(Credit: Netflix)

The 5 best Thanksgiving movies to watch on Netflix

Here in America, one of the most important holidays of the year is right around the corner: Christmas! But there’s also another celebratory day to get through before unwrapping presents. Thanksgiving is the perfect American holiday – a whitewashed piece of nonsense that’s celebrating all the wrong things. But for many, it’s as good an excuse as any to throw on a sweater, deal with your in-laws for a few hours, and eat enough food to fall asleep at 5pm.

Perhaps because of its somewhat sordid history, there aren’t a ton of explicitly Thanksgiving-themed films. They don’t translate terribly well to markets outside of the US, and a holiday-focused film set at the end of the year can just as easily turn into a Christmas film, given that holiday’s proven track record with moviegoers. It takes a very specific kind of filmmaker to decide they want to make a Thanksgiving film, and the quality of the films that surround November 25th vary wildly.

Perhaps that’s part of their charm: they’re so few and far between that each Thanksgiving-adjacent film has its own story to tell about family, connection, America, and the inherent difficulties of the holiday season. They’re not always insightful or terribly good to watch, but they all contribute to the varied tapestry that is the Thanksgiving holiday and the American holiday season as a whole.

To celebrate turkey day, we’ve picked out ten films that each find their own unique angle on the traditional celebration. Some of these films are all-time classics; some of them are admitted stinkers. But all of them had the gall to turn their nose up at the more-successful Christmas film formula and instead take place a month prior, and for that, they should be acknowledged.

Here are the best Thanksgiving films to watch this year.

Best Thanksgiving movies on Netflix right now:

You’ve Got Mail – (Nora Ephron, 1998)

More of a fall movie than a true Thanksgiving movie, You’ve Got Mail still provides that warm, ooey-gooey sentimentality that the holiday calls for.

The third romantic comedy pairing of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, this film is a time capsule of the late ’90s where things like AOL chat rooms, bookstores, and pre-controversy Dave Chappelle were still a thing. Even though Hanks’ character basically ruins Ryan’s life, their combined likeability still has you rooting for them all the way to the end. It’s corny but it’s true: New York City is beautiful in the fall.

Available: Netflix US

Sweet November – (Pat O’Connor, 2001)

Maybe being from D.C. myself has made me biased towards this District-set film, or maybe I’m just a sucker for Keanu Reeves’ romantic period of the early 2000s where he briefly traded in his action star status for a play at becoming a suave leading man. Either way, Sweet November is terribly hacky, goofily written, and was pretty much universally panned when it came out. But it is not without its charms.

Charlize Theron acts circles around Reeves, even with the subpar lines she has to read, but they go toe-to-toe during the Thanksgiving reunion scene that puts an overly-sentimental cherry on top of an only slightly self-aware melodrama.

Available: Netflix US

Addams Family Values – (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1993)

Whereas the first Addams Family film focused too much on world-building, Addams Family Values throws out any semblance of seriousness and dives headfirst into the ridiculous world that the gothic family inhabit. Part of the silliness involves taking the traditionally-Halloween focused family out of their element and putting them instead in a Thanksgiving setting.

That means we get to see Wednesday gleefully burn down the Thanksgiving play in a nod to the loonier, and more macabre, origins of the family. Death and teenage drama surround the film’s plot, but it’s just an excuse for the film to pull out ridiculous sight gags and make fun of sappy Disney movies, making Addams Family Values the perfect balm if you’re feeling a little too sentimental this holiday season.

Available: Netflix US

The Oath – (Ike Barinholtz, 2018)

If you want to lean directly into the politically-fraught discussions that can come up during turkey time, The Oath is probably the most appropriate movie to put on.

Centred around a family’s divisions that come with signing a government oath of allegiance, Ike Barinholtz amplifies the discomfort and awkwardness that most people dread about Thanksgiving. It’s a thinly-veiled dig at the American administration that is only a year out of office at this point, but the themes of family partisanship are timeless.

Available: Netflix US

Krisha – Trey Edward Shults (2015)

This A24 film had a habit of splitting audiences when it first arrived in 2015. However, thanks to its Thanksgiving setting, the film has quickly become a favourite of millennials the country over.

While the setting of the film may well be the family gatherings that permeate the holiday, the truth it, the story is actually about dealing with addiction. Raw, tender and utterly compelling, the movie may not be the perfect family favourite but is a winner for when the kids have fallen asleep in a pumpkin pie coma.

Available: Netflix US

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