10 Best Thanksgiving Movies

By: Laurie L. Dove & Suzie Dundas  | 
Steve Martin and John Candy
The hilarious Thankgiving romp "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," starring Steve Martin and John Candy, about two men trying to make it home for the holiday, was released in 1987. Paramount/Getty Images

It's not hard to come up with a long list of Halloween or Christmas movies, but finding the right film to watch after the Thanksgiving Day leftovers are in the fridge and the game is over can be a little more challenging. Some of our favorite Thanksgiving movies revolve around families gathering for the holiday, while others are more about the traditions and history that made the day a holiday in the first place.

From comedies to dramas to animated must-sees, we’ve got the 10 best Thanksgiving movies to watch with friends and family this November.


10. "Addams Family Values"

thanksgiving movies
Christina Ricci dangling meat in a scene from the film "Addams Family Values," from 1993. Paramount/Getty Images

If you're the type of movie watcher who prefers spooky October movies to feel-good Thanksgiving heartwarmers, why not split the difference and stream the star-studded "Addams Family Values"? The slightly dark, kooky comedy is the sequel to 1991's "Addams Family," but don't worry if you haven't seen the first one as the plot isn't too hard to follow: parents Morticia and Gomez Addams (exceptionally cast with Anjelica Houston and Raul Julia) must stop Christopher Lloyd's Uncle Fester from marrying a perceived gold-digger (Joan Cusack). But the highlight of the film is truly when Wednesday Addams, played by Christina Ricci, begrudgingly agrees to play Pocahontas in a summer camp Thanksgiving play. As you may expect, the play takes a dark turn, and Ricci gives a hilariously accurate spin on the real history of Thanksgiving to her fellow campers.

  • Stream it: Netflix
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: "Where are we? It looks familiar.... of course! The gates of Hell."


9. "Dutch"

Ed O'Neill, Bill Pullman
Bill Pullman, left, and Ed O'Neill talk in this scene from the film "Sibling Rivalry," 1990. O'Neill starred in the 1991 film "Dutch." Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images

Ed O'Neill (of ABC's "Modern Family" and "Married with Children") stars in this 1991 comedy about a meat-and-potatoes construction worker's attempt to stay firmly ensconced in his girlfriend's good graces by bringing her preppy son home from boarding school in time for the family's Thanksgiving dinner. Though critics panned the movie during its initial release — and it does rely on a few stereotypes that may not fly today — it's still full of heartwarming moments and seamlessly moves between classic '90s humor and touching moments that every blended family can relate to. This is also one of the best Thanksgiving movies if you're watching with your blended family: it's fairly tame for its PG-13 rating.

  • Stream it: Amazon
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: "Nothing burps better than bacon."


8. "Pieces of April"

Katie Holmes, Sundance Film Festival, 2004
Katie Holmes speaks at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival premiere of "Pieces Of April" in Park City, Utah. Fred Hayes/WireImage/Getty Images

Back from the days when Katie Holmes was more famous for starring in "Dawson's Creek" than marrying Tom Cruise, she took a leading turn in "Pieces of April," a 2004 comedic drama. Holmes plays April, who attempts to host her snarky, largely estranged family members for Thanksgiving dinner in her cramped New York City apartment, knowing it may be her mother's last. It's well-acted, and most of the main characters move flawlessly between deep emotional scenes and comedic banter.

Though the movie was considered low budget by Hollywood standards, it remains highly-rated, offering quirky moments and enough of an emotionally satisfying conclusion to secure it a place on any list of the best Thanksgiving movies.


  • Stream it: Amazon
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: "I'm the first pancake."

7. "The New World"

Colin Farrell, The New World
Colin Farrell stars as Captain John Smith in Terrence Malick's "The New World." Merie Wallace/WireImage for New Line Cinema/Getty Images

Pastoral landscapes, swelling instrumentals and gripping narratives make "The New World" a compelling retelling of the lessons from your elementary school American history classes. The movie tells the story of the founding of Jamestown and European expansion into the new world. At the core is a story of love, emotion and power, but don't let that sway your opinion if you're not into romance movies. There's plenty of action, too.

The dynamic between John Smith (Colin Farrell) and native princess Pocahontas (15-year-old Q'orianka Kilcher) leads a few of the film's best scenes as both are sent reeling by clashes between their cultures. In many ways, this movie is a coming-of-age story, not only for these pivotal characters, but for an emerging nation. Intense, beautifully shot and sometimes unflinchingly poignant, "The New World" is worth a watch.


  • Stream it: Amazon
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: In response to whether John Smith found the West Indies (or perhaps whether you saw the pumpkin pies on the counter) "I ... may have sailed past them."

6. "Pocahontas"

Pocahontas, Irene Bedard
Irene Bedard, the voice of Pocahontas in the Disney film of the same name, and chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter, take part in a Walt Disney Studios animation presentation. Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

"Pocahontas," a 1995 Disney animated film, offers a fictionalized look at Native American Pocahontas and Englishman John Smith, as English settlers meet Powhatan Indians in Jamestown. It also makes a nice follow-up to the realities of "The New World" or a nice alternative if you're watching with someone not quite ready for "The New World's" more violent scenes. The film is beautiful, with moments of magic, especially when Pocahontas visits Grandmother Willow, an advice-offering tree spirit. The movie is sure to bring back memories for teenagers who viewed it as toddlers, and it's perfect for helping a new generation of children while away a pleasant few hours, even if the story isn't exactly historically accurate.

