10 Thanksgiving Films (And Where to Watch Them)

As Turkey Day approaches in America, many film lovers seek out recommendations for Thanksgiving themed films.  What follows is a list of 10 hilarious, terrifying, heartbreaking, and cheesy films that embody the spirit of the holiday...for better or worse.  

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles 

The obvious choice in this list, and arguably the perfect Thanksgiving film.  Featuring unforgettable turns by Steve Martin and John Candy, this heartwarming story about cross country travel during the holidays is one for the ages.  Available: Digital Rental

The Ice Storm 

Ang Lee's brilliant deconstruction of the American family was recently released by the Criterion Collection.  A cold, brutal look at the disintegration of the tribes of the ‘70s, the film features unforgettable performances by Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Cline, Elijah Wood, and Jamey Sheridan.  Available: Digital Purchase 


Written by John Hughes and the second (and last film) by the director of Crocodile Dundee, Dutch is a road trip, father-son bonding film lead by the unforgettable Ed O'Neil.  Panned upon release, the film improves slightly with age, purely based on O'Neil's charisma.  Available: DVD 

Addams Family Values 
Perhaps the best single Thanksgiving themed scene in cinematic history.  Wednesday Addams' revolution against her camp counselors is unforgettable and relegates this film to an essential watch during the holiday.  Available:  Digital Rental 


Alone on campus during Thanksgiving break, Kristy is targeted by an enigmatic cult who are hunting her because of her name.  An unusually strong Lifetime original, the cliché' plot is anchored by Haley Bennett's outstanding central performance.  Available: Netflix

The Big Chill 

Lawrence Kasdan's magnum opus, The Big Chill is an essential American film.  A star-studded rumination on growing up and infatuations with the past, this is a remarkable, poignant story about a generation without cause.  It also features one of the most memorable soundtracks every compiled.  Available: Krackle, CBS Subs 


Pure, glorious trash.  Thankskilling is the best kind of awful cinematic experience you can have.  It's a story about a homicidal, demonic turkey stalking college coeds during Thanksgiving break.  If you're not already in, there's no hope for you.  Available: Amazon Prime. 

The New World 

The Enigmatic Terrance Malick's moving work of art is nothing short of a miracle.  One of the most gorgeous films ever made, largely due to Emmanuel Lubezski's angelic cinematography.  The story centers on a love triangle between John Rolfe, John Smith, and Pocahontas.  Available: Vudu (Free) 

Scent of a Woman 

Al Pacino's first Oscar win, the story focuses on a blind Colonel who is escorted through New York over the Thanksgiving holiday by a blue-collar prep school student.  While it doesn't hold upon revisit, the finale is worth the overly long run time, purely for Pacino's bravura.  Available: STARZ Subs

One of the most terrifying films ever made about family, Trey Edward Shults' debut feature is simply unforgettable.  Krisha Fairchild's haunting central performance is one of the greatest of the decade, transforming the horrors of addiction into a tangible, broken matron that infests the bowels of a family's well-meaning get together.  Absolutely unforgettable, particularly during an apocalyptic, turkey focused climax.  Available: Kanopy, Digital Rental.  

Honorable Mentions

Thanksgiving – Eli Roth’s legendary trailer demands feature treatment. (Youtube)

Pieces of April – Katie Holmes leads an exceptional indie cast in this heartwarming story about the meaning of the holiday.  (Amazon Prime)

House of Yes – Parker Posey stars in a pitch-black comedy set during the holiday weekend. (Amazon Prime – Rental)

--Kyle Jonathan