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40 Best Thanksgiving Movies After the Big Meal


Christmas movies may get all the attention, but Thanksgiving movies have all the heart. The main elements of a Thanksgiving movie — people returning to their hometowns for Thanksgiving break, family togetherness, playing sports with your friends, and food, food, food — are just so cozy and homey. So when you’re done with your turkey dinner and your Thanksgiving desserts, it just makes sense to unbutton those pants, shift over to the couch and hunker down with a good film. (The big multiplex trip can wait until after you’ve digested.)

These are the best movies to watch on Thanksgiving, after the plates have been cleared and you’re too tired to do anything else. Some are good for everyone in the family, from the smallest gobblers to the greatest great-grandmas. Others are better to save for when the kids are tucked into bed. Most of them use the Thanksgiving holiday as a backdrop, others span longer timelines but have very memorable Thanksgiving scenes. And some aren’t specifically about Turkey Day, but work thematically, with motifs of food and family. And everyone knows that, once the last bite of pie is gone, it’s the start of the holiday season, so we have some Thanksgiving-t0-Christmas moves in there, too. Build these into your family traditions, along with food and football.

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Little Women (2019)

Little Women is not expressly a Thanksgiving movie, though so much of it takes place around the holidays and in the run-up to Christmas, and there are plenty of around-the-table scenes to give you that cozy feel — and make you feel thankful for your family.

The Turkey Bowl (2018)

There are a couple Thanksgiving traditions that aren’t about eating, namely gathering with old high school buddies before the big feast, and, of course, football. This movie combines the two in a film about a guy who’s called to his hometown for Thanksgiving to re-do a football game with bitter rivals that was snowed out 15 years earlier.

The Oath (2018)

This movie isn’t your typical, feel-good fare. In it, in a not-too-distant future, the government decides everybody must take a loyalty pledge on Black Friday, which opens a rift during one family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Will they survive the weekend?

Anne of Green Gables: Fire and Dew (2018)

We can always count on Anne Shirley on Thanksgiving. PBS used to air a new Anne of Green Gables movie on Turkey Day, making her forever associated with the holiday. In this movie, Anne goes to school in the city and finds herself feeling lost.

RELATED: The Best Thanksgiving Movies on Netflix

Lez Bomb (2018)

Lauren heads to her New Jersey hometown for Thanksgiving, bringing her girlfriend along with the intention of coming out to her conservative parents. When Lauren’s male roommate, Austin, tags along, her family thinks he’s her boyfriend — and confusion (aka hilarity) ensues.

Krisha (2016)

This film follows a woman who on Thanksgiving returns to the family she abandoned — which makes for a tense holiday, to say the least. The film won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the 2015 South-by-Southwest Film Festival.

Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow (2015)

Nothing says the holidays like a Jim Henson puppet spectacular! And since it’s too early for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, settle for this one about kids who go to investigate a local legend about monsters while visiting relatives. 

Free Birds (2013)

Voiced by Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler and George Takei, this animated comedy is the perfect family-friendly Turkey Day flick. The plot? Two time-traveling turkeys try to head back to the first feast to change the traditional Thanksgiving menu.

Tower Heist (2011)

You know when a great time to plan a robbery is? When everyone is looking elsewhere — like at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. When a group of luxury apartment workers lose their pensions in a Ponzi scheme, they vow revenge by planning to steal from their employer during the parade.

Turkey Bowl (2011)

This film shouldn’t be confused with the other Turkey Bowl movie, though it has a very similar premise: A group of college-aged friends reunite for their annual touch football game, the prize being a frozen turkey. Another bonus: This one is short — just over an hour — and if you don’t have a Peacock subscription, you can watch it on VUDU.


The Blind Side (2009)

It’s hard not to get choked up while watching Michael Oher — a homeless 17-year-old — have Thanksgiving dinner for the first time with the Tuohys. It’s this moment that makes him realize how welcome he really is (and makes us realize just how thankful we are for our own family and friends).

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

When a gang of thieves plans a heist at the mall on the night of Black Friday, only one person can take them down: a segway-riding mall cop! An unlikely hero, to be sure, but holidays are full of underdog stories.

Funny People (2009)

Though again, Funny People isn’t exactly about Thanksgiving, it does have a pivotal scene take place around the holiday table. And the movie, which is about a comedian who learns of a terminal illness, might be a reminder to be grateful.

Pieces of April (2003)

In this one, April invites her mother (who is dying of cancer) and the rest of her distant family over for Thanksgiving dinner. She ends up having problems in the kitchen, and reaches out to someone else in her apartment building for help. The new guest has to navigate the prickly family dynamics.

Tadpole (2002)

This movie is ostensibly a love triangle between a student named Oscar, the object of his affection, Eve, and Eve’s best friend, Diane. The problem? Oscar’s only 15 and Eve is his stepmother. Over Thanksgiving break, Oscar winds up in over his head when hatching a plan to seduce Diane to make Eve jealous.

Sweet November (2001)

November is an often overlooked time of year, but it takes center stage in this weepy romance, which takes place over the course of a month (including Thanksgiving). Keanu Reeves stars as a high-powered executive whose life is changed by a new relationship with a free-spirited pet groomer.

What’s Cooking? (2000)

This movie shifts between four different families and four different Thanksgiving meals. It really embodies that Tolstoy quote: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Though they may fall in love online, Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) are rivals in real life — on the supermarket line, especially. You’ve Got Mail‘s iconic Thanksgiving grocery store scene, in which Joe steps in for a cashless Kelly after she mistakenly rings up her items in a cash-only line, is one you just can’t miss.

