It’s Thanksgiving! So, what’ll it be? Ham or Turkey? Stuffing or dressing? Casserole or greens? Cake or pie?
There are so many decisions to be made on Thanksgiving, but none more confrontational than what is going to be on the TV during the family dinner. If football or the Dog Show isn’t your thing, maybe you need to find something on a streamer. What’s showing on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or now HBO Max?
Fortunately, we have narrowed down the Top 10 list of the most festive, tryptophan coma inducing movies ever made centered around turkey and stuff.
Pick your favorite and may the Thanksgiving odds be ever in your favor.
Thanksgiving Debate: Rocky (1976)
Unlike Die Hard and Christmas, Rocky is not a Thanksgiving movie. There’s nothing family oriented about some slagheap of a brother throwing a turkey out of the window. Sure, this is what many homes look like during the festive occasion and family get-togethers, but if Rocky really wanted to make a good impression, he would have beat Paulie’s ass right there. And no leftovers.
10. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Hey, pickings are slim on Thanksgiving for movies. This movie is all about what happens after tummies are full of the fixins’. This is Black Friday! Paul Blart (Kevin James) is a wannabe cop stuck in the ’80s and as a mall cop. Then, some criminal crew take over the mall on the biggest shopping day of the year leaving Blart to save us all. It’s a guilty pleasure for mind-numbing laughter and a glimpse of how Thanksgiving quickly becomes Christmas.
9. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
F-O-X. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan own the holidays. First, Sleepless in Seattle took a big stake in Christmas as a Top 10 favorite. The top of the Empire State Building on Christmas Eve? Please. Pass the tissue. Well, the dynamic holiday duo reconnected for Thanksgiving and You’ve Got Mail during the advent of this whole meeting online thing. If you haven’t seen this heartwarming romcom, check it out. It’ll do you some good as you fall asleep with mashed potatoes and gravy on your chin.
8. For Your Consideration (2006)
Two words: Christopher Guest. If you know, you’re in already. This is another Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara mockumentary with Parker Posey and Harry Shearer who are all making a movie Home for Purim. Despite all the Oscar buzz the film may be getting, the studio intervenes and renames the movie Home for Thanksgiving because — in typical Guest fashion — the title was “too Jewish.” Tense, hilarious, and bonkers. Again, if you know, you’re in.
7. Sweet November (2001)
Fellas, you have been warned. This movie with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron (along with Enya in the soundtrack) will so make you cry out the calories this Thanksgiving so fast that you won’t know what hit you. Theron (Sara) asks Reeves (Nelson) to spend November with her. Sounds easy enough? She promises to change his life forever. She does, but so not in the way you’re thinking. This is one for the tissues.
6. Avalon (1990)
You can never over-romanticize people coming to this country for a better life. And much was life for director Barry Levinson as this film was part auto-biographical (along with Diner). The movie focuses on the Kaye family, Polish-Jewish immigrants, who have several generations under one roof. Few things scream “Thanksgiving” like arguing over gets to cut the turkey. This scene manages that struggle perfectly, which alone lands this one on a list of the best-ever Thanksgiving movies.
5. Home for the Holidays (1995)
What is the theme of most Thanksgiving events at the house? Dysfunctional families. This Jodie Foster-helmed movie is timeless in that regard. With an all-star cast featuring Holly Hunter, Charles Durning, Anne Bancroft, Steve Guttenberg of Police Academy fame, and this up-and-comer named Robert Downey, Jr., this is smart comedy with biting sarcasm. This shows you how to overcome the fam in hilarious fashion. This is definitely something to watch following the post-game.
4. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
One may not equate the feels of family with Woody Allen considering his bag of seediness, but that’s what we have with his classic Hannah and Her Sisters. This film, starring Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, and Barbara Hershey, is shared over the span of two Thanksgivings. Few films focus on family relationships as well as this one, and again, Woody Allen directed it, so there’s that for Thanksgiving Bingo cards. Woody may be many things, but among those names — storyteller is chiefly among them. This is a fantastic family film.
3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
Granted, this isn’t the iconic holiday season fixtures of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or the ever popular A Charlie Brown Christmas but this “Peanuts” classic is a themed festival of typical Charlie Brown missing the kick, Snoopy and his vivid imagination, and Peppermint Patty lording over the holiday. Also, for the jazz lovers out there (shout out The Sound Matrix), Vince Guaraldi is on the keys with a memorable soundtrack as well. The holidays just aren’t the same without the “Peanuts” gang.
2. Scent of a Woman (1992)
This film features one of the best actors (Al Pacino) who won one of the most debated Oscars (no way in hell he should have beaten Denzel Washington for Malcolm X or Robert Downey, Jr. as Chaplin) in one of the tensest Thanksgiving scenes ever. That alone is a recipe for greatness during this holiday. Pacino plays the surly Lt. Colonel Frank Slade, who has an assistant to watch him, college student Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell). There are life lessons, adult aphorisms, and an overall feeling of what life really should be about today. Despite the Oscar imbroglio, this is a gripping and relevant movie regardless of the season.
1. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Everyone argues about the best Christmas movies ever. (In fact, we’re having a Christmas movie draft on Dec. 5 and 6 on the MoviesMatrix Pod.) Yet, few arguments really get out-of-hand on Thanksgiving because this John Hughes classic is the pinnacle of turkey day movies.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles features two of the best comedic actors in any generation — Steve Martin and the late, great John Candy. Easily inspired by The Odd Couple of the 1970s, these two polarizing figures meet in a world full of kismet to rely on each other to get home for Thanksgiving.
Sure, there’s not much turkey in this film, but that journey these two go on is as memorable as your mother’s turkey or sweet potato pie. These many years later, the scenes will still make you laugh like you’ve never seen them before and make you grateful for the people in your life.
One more wonderful scene full of burnt credit cards…