It’s that time of the season again… for Thanksgiving movies? While October is known as the month for horror flicks, and December is known for one holiday classic film after another, the genre for Thanksgiving movies is rather tiny. That being said, there is a handful of great films to watch around the holiday, especially the number one choice, which is one of the greatest comedies ever made.
Here are the five best Thanksgiving movies…
5. Thanksgiving (2007)
Okay, so this one’s kind of a cheat, but it’s the only horror entry worth mentioning here. Eli Roth’s hilarious, true-to-the-period three minute trailer that originally accompanied the three-plus-hour motion picture extravaganza Grindhouse features a cheerleader doing the splits against a giant kitchen knife. What celebrates the season more than that? Roth once mentioned trying to get a feature film version of this trailer, a la Machete, off the ground, but so far, nothing yet.
4. Home for the Holidays (1995)
Jodie Foster directed this delightful mid-90s comedy that features a huge ensemble cast including Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr, Anne Bancroft, Claire Danes, Cynthia Stevenson, and David Strathairn. It’s easy to find yourself in one of these family members at the Thanksgiving table filled with laughs, truths, and a whole lot of arguing. Foster had previously directed the more serious Little Man Tate but here she was able to flex her comedic muscles, to winning effect.
3. Pieces of April (2003)
In her best film performance, Katie Holmes plays a young woman living in New York who, despite estranged from them, opts to cook Thanksgiving dinner for her family. Shot on a cheap-looking digital camera, the movie has the look of an experimental art project, the pacing of a great Hollywood comedy, and the feel of a holiday classic. Patricia Clarkson was nominated for an Oscar for her poignant performance, and the screenplay by Peter Hedges (writer of About a Boy) was one of the finest of 2003.
2. The Ice Storm (1997)
Simply one of the best suburban angst movies ever made, Ang Lee’s masterpiece becomes more haunting with each viewing. The film, which ends on Thanksgiving Day, features memorable performances by Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, and Christina Ricci. This most definitely is not a movie to play for the family before your big dinner, but this is still a powerful piece of work that culminates into one of the most somber downer endings of any movie surrounding a superficially happy holiday.
1. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987)
One of the best comedies ever made is the movie to watch with your family at Thanksgiving. Steve Martin is trying to get home from New York to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving dinner with his family but hits one problem after another. John Candy is a fellow traveler who just wants a friend and keeps finding himself in Martin’s company. John Hughes made a lot of great movies in the 1980s, but this one’s his best, combining huge laughs and genuine heart. If you’ve never seen Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, do yourself a favor and watch it this Thanksgiving!