trivia: The film is Netflix’s most rented DVD of all time. 
  • Tomatometer: 66%
  • Watch Now

30 Classic Thanksgiving Movies

20. Rocky (1976)

“You stop this fight, I'll kill ya!”

Rocky is an all-American classic. One of the most famous scenes from the film involves Paulie tossing out his sister’s Thanksgiving turkey. It’s also a critical meeting of Rocky and Adrian, setting the stage for their dynamic for the rest of the series.

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ROCKY

  • Trivia: Rocky was the highest-grossing film of 1976. 
  • Tomatometer: 94%
  • Watch Now

List of the Best Thanksgiving Movies

19. The Vicious Kind (2009)

“It's Thanksgiving, you dumb sh*t. What are you doing?”

The Vicious Kind may be considered a comedy, but there’s plenty of darkness in there as well to give it some weight. The film follows two brothers in love with the same woman and how that conflict collides with the family’s Thanksgiving celebration. It’s an uncomfortable film, but the performances here from normally comedic actors is fantastic.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

THE VICIOUS KIND

  • Trivia: The Vicious Kind was nominated for two Independent Spirit awards. 
  • Tomatometer: 70%
  • Watch Now

Sweet Movies to Watch on Thanksgiving

18. Grumpy Old Men (1993)

“I've laid more pipe in this town than Wabasha Plumbing.”

If you want to watch two old men get into zany hijinks for 104 minutes, then Grumpy Old Men is the movie for you. It stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as two men vying for the affection of a lovely woman.

It can be a bit one-note, but the antics are amusing if you’re in the right mood. And the best part is that a climactic moment comes on Thanksgiving Day when the men see something they wish they hadn’t.

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GRUMPY OLD MEN

  • Trivia: Walter Matthau had to be hospitalized due to double pneumonia due to filming in the freezing cold temperatures of Minnesota. 
  • Tomatometer: 63%
  • Watch Now

Best Thanksgiving Day Movies

17. She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

“If you weren't fine, I wouldn't even bother with you.”

Spike Lee’s feature-length directorial debut showcases a woman’s adventurous sexual lifestyle. She refuses to be tied down to any one man, and it all comes to a head around the Thanksgiving table.

For coming out in the 80s, the film has some incredibly progressive ideas around sex as it relates to women and how monogamy can be used to bring women down.

It might be awkward to watch with your parents, but make sure to watch it if you want to get caught up with Spike Lee’s filmography.

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SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT

  • Trivia: During filming, Spike Lee asked the crew to hand in their soda cans so he could get recycling money. 
  • Tomatometer: 91%
  • Watch Now

Good Movies to Watch on Thanksgiving

16. August: Osage County (2013)

“And then you’re gone.”

August: Osage County doesn’t take place at all during Thanksgiving. Instead, it focuses on a family imploding as they’ve lost their patriarch. It features a powerhouse performance from Meryl Streep (but which one of her films doesn’t).

If nothing else, it will make you feel better about your interactions with your own family.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

  • Trivia: The production crew had to paint the leaves outside the house green.
  • Tomatometer: 65%
  • Watch Now

Best Thanksgiving Movies of All Time

15. The Big Chill (1983)

“The last time I spoke with Alex, we had a fight. I yelled at him.”

The Big Chill follows a group of college chums as they reminisce about a recently deceased friend. One memory involves the group gathered for a Thanksgiving feast.

The film deals with themes like insecurity and regret. It’s also a good reminder that every Thanksgiving might be someone’s last, so you better make sure to let those close to you know how you feel.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

THE BIG CHILL

  • Trivia: There’s a rumor that one of the sound technicians recorded a ghost during principal photography. Everyone ran to the truck to hear it. 
  • Tomatometer: 68%
  • Watch Now

Great Thanksgiving Movies for the Kids

14. Chicken Run (2000)

“Pushy Americans, always showing up late for every war.”

Yes, we’re aware there’s an actual animated turkey movie called Free Birds, but for our money, Chicken Run is the best animated bird movie to watch on Thanksgiving. It sees a group of chickens trying to escape their fates as dinners when a cocky rooster shows up at the barn.

