We'll take our heaping mashed potatoes with a side of these family-friendly flicks.

Mackenzie Dunn
Nov 13, 2020 @ 2:37 pm
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Credit: Wilson Webb, Sony Pictures

Thanksgiving might look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with traditions. When the turkey has been cooked, the wishbone has been broken, and all those dirty dishes have been put away (or left in the sink, we won’t judge you), it’s time to curl up on the couch and lounge off that glorious turkey coma by watching a festive, family-friendly movie. If you can’t be with your family in person this year, you can still watch with each other via apps like Netflix Party, which allows you to synchronize video playback and provide comments in real time on the screen. However, we all know that settling on a movie to watch is often easier said than done.

That’s why we rounded up 16 movies to watch on Thanksgiving for you to choose from. From movies with iconic Thanksgiving scenes to films that just give you the warm, fuzzy, family feeling to early holiday favorites, there’s something for everyone on this list. When it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving, it’s the little things we feel most grateful for—this year especially. 

1. Little Women (2019)

If you missed this remake of Louisa May Alcott's beloved 1868 book last year, it's definitely worth adding to your Turkey Day watchlist. Complete with gorgeous countryside backdrops, cozy 1800s homestead interiors, badass female characters, and, of course, a swoon-worthy love story, it has pretty much everything you need to cap off a Thanksgiving night in.

2. You've Got Mail (1998)

While not necessarily a tried-and-true Thanksgiving movie, this late-'90s love story has tons of dreamy autumn-in-New-York-City vibes, so it makes our list. It stars the dynamic '90s rom-com duo Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who play competing bookstore owners that develop an anonymous internet romance. It's the kind of movie that will bring you back to simpler times, where high-speed internet and Amazon Kindles weren't a thing. Ah, the nostalgia.

3. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Miracle on 34th Street might technically be a Christmas movie, but it all begins at the fictionalized version of the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, so it's the perfect way to end your feast and bring on the pre-Christmas excitement.

5. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

You can’t go wrong with this bonafide classic that follows Charlie and his gang as they put together their very own Thanksgiving feast. The 1970s Charles Schulz TV special won an Emmy Award, and with just a 25-minute runtime, you can always start off with this animated short and watch another feature-length film, too. 

5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Steve Martin is a slapstick genius in this 1987 comedy about a man trying to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving but whose plan ultimately gets rerouted due to a snowstorm. Forced to make other travel arrangements, he must also deal with an unlikely travel companion. The quirky John Hughes film is considered one of the best Thanksgiving movies of all time, and we couldn't agree more.

6. The Oath (2018)

Tiffany Haddish lends her talents to this satirical comedy about a husband and wife duo who learn that they must sign a loyalty oath to their president by Thanksgiving Day. Complete with sparring relatives and not-so-subtle political hot takes, this is a story of a truly modern Thanksgiving. 

7. Knives Out (2019)

Knives Out is the kind of movie that will make you feel good about your dysfunctional family dynamics. It's not a holiday movie, but it has plenty of family drama and gorgeous cozy fall landscapes (not to mention Chris Evans' viral cable-knit sweater) to make it the perfect movie to watch on Thanksgiving.

8. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

Tom Hanks delights as Fred Rodgers (aka Mister Rodgers) in this movie that offers insight into the beloved children's TV show host's life. It's the kind of movie that will restore your faith in humanity and give you all those warm, fuzzy feelings that come around the holidays. Plus, with Tom Hanks as the lead, you really can't go wrong.

9. Free Birds (2013)

Owen Wilson is the voice of a lucky turkey that has been pardoned on Thanksgiving in this silly animated comedy flick that kids will love. Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, and George Takei also lend their voices as fellow turkeys who all embark on a journey to try to change what was on the menu at the very first Thanksgiving feast.  

10. Dan In Real Life (2007)

Complicated family relationships are the name of the game in this Steve Carrell romance. It tells the story of his character, Dan Burns, a widower who gives family advice for a living but actually has a hard time raising his three daughters on his own. With plenty of sibling rivalry and overbearing family shenanigans, it's the kind of real, relatable story that has a welcomed place on our Thanksgiving night watchlist.

11. The Family Stone (2005)

In our opinion, after the last bite of Thanksgiving turkey is eaten, Christmas movies are officially fair game. And if you have to pick one to start with, The Family Stone is an excellent choice. Equal parts humor and drama, the 2005 film follows Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) as she meets her boyfriend Everett’s (Dermot Mulroney) large family for the holidays. Of course, it doesn’t exactly go as planned. Exemplifying family chaos at its finest, this movie is one of the most real depictions of spending holidays with the family we've seen, and for that we're grateful.

12. Holiday Inn (1942)

Yes, this movie is nearly 80 years old, but hear us out: It still holds up! A throwback, black-and-white holiday classic, this movie is brimming with old Hollywood charm. With music by Irving Berlin—including the well-known classic "White Christmas"—it's the story of a performing trio and love triangle that become entangled around the holidays. It's technically more of a Christmas movie (which, as we said, is totally fair game after the turkey has been eaten), but it also features an iconic scene in which every major holiday (including Thanksgiving) gets its own mini song. How festive.

13. Ratatouille (2007)

After chowing down on your delicious Thanksgiving meal, you'll probably be stuffed. But you'll be salivating again after watching this precious Disney Pixar film about a rat who is also a top-notch chef.

14. Friendsgiving (2020)

If you’re opting to host Thanksgiving with your close friends this year instead of traveling home to see family (we don't blame you), queue up this just-released movie starring Kat Dennings and Malin Akerman as two besties who host a dysfunctional, comical and chaotic Thanksgiving dinner for their crew and close acquaintances.

15. Home for the Holidays (1995)

What’s worse: eating Thanksgiving dinner alone or spending the holiday with your wildly dysfunctional family? One woman will find out soon. After losing her job and finding out her own daughter is ditching her to spend the holiday with her boyfriend’s family, single mom Claudia Larson (bless you, Holly Hunter) travels to her childhood home to break bread with the loudest, most over-the-top cast of characters she’s ever known: her family.

16. Tower Heist (2011)

When a group of luxury apartment workers lose their pensions to a greedy billionaire, they join together to steal them back. The most genius plan? Executing a robbery when no one is looking: during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.