What Are the Best Thanksgiving Movies?

No Turkeys, Just Good Films

While many classic Christmas movies get their first airings on television on Thanksgiving and there are plenty of football games to watch, movie fans shouldn't forget that there are few Thanksgiving-themed film gems that are worth watching on the big feast day. So after getting your fill of turkey, stuffing, or whatever it is you feast on come Thanksgiving, why not settle in with one of these Thanksgiving-themed films? Here are five of the all-time best.

Honorable Mention: Thanksgiving (2007)

Grindhouse
Dimension Films

The 2007 double-feature movie Grindhouse not only featured two films -- one by Robert Rodriguez and another by Quentin Tarantino -- but also included several "fake" movie trailers for movies that really should exist. One of them was Thanksgiving, a 1970s style slasher film in the style of Halloween created by horror filmmaker Eli Roth.

Though only a few minutes long, the faux trailer had audiences hoping for more. Though Roth has hinted Thanksgiving will one day become a feature, nothing has happened yet.

Home for the Holidays (1995)

Home for the Holidays
Paramount Pictures

While the film's title might normally imply Christmas to you, Home for the Holidays is set during Thanksgiving.

If you think you've got family issues, then Home for the Holidays is exactly the sort of movie you should be able to relate to. Jodie Foster directs Holly Hunter in this biting comedy, which also stars Dylan McDermott, Robert Downey Jr., and Anne Bancroft. Gay marriage, sex with a much older boss, a teen daughter who may be losing her virginity over Thanksgiving, and a bizarre aunt who's in love with her sister's husband - Home for the Holidays has a little something for everyone.

Pieces of April (2003)

Pieces of April
United Artists

Katie Holmes transitions from teen characters to a young woman on her own in Pieces of April, the directorial debut of Peter Hedges. April  (Holmes) wants to create the perfect Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged mother (Patricia Clarkson) and the rest of her family. But with an oven that doesn't work and a boyfriend (Derek Luke) who's jumped by thugs, April's perfect day seems to be turning out to be everything she hoped it wouldn't become.

Clarkson was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the film, and the cast also includes Oliver Platt, Alison Pill, Sean Hayes, and even early 2000s R&B singer Sisqó (yes, of the "Thong Song" fame).

The Ice Storm (1997)

The Ice Storm
The Ice Storm. 20th Century Fox

Simply an amazing film from director Ang Lee (arguably his second best work to date behind ), The Ice Storm is based on the 1994 novel by Rick Moody and is the tragic tale of middle class couples dealing with relationship problems and sexual infidelities. The film has a stacked cast, including Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, and Allison Janney.

Definitely not for viewing when you're looking for lighter fare, The Ice Storm is a deeply moving, insightful look at small-town America in the 1970s.

The Myth of Fingerprints (1997)

The Myth of Fingerprints
Sony Pictures Classics

Bart Freundlich directs Julianne Moore, Michael Vartan, Noah Wyle, Hope Davis, Blythe Danner, and Roy Scheider in this 1997 family drama. The Myth of Fingerprints follows four siblings who return to their parents' home for Thanksgiving weekend, knowing the time spent in each other's company is going to be brutally harsh. Though it was mostly overlooked during its initial release, it's well overdue for a rediscovery.

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Paramount Pictures

This 1987 comedy written and directed by the wonderful John Hughes is the ultimate Thanksgiving movie. Planes, Trains and Automobiles stars Steve Martin and John Candy and is one of those movies that should be checked out at least once a year. Neal (Martin) just wants to make it home in time to spend Thanksgiving with his family. With weather and the transportation system conspiring to keep him from reaching his loved ones, Neal finds himself stuck with a hyper-talkative shower curtain ring salesman (Candy) in his travels across the Midwest to get home.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of those rare films which is both hilarious and heartwarming. Aside from one memorable scene in which Neal throws the f-word around like it's the only word in his vocabulary, it's enjoyable for all ages.

Edited by Christopher McKittrick

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Murray, Rebecca. "What Are the Best Thanksgiving Movies?" ThoughtCo, Oct. 4, 2016, thoughtco.com/top-thanksgiving-movies-2432051. Murray, Rebecca. (2016, October 4). What Are the Best Thanksgiving Movies? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/top-thanksgiving-movies-2432051 Murray, Rebecca. "What Are the Best Thanksgiving Movies?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/top-thanksgiving-movies-2432051 (accessed November 20, 2017).