The stop motion imagery is beautiful as ever from Aardman Animations. Maybe just pretend they’re turkeys for the time being.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

CHICKEN RUN

  • Trivia: There were a total of 563 costumed and feathered puppets made for the movie. 
  • Tomatometer: 97%
  • Watch Now

Best Comedy Thanksgiving Movies

13. The House of Yes (1997)

“People raise cattle. Children just happen.”

A woman believing she is Jackie Kennedy Onassis goes on a murder spree after she discovers her twin brother is engaged. The House of Yes is a wacky dark comedy that may not suit every palate, but when you need a cleanser from all of the overly saccharine films on Lifetime, this film hits the spot.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

THE HOUSE OF YES

  • Trivia: The film is based on the Edgar Allen Poe story “The Fall of the House of Usher.” 
  • Tomatometer: 62%
  • Watch Now

Good Thanksgiving Movies for the Family

12. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

One of the most important scenes in Brokeback Mountain occurs on Thanksgiving when Ennis’s ex-wife talks to him about Jack. On the whole, Brokeback Mountain is a film about forbidden love and the quest for acceptance.

It’s a love story for the ages, and while it doesn’t have that happy ending you may want during the holidays, it’s essential viewing.

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BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

  • Trivia: Brokeback Mountain has been cited as one of Daniel Day-Lewis’ favorite films.
  • Tomatometer: 87%
  • Watch Now

Best Thanksgiving Movies Ever

11. The New World (2005)

“Why does the Earth have colors?”

​When you have a family of film buffs, you may feel like playing Terrence Malick’s The New World. It brings an unconventional narrative to the story of Pocahontas and John Smith.

Like most of Malick’s films, the focus tends to be on gorgeous imagery rather than a straightforward narrative, so get ready for family members asking you, “What’s happening now?” 

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THE NEW WORLD

  • Trivia: Both Christian Bale and Irene Bedard, who had roles in Disney’s Pocahontas, have parts in this film.
  • Tomatometer: 62%
  • Watch Now

New Thanksgiving Movies to Watch

10. Krisha (2016)

“I had to leave to be a better human.”

Krisha tells the story of a woman who had to leave her family for 10 years to recover from her addiction. She comes back for a family reunion around Thanksgiving and has to earn back their trust.

It’s not your typical feel-good holiday movie, but it’s an important film for what it has to say about family and forgiveness.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

KRISHA

  • Trivia: The entire film was shot at director Trey Edward Shults’ mother’s house. 
  • Tomatometer: 95%
  • Watch Now

Movies to Watch on Thanksgiving

9. Scent of a Woman (1992)

“The day we stop lookin', Charlie, is the day we die.”

A college student who needs to make money over Thanksgiving break agrees to watch after a blind man. It’s a sweet tale of an unlikely friendship. You’ll want to make sure you have a box of tissues ready because it’ll definitely make your mom cry.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

SCENT OF A WOMAN

  • Trivia: The film earned Al Pacino his very first Oscar win.
  • Tomatometer: 88%
  • Watch Now

Best Movies to Watch on Thanksgiving

8. Krampus (2015)

“How come rich people get all the free sh*t?”

Krampus is one of the best Christmas-themed horror films ever made. However, the opening scene takes place on Black Friday, so you can definitely watch it early to get your kicks.

It follows the ancient monster known as Krampus who has come to instill terror in a dysfunctional family. No matter what issues you have with your family, at least you’re not bad enough to warrant a visit from the anti-Santa.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

KRAMPUS

  • Trivia: “The noodle incident” referred to in the film is a reference to a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. 
  • Tomatometer: 67%
  • Watch Now

New Thanksgiving Movies

7. The Oath (2018)

“Let’s try to avoid that conversation for the next three days, okay?”

Having heated political arguments around the Thanksgiving table is as much of a tradition as pumpkin pie. The Oath takes this simple premise into delightfully absurd directions as a family has to contend with a new Tax Oath set to go into effect the day after Thanksgiving. You want to make sure your family is on the same page politically before playing this satirical film.