  • Stream it: Disney Plus
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: Not a line, but a song: "Colors of the Wind" is irresistible


5. "Home for the Holidays"

Dylan McDermott, Home for the Holidays
Dylan McDermott, center, stars in "Home For the Holidays." Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma/Getty Images

With actors including Robert Downey Jr., Dylan McDermott and Holly Hunter, it's no surprise that "Home for the Holidays" is one of the most irresistible rom-coms from the 1990s — a decade in which there were plenty of rom-coms to choose from.

In the film, 40-something Claudia is dealing with quite a lot when Thanksgiving rolls around — she's a recently fired single mother whose teenage daughter decides to spend Thanksgiving without her. Claudia heads to her parents' home, where the next few days are filled with surprise revelations, hard decisions and, naturally, at least one fistfight. One of the film's best scenes is when the whole family is gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinner, and even if your family isn't dealing with complex, multi-generational issues, nearly everyone should be able to smile at one of Claudia's most poignant lines: "We don't have to like each other — we're family."


  • Stream it: Amazon
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: "Nobody means what they say on Thanksgiving, Mom. You know that. That's what the day's supposed to be all about, right? Torture."

4. "The Humans"

thanksgiving movies
Actors, from left, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer and Richard Jenkins, along with writer/director/producer Stephen Karam and moderator Dade Hayes speak onstage during A24's "The Humans" panel Dec. 4, 2021, in New York City. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Deadline

One of the most recent Thanksgiving movies is "The Humans," a highly relatable comedic drama released in 2021. Best described as a well-acted, slow burn, the movie joins one family as they gather with their youngest daughter and her partner for Thanksgiving in her run-down New York City apartment. Over the course of a few hours, each character's story begins to develop, allowing viewers to see an accurate portrayal of love, resentment and grief as the members struggle with everything from health issues to financial struggles.

Dark as it may sound, the film is peppered with authentically funny and touching moments, with frequent comedic actors like Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein and Richard Jenkins giving stand-out performances. While it may not provide the clean, happy ending of many of the best Thanksgiving films on this list, it's a good choice for viewers attracted to the emotionally deep, rather than big-budget Hollywood hits.


  • Stream it: Hulu
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: "Don't you think it should cost less to be alive?"

3. "The Blind Side"

Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, The Blind Side
Quinton Aaron, left, Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw attend "The Blind Side" premiere in New York City. Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images

Sandra Bullock's Oscar-winning performance in "The Blind Side" made it one of 2009's biggest box office successes. Bullock plays wealthy, no-nonsense Southern mom Leigh Anne Tuohy, who takes in foster teen Michael Oher — a homeless football prodigy (Quinton Aaron) who eventually becomes a first-round NFL draft pick.

Though the movie isn't without controversy, it's well-acted and highly entertaining, and it's hard not to smile at the early Thanksgiving scene in which Oher begins to feel welcomed by his new family. "The Blind Side" is based on actual events and easy to watch year after year — particularly for the way it proves families can be woven together in any number of ways.


  • Stream it: Peacock, HBO Max
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: Tuohy, on Oher potentially playing for the University of Tennessee, "But I will not wear that gaudy orange, I will not. It is not my color wheel and I'm not gonna wear it."

2. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"

Steve Martin and John Candy
Steve Martin, left, and John Candy sit in a destroyed car in a scene from the film "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," 1987. Paramount/Getty Images

Director John Hughes' 1987 film "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" follows Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy) on a journey of Odysseus-like proportions. Suit-wearing advertising exec Page and blue-collar everyman Griffith become an impromptu travel duo after their flight is canceled, and the two race against time to make it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. But the long-distance journey leads to a heartwarming 90-or-so minutes of self-discovery in which each man realizes he isn't quite the easy-going, always-knows-what's-best guy he thought he was. The laugh-out-loud movie is definitely a comedy, but offers a few redemptive lessons, too, like the importance of empathy, especially around the holidays. It'll leave your whole crew feeling a little more willing to put aside any differences that may have arisen from touchy subjects during Thanksgiving dinner earlier in the evening.

  • Stream it: Amazon, Paramount Plus
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: "Please, have mercy. I've been wearing the same underwear since Tuesday."


1. "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"

Charlie Brown balloon, Macy's Day Parade
The Charlie Brown balloon leads the Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

When Peppermint Patty ("C'mon, you can do it, Chuck!") and her friends strongarm Charlie Brown into hosting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, it's up to Woodstock and Snoopy to make the day a success. With unconventional dishes like buttered toast and popcorn — and a relatable struggle with an uncooperative folding chair — Snoopy lends his own brand of wordless charm to the day's events.

When the gang gathers around a ping-pong table for their unique meal at the end of the animated movie, the true meaning of Thanksgiving shines through — and will make you feel thankful to be watching with family, even if your holiday dinner didn't go exactly as planned. A classic for kids, parents and grandparents, the Emmy-winning movie was released nearly 50 years ago, but continues to top lists of the best Thanksgiving movies ever made.

  • Stream it: Apple TV+
  • Line you'll be repeating all weekend: "I think I'm losing control of the whole world."