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35 Best Thanksgiving Movies to Watch This Year

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 9/16/2021 Molly Pennington, PhD
Jane Seymour, Vanessa Williams, Malin Akerman, Aisha Tyler, Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, Winona Ryder posing for a photo ©, via streaming sites (9)

Dinner and a movie

Does pie go with popcorn? On Thanksgiving, pie goes with everything. And you’ll definitely want your favorite snacks, sweets, or leftovers on hand as you settle in for some great Thanksgiving movies that celebrate the season. Whether you’re taking a break from holiday prep work, hanging with the family after the big meal, or hosting a Friendsgiving dinner, these movies will hit the spot. In fact, a post-meal movie marathon just may become your favorite new Thanksgiving tradition!

Our list features movies with beautiful autumn energy, gorgeous fall fashion, and plenty of scenes set around the Thanksgiving table, as well as some memorable Thanksgiving quotes. You'll find films filled with family drama, humor, cooking, and romance, though if you’re in the mood to watch one of your favorite Christmas movies, too, we won’t judge! These classics from every genre will get you in the mood for food, fun, and festivities—especially since Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. To that end, you’ll also want to create the perfect playlist for your holiday dinner with these Thanksgiving songs.

Home for the Holidays

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Jodi Foster expertly directed a high-profile ensemble cast in this dramedy about a single mom (Holly Hunter) who heads home for the holidays while her life is in chaos. Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning play her parents, and Robert Downey Jr. stars as her brother. Watch out for a Thanksgiving turkey mishap scene for the ages.

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This low-budget indie rom-com offers sweetness and a dose of the authentic when college kids head home for Thanksgiving break and find everything has changed. It features a hilarious homage to baking pumpkin pies that you won't want to miss.

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Chelsea Peretti, Jane Seymour, Malin Akerman, Wanda Sykes, Aisha Tyler posing for the camera © Via

If you're looking for Thanksgiving movies on Netflix, hit play on this raucous comedy starring Kat Dennings and Malin Akerman as friends going through breakups who plan to spend Thanksgiving alone together until the guest list unexpectedly expands. Enter Jane Seymour, as an estranged mom who shows up unannounced, along with a motley crew of blind dates, exes, and assorted friends who bring holiday mayhem.

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An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

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This popular Hallmark Channel fan-favorite adapts a Louisa May Alcott (of Little Women fame) short story set in 1880s New England. Jacqueline Bisset plays a wealthy woman summoned by her granddaughter to her daughter's struggling farm during the Thanksgiving season. FYI, this is the real history of Thanksgiving.

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Little Fockers

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The Meet the Parents franchise perfected awkward dinner scenes. In the third entry in the franchise, Greg (Ben Stiller) and his father-in-law (Robert De Niro) offer unforgettable laughs during the carving of the Thanksgiving turkey in front of the grandkids. It doesn't exactly go as planned! Do you have plans for keeping the kids entertained on the big day? Here are some Thanksgiving games they'll love.

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One of the best Thanksgiving movies on Netflix stars Emma Roberts as Sloane, a woman who finds a handsome "holidate" to be her plus one during a calendar year of holiday gatherings. This is the perfect rom-com for anyone who loves over-the-top holiday celebrations, including an almost romantic Thanksgiving with a burning turkey and familial hysteria.

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Pieces of April

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Katie Holmes stars as April, who tries to cook a Thanksgiving feast for her out-of-town family when she discovers her oven doesn't work, so she has to ask the other building tenants for help. Patricia Clarkson plays her ailing mother in this dramedy that captures dysfunction with heartwarming love and affection. If you want to impress as a host this year, steal a few ideas from our ultimate Thanksgiving menu.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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John Candy and Steve Martin give iconic performances in the ultimate movie about all the things that can and do go wrong during holiday travel. You'll find your heartstrings pulled amid all the laughter from the silly, funny setups.

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A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

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This is the quintessential Thanksgiving movie. Return to the iconic moment when Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown right as he's about to kick it. Aaugh! Life is hard, but in this animated TV special, sweetness prevails when the Peanuts gang prepares a Thanksgiving feast complete with jelly beans. Keep the fun going with these Thanksgiving riddles the whole family will enjoy.

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Turkey Hollow

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Jim Henson's monster Muppets hide out in the woods of Turkey Hollow in this family-friendly adventure. Two kids visit their aunt (Mary Steenburgen) and soon find themselves on the hunt for the "Howling Hoodoo."

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The Blind Side

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Sandra Bullock won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as a foster mom who takes in a young student who turns out to have a knack for football. Tune in for the moving scene of the teen's first Thanksgiving as part of the family.

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Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Add a dollop of whipped cream to your holiday and put on this heartwarming Hallmark Channel romance. A woman planning the big holiday parade finds herself working with a money man who is getting in the way of her vision. Why does he have to be so handsome?! If you have a soft spot for these romances, you'll definitely want to bookmark this massive list of Hallmark Christmas movies.

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Yep, Rocky counts as a Thanksgiving movie! Don't forget: Rocky's sidekick Paulie tries to get his sister Adrian to go out on a date with the iconic boxer (Sylvester Stallone). She can't go because it's Thanksgiving and she's got a turkey in the oven. The fate of the turkey is both tragic and funny—and the same is true of the budding romance between the two classic characters. It's the perfect sweet and uplifting story for your Thanksgiving eve.

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The Thanksgiving turkey pecks in the yard, and then, in a brilliant edit, it appears cooked on a platter and served to the family. Crying, inconsolable children recognize their pet "Pedro" in this iconic scene in the classic drama starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. If only Pedro could have been pardoned! By the way, this is why the president pardons a turkey every year.

