Film & TV

14 Movies to Watch on Thanksgiving Day

Give thanks for this guide of holiday films to get you in the Thanksgiving spirit.
Reading time 6 minutes

In just a few weeks, families across the United States will gather, either in-person or via Zoom, to celebrate Thanksgiving Day together. Although carving the turkey and serving yams are staple elements, every family has their own traditions: making homemade cranberry sauce, playing football in the yard, or ordering Chinese food. But after a week of cleaning, cooking, and dealing with relatives, putting on a movie might just be the perfect way to bring everyone together this year. So grab a slice of pumpkin pie, pour a glass of wine, and relax with one of following 14 Thanksgiving flims.

"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"

Widely considered a Thanksgiving classic, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, is the perfect film to reminisce on your childhood, so join in on a viewing with the members of the kids' table.

"Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"

Steve Martin and John Candy star in this buddy comedy about two solo travelers who team up to get home for Thanksgiving after their Chicago-bound flight reroutes to Wichita, Kansas. The arduous journey, which involves—you guessed it—planes, trains, and several automobiles—features a series of antics that turns these strangers into friends.


Going the more emotional route, Krisha follows the titular character as she attempts to reunite with her estranged family on Thanksgiving Day. The film, directed by Trey Edward Shults (Waves), explores the impact of addiction on the family dynamic.

"The Oath"

Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz star in this satirical comedy as Kai and Chris. After the government declares that all citizens must take an oath of loyalty by Black Friday, Chris fights with his family on Thanksgiving about their willingness to make the pledge.

"She's Gotta Have It"

She's Gotta Have It wins the award for Most Awkward Thanksgiving Dinner. In the original film and recent Netflix series reboot, both directed by Spike Lee, Nola invites her three lovers to share an extremely uncomfortable Thanksgiving together.

"Tower Heist"

In this comedy, a group of employees at a luxury Manhattan apartment complex team up to rob a Madoff-esque character who swindled them out of their pensions. The star-studded film, featuring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, and Matthew Broderick, uses the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as the backdrop for the heist.

"You've Got Mail"

If you need yet another reason to watch this piece of rom-com gold from Nora Ephron, add "Thanksgiving spirit" to the list. In one scene that takes place on the holiday, Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) starts to make his way into  Kathleen Kelly's (Meg Ryan) good graces when he rescues her in the cash-only line at famous New York grocery store Zabar's, unbeknownst to both characters that they have been emailing each other for months.

"Pieces of April"

On what is expected to be her cancer-stricken mother's final Thanksgiving, April Burns (Katie Holmes) invites her estranged family to have dinner with her and her boyfriend in her cramped Lower East Side apartment in New York City. After a series of mishaps, April must enlist the help of her neighbors to ensure that her dinner is ready in time for her family's arrival.

"Homes for the Holidays"

Directed by Jodie Foster, Home for the Holidays stars Holly Hunter as Claudia, an unemployed single mother who is reluctantly spending Thanksgiving with her family in Baltimore. However, her brother Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.) has a surprise that may just lift her spirits.

"The Holidate"

Technically this Netflix Original romantic comedy encompasses all holidays, but The Holidate’s Thanksgiving scene serves as the climax of the film, forcing the protagonist Sloane (Emma Roberts) to confront her feelings for her part-time date Jackson (Luke Bracey).


Although its not typically seen as a Thanksgiving movie, Rocky and Adrian have a memorable first date at the ice rink. A story of hardship and perseverance, Rocky is the kind of movie that reminds everyone to always be grateful for what they have.

"Mistress America"

Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke star as soon-to-be step-sisters Brooke and Tracy in Mistress America, a coming-of-age film about life, love, and New York. After a falling out, the two women, both alone in the city on Thanksgiving, reunite for dinner in an act of reconciliation.

"Miracle on 34th Street"

While Miracle on 34th Street is largely considered a Christmas movie, fans will remember that the story actually begins on Thanksgiving, when Kris Kringle sees an imposter posing as Santa in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. As such, he meets Doris Walker, the event director, who hires him as the store's newest Santa Claus.

"Paul Blart: Mall Cop"

Cap off your Thanksgiving feast with a comedy that feeds the soul like Paul Blart: Mall Cop. After finishing his own Thanksgiving Day meal, an overzealous, segway-bound security officer takes on a group of theives trying to scam shoppers on the mall's biggest retail day of the year, Black Friday.

Bonus: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Despite a year full of canceled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Macy's is marching forward with the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. In an effort to contain unnecessary crowds, the route has been shortened to focus solely on the Herald Square area in Midtown Manhattan. According to Macy's website, the program will include floats, balloons, and performances, as per usual, however, no performers have been announced as of yet. The broadcast, which will include segments recorded the day prior, will air November 26 at 9 a.m. EST on NBC.



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