12 Thanksgiving Movies to Keep You in the Holiday Spirit

Whatever Thanksgiving might look like to you and your family this year, help ease the stress and up the nostalgia by settling down with the perfect movie. Here are some of our favorites, broken down by category, but all equally perfect for post-feast relaxing.

Family Favorites

This is the list for the family-bubble gatherings, the ones with grandmas and grandaunts, grumpy uncles and not-so-funny dads. These are the best movies to enjoy for multigenerational households, down to the hyperactive-running-on-two-slices-of-pie toddlers and the weird cousins. If your family isn’t in a position to celebrate in-person this year, consider setting up Netflix Party or Scener, both online extensions to virtually sync movies and watch over video chat.

‘Free Birds’ (2013)

Animated turkeys traveling back in time to prevent Thanksgiving? What a storyline. If the bulk of your family gathering consists of young children, throw on this kiddie favorite. Featuring the voices of adult favorites like Owen Wilson and Amy Pohler, this movie will be a delightful watch for audiences of all ages. 

‘Addams Family Values’ (1993)

The Thanksgiving sequel to the cult classic “The Addams Family” is equally as enthralling as its prequel. Your favorite dark couple Morticia and Gomez and their quirky children, especially the beloved Wednesday, are back in this macabre tale of family values. Joan Cusack stars as Debbie Jellinsky, Uncle Fester’s new, serial killer wife who marries him for his inheritance. Put this on this Thanksgiving to end a memorable night!

‘The Blind Side’ (2009)

For a movie that will get the whole family tearing up, “The Blind Side” will never miss. Sandra Bullock won the Academy Award for Best Actress as the lead matriarch in this movie based on the real life events surrounding the Tuohy family and Michael Oher. It’s not your typical Southern family and football kind of story, this one brings a whole lotta heart.

‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ (1973)

The ultimate Thanksgiving classic. This movie brings back childhood memories of sitting around the blazing fireplace, cozy socks on and stomach bursting from the hour long meal you’ve just had. One of the most feel good movies of all time, you can’t go wrong with Charlie Brown.

Sappy Romantics

Everyone loves a romance movie, no matter the time of the year. Whether Thanksgiving is just with your significant other this year, or it’s your Galsgiving hang-out, here are the best romantic Thanksgiving movies.

‘You’ve Got Mail’ (1998)

Despite this movie being the third collaboration between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, their chemistry has not sizzled out. Pop some popcorn, or maybe reheat a leftover piece of pumpkin pie, and enjoy Hanks and Ryan doing what they do best: go through a series of unnecessary hurdles before they realize they were soulmates all along.

‘House of Yes’ (1997)

This is probably the strangest movie in this article, but hear me out. It’s the perfect movie to dish out with your closest friends. You don’t have to pay too much attention, and the right moments will certainly grab you whether you want it to or not. Tori Spelling plays “Jackie-O,” the twin sister of Marty Pascal, who travels home for Thanksgiving to announce his engagement. You’ll (truly) never guess what happens next.

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (2012)

If you’ve never seen this movie, you can prepare for it by gathering up all your emotions and keeping them close to your heart. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper never ceases to stun in their performance as enemies to friends to lovers in this whirlwind of a story. One of the best rated and most awarded movies of 2012, this will be a heartwarming choice for the holiday season.

‘Autumn in New York’ (2000)

What could go wrong with a movie featuring rom-com hunk Richard Gere and Hollywood long-time favorite Winona Ryder? A lot, especially if Gere plays a womanizer who falls for Ryder, a woman with a terminal illness. As the title says, set in autumn of New York, you can follow along the trials and tribulations of this couples’ endearing love story.

Unorthodox Choices

Here are the selections that don’t really fit anywhere. Nor are they “true” Thanksgiving films. But they certainly will make you, and whoever else you have around this holiday season, end the night with a smile on your face. 

‘Rocky’ (1976)

Bum bum bum bum bum…bum bum bum. The most Thanksgiving thing about this movie is probably the scene where the turkey gets thrown out the window. But what better American classic to watch over Thanksgiving weekend than a movie about diligence, hard work and humility? It’s not like anyone ever regretted watching Rocky for the third, fourth or fifth time.

‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (2009)

A Wes Anderson film based on a Roald Dahl book? Sign me up. And it does not disappoint. George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray are among the stars that lend their voice to this animated film about a fox who steals from his wealthy, farmer neighbors. Another amazing movie fit for all ages, you might even burn off all the dessert calories from laughing so hard.

‘Little Women’ (2019)

With a whopping six Academy Award nominations in 2019, “Little Women” is a must see for the whole family. As Jo March, Saoirse Ronan leads an incredibly talented cast in director Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the beloved American novel. Follow the March sisters as they grow up in New England, facing heartbreak, war, illness and everything in between. 

‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ (2001)

I have to include this in here! This is the quintessential feel-good movie for all ages. If watching this will inspire a Harry Potter marathon that will last until Christmas? So be it. It’s never a wrong choice to wave your wand and go tumbling down into the Wizarding World.

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Cindy Mei is an intern at Better. Currently in her senior year of college at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Cindy is moved by strong storytelling about personal identity and culture. She is an avid fan of the works of Anthony Bourdain, Alex Kotlowitz and Jenn Fang.

Cindy is a proud alumna and supporter of After School Matters, a non-profit organization that offers arts and leadership classes to Chicago high schoolers. She also encourages support for Think!Chinatown, a New York City based non-profit that fundraises for Chinese businesses in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

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