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This artsy, superbly acted gem takes place as an estranged mom heads home to try to make amends on Thanksgiving. Intense emotions invade family life in this mesmerizing character study with an unforgettably devastating scene around prepping the turkey.

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If you're looking for campy, so-bad-it's-good low-budget schlock with a Thanksgiving theme, then Thankskilling is the film for you. Family audiences: Beware of the evil, murderous monster, Turkie. If gore mixed with humor is your go-to for fun, chances are you'll love these funny scary movies, too.

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One True Thing

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Meryl Streep was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in this movie as a wife and mom who struggles with cancer. Renée Zellweger plays the grown daughter who has to come home to help with the holidays. The two try to hold the family together, especially during a tense Thanksgiving meal when guests get all the attention.

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Soul Food

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It may not take place on Thanksgiving, but if you want to see families sitting around the dinner table eating the best food you can imagine, this is the holiday movie treat for you.

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The Daytrippers

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Heat up some leftovers for this quirky, engaging family drama that takes place the day after Thanksgiving. Hope Davis plays a woman who takes her family on a road trip to figure out what happened to her husband (Stanley Tucci) after she finds a mysterious love letter.

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Addams Family Values

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In this sequel about the Halloween-y Addams family, the wonderfully wicked Wednesday (Christina Ricci) goes to camp and performs in a Thanksgiving pageant that undoes stereotypes about Native Americans. The number is an homage to the holiday replete with funny costumes, hilarious revenge, and a musical number with the refrain "eat me."

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Sweet November

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Give in to this tearjerker romance featuring Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves as a lovestruck couple who meet at the beginning of November and try to make the month last forever. Thanksgiving is the scene for an impromptu wooing. Here are more of the best romantic movies of all time.

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She's Gotta Have It

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The original 1986 film was the groundbreaking first feature from director Spike Lee, who also helms the 2017 series update on Netflix. Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) invites the three men she's dating to Thanksgiving dinner in this stylish indie filmed in black and white.

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The Oath

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Tiffany Haddish stars in this scathing political satire with Ike Barinholtz, who also wrote and directed it. Set during Thanksgiving week, the film follows a family who gathers and agrees not to talk politics, but their relations soon skid off the rails. Give it a try instead of fighting with your own family.

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What's Cooking

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Audiences love this affecting family drama with interconnected stories and an all-star cast set on Thanksgiving in a Los Angeles neighborhood. Kyra Sedgwick, Julianna Margulies, Mercedes Ruehl, Alfre Woodard, and Joan Chen star.

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Mistress America

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If you're in the mood for a quirky dramedy, watch Mistress America with Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke as would-be stepsisters who meet up before their parents' wedding and become fast friends. All the relations fall apart, but the two find they still have a bond when they find themselves together for Thanksgiving.

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Instant Family

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Instant Family features a Thanksgiving dinner table discussion about adoption in this comedy about the bonds in a newly made foster family. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne play the parents in this heartwarming true story about being grateful for your family. Having a hard time remembering the reason for the season? Here's a big list filled with plenty of reasons to be thankful this year.

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The Gold Rush

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Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp eats his shoe for Thanksgiving dinner while trapped in a blizzard in this endearing silent film classic from 1925. Watch this one if you're in the mood to see a leather shoe prepped and eaten as if it were a succulent turkey. Makes you grateful for what you have!

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Free Birds

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In this family-friendly animated romp, two turkeys steal a time machine and head back to the first Thanksgiving to try to keep turkeys off the menu. An all-star cast featuring Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, and George Takei provides the voices. Don't miss these other family movies you and your kids will love.

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Autumn in New York

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Looking for the beautiful vibe of fall in the city? Lush falling leaves and sweater weather set the scene for this tearjerker romance directed by Joan Chen. Richard Gere and Winona Ryder play star-crossed lovers whose relationship gets hampered by terminal illness.

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The Wiz

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There's no place like home! The Wiz earns its place as a Thanksgiving tradition since this Wizard of Oz-inspired musical takes place on the family holiday. Diana Ross stars as Dorothy, who helps her Auntie Em clear the table before she chases Toto outside, right into the tornado that transports her to Oz. Stunning visuals accompany the star-studded musical numbers.

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Lez Bomb

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A woman brings her girlfriend home for Thanksgiving in this LGBTQ movie, but she can't quite come out to her conservative parents. To make matters worse, her family mistakes her roommate for her boyfriend in this good-natured comedy, with a cast that includes Kevin Pollack, Bruce Dern, Steve Guttenberg, and Cloris Leachman.

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Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Enjoy the lush color palette and art direction in this stop-motion animation classic brimming with the perfect fall aesthetic. Delight in the details as the tweed-clad forest creatures prepare a celebratory banquet, then continue the kiddie fun with these Thanksgiving crafts.

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Dead Poets Society

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This literary drama takes place at a 1950s-era boarding school during the back-to-school to winter break period. Indulge in the breathtaking cinematography that evokes the best of fall. Robin Williams gives an inspired performance as a valiant teacher caught in a scandalous tragedy.

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The Turkey Bowl

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After a high school football bowl was canceled due to bad weather, the now-grown-up team members decide to play a rematch over Thanksgiving. This is one of the Thanksgiving movies on Hulu that brings together sports, comedy, and a touch of rom-com. In case you've ever wondered, this is why we watch football on Thanksgiving.

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Tower Heist

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If you love heist movies, this is the one for you to watch on Thanksgiving. The ultimate sting must take place during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in this caper movie with an all-star ensemble cast that includes Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Tea Leoni, Alan Alda, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, and more.

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Need to get in the holiday spirit? Try some of the best tips and tricks to make your home merry and bright. Learn more.

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