The Ice Storm (1997)

Be thankful you’re not like the characters in this movie. Set in Thanksgiving 1973, Ang Lee’s film follows two New Canaan, Connecticut families whose lives are filled with adultery, alcoholism and suburban ennui. It’ll make you feel better about your own relatives.

House of Yes (1997)

If your family likes movies that are a little “out there,” this movie is about a guy named Marty (Josh Hamilton) who brings a girlfriend home on Thanksgiving to meet his not-all-there family. Parker Posey gives a darkly comedic performance as Marty’s twin sister, recently released from a psychiatric hospital, who’s obsessed with all things Jackie O.

The Daytrippers (1997)

Was 1997 the Year of the Thanksgiving Movie? This one follows a woman, played by Hope Davis, who discovers over the Thanksgiving holiday that her husband is having an affair. Her whole family — parents, sister, her sister’s live-in boyfriend — pile into a station wagon and drive from Long Island to New York City to confront him. It comes from Greg Mottola, who went on to direct Superbad.

Garfield’s Thanksgiving (1996)

If there’s one thing that Garfield knows how to do, it’s celebrate a holiday that’s all about food. Forget the turkey — where’s the lasagna?

Home for the Holidays (1995)

Claudia Larson’s Thanksgiving gets off to a bad start — she gets fired from her job, and her daughter has informed her she’ll be spending the holiday with her boyfriend instead. But by the end of the film, our intrepid protagonist gains a new outlook on things.

Nobody’s Fool (1994)

This movie opens on Thanksgiving in lonely upstate New York and follows Sully, a 60-something construction worker who decides it’s time to try and get his life together. It may not be the happiest holiday entertainment, but the film earned star Paul Newman a Best Actor Academy Award nomination, and the script is based on a novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo.

Grumpy Old Men (1993)

Combining two old neighbors (who haven’t gotten along ever since they were children) with a mutual love interest makes for one interesting storyline — and one funny Thanksgiving scene.

Addams Family Values (1993)

The Addams Family is so macabre, they’re usually associated with Halloween. But The Addams Family Values features a Thanksgiving pageant so unlike any others — starring Wednesday Addams — that all ’90s kids make this a yearly rewatch.

Son-in-Law (1993)

If you want to tell your kids what comedy was like in the ’90s, look no further than a Pauly Sore vehicle. In this one, Shore plays a college RA who visits one of his advisee’s family farm for Thanksgiving. 

Scent of a Woman (1992)

Featuring a tour-de-force performance by Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman takes place over Thanksgiving break, when a student (Chris O’Donnell) agrees to take care of a blind veteran (Pacino) for the week — and ends up learning more than what college can teach him. Pacino wound up earning an Oscar for this film.

Curly Sue (1991)

Try not to fall in love with the adorable heroine of this John Hughes film, who assists a homeless man in conning people for food and shelter. It’s just sharp enough not to be too saccharine (though it can get cutesy).

Avalon (1990)

For fans of Diner director Barry Levinson, this is another one of his “Baltimore” movies. It takes place in the ’40s and ’50s, an era of change, and nowhere is the shifting attitudes of the time more relevant than at one particularly momentous Thanksgiving dinner. 

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

If we had to choose the winner of best Thanksgiving movie of all time, this would be it. Watching the antics Steve Martin’s quirky, high-strung character must endure — just to make it home for Thanksgiving dinner with his family — will leave your sides aching.

She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

In this Spike Lee movie, Brooklyn artist Nola Darling is dating three men at once — and invites them all over for a memorable Thanksgiving dinner. Once you’ve finished the original film, you can move on to the Netflix TV series.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

The time between two Thanksgivings are apparently just enough days for an unusual love triangle to form. The protagonist Hannah’s husband falls in love with her sister, Lee. Meanwhile, Lee’s ex-husband sets out to date the third sister, Holly.

The Big Chill (1983)

This one leans heavily on the nostalgia factor, like most good holiday movies do. It’s about a group of college buddies who meet up again after the death of one of their friends, and includes a big Thanksgiving flashback scene, so it has that coming-home-for-the-holidays feel.

The Last Waltz (1978)

For fans of The Band, it doesn’t get better than this Martin Scorsese-directed concert film, which captures a farewell performance given on Thanksgiving Day in 1976. 

Rocky (1976)

Best saved for the adults in the family, this well-known Sylvester Stallone movie features an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner scene. After that, you can burn through all of sequels during the rest of the holiday break. 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

An absolute classic, this Charlie Brown special tackles the holiday in ways only the Peanuts gang can. All of the Peanuts specials have moved over to Apple TV+, so you’ll need a subscription to watch.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Sure, this festive flick, starring Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn, is most often associated with Christmas, but the film actually opens during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Since the Christmas season essentially starts the day after Thanksgiving, the movie really is totally on theme.

Holiday Inn

Though Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is the most famous song to come out of this movie, but the events in the film take place over the course of a year, and each holiday gets its own song. You’ll be singing “I’ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful For” long after the credits roll.

Babes in Toyland (1934)

Also known as March of the Wooden Soldiers, this classic film is aired as an annual Thanksgiving tradition in certain parts of the country. And if it’s not, consider making it a tradition in your house!

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