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THE OATH

  • Trivia: The oath in the film is based on several other loyalty oaths used by the government throughout the history of the United States. 
  • Tomatometer: 63%
  • Watch Now

Top Thanksgiving Movies

6. Prisoners (2013)

“ray for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

After the kids fall asleep, you can safely turn on Prisoners. It’s one of the best films of the last decade, and while it’s not exactly family-friendly, it does center around Thanksgiving, so it counts for this list.

Keller’s daughter goes missing on Thanksgiving Day, which leads to a manhunt to find her before it’s too late. It’s tense, thoughtful, and includes all of the trademarks you expect out of Denis Villeneuve.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

PRISONERS

  • Trivia: A long list of A-listers were once attached to the project, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, and Jessica Chastain. 
  • Tomatometer: 80%
  • Watch Now

Comedy Thanksgiving Movies

5. For Your Consideration (2006)

“In every actor there lives a tiger, a pig, an ass, and a nightingale.”

Christopher Guest is king of the mockumentary, and For Your Consideration stands among the greats. It follows the cast and crew of an Oscar bait movie that gets renamed from Home for Purim to Home for Thanksgiving. It’s a must-watch for any die-hard film enthusiast as the satire directed toward Hollywood and actors is top-notch.

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FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

  • Trivia: Like most of his films, Guest did not have a detailed script. Most of the dialogue was achieved through improv. 
  • Tomatometer: 52%
  • Watch Now

Thanksgiving Day Movies

4. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

“Happy Thanksgiving... it's your turn to say Happy Thanksgiving back.”

The technology references may be dated, but You’ve Got Mail is still a sweet rom-com that features a classic New York Thanksgiving moment. Joe goes into Zabar’s and ends up helping out Kathleen.

Thanksgiving may consist of a fleeting moment in the film, but the themes of finding connection in an increasingly isolating world is just the thing you need to warm the spirits during the holidays.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

YOU’VE GOT MAIL

  • Trivia: Since the film’s release, there have been petitions to protect local bookstores in New York. 
  • Tomatometer: 69%
  • Watch Now

Great Thanksgiving Movies

3. Spider-Man (2002)

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

“Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” is one of the most prominent questions of our age. However, the real question should be, “Is Spider-Man a Thanksgiving movie?” We have to say, “Yes.”

The classic superhero film has plenty of great moments that still stand out to this day, but the Thanksgiving scene is tough to beat. It’s a pivotal scene in the movie where Norman Osborn discovers Peter Parker is Spider-Man, and if you want a lesson in how to build suspense, watch this scene.

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SPIDER-MAN

  • Trivia: Hugh Jackman revealed that Wolverine was at one point supposed to have a cameo in the film, but the idea was scrapped. 
  • Tomatometer: 90%
  • Watch Now

Best Thanksgiving Movies

2. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987)

“You wanna hurt me?”

Neal is just trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving, but when he picks up a shower-ring salesman, played by John Candy, hilarity ensues. The two go through one gag after the other, and it all leads to the sweetest of endings, showing the importance of reaching out to those who may not have a family this time of year.

And of course, there’s plenty of classic bits to make this a welcome addition to your family’s television screen. Just make sure the kids are in the next room before the f-word tirade starts.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

PLANES, TRAINS, & AUTOMOBILES

  • Trivia: This film is on Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
  • Tomatometer: 93%
  • Watch Now

Good Thanksgiving Movies

1. Addams Family Values (1993)

“They have said, ‘Do not trust the Pilgrims. Especially Sarah Miller.’”

The Addams Family should never be limited to only Halloween. Addams Family Values shows the creepy, kooky family trying to save Uncle Fester from a gold-digger who wants to kill him after she inherits his fortune. It also features a fantastic Thanksgiving reenactment where Wednesday lays into the true origin of the holiday, genocide and all.

WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR...

ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES

  • Trivia: It took two weeks for the team to film the Thanksgiving play sequence.
  • Tomatometer: 76%
  • Watch Now

Up Next

Best Underrated Horror Films

You have your playlist for next Thanksgiving all set. But do you know what to watch next October once Halloween comes back around. Check out our list of some underrated horror gems that will terrify you as you pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. 

Up Next: 30 Best Underrated Horror Films →
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