25 best Thanksgiving movies to stream right now (November 2023) Focus
Thanksgiving usually conjures three things for Americans: food, festivities, and football. Lots, and lots, of football. Yet for many, the holiday is also a time to park one’s rear in front of the TV set and catch up on the mountain of movies that are waiting in the streaming queue.
Time is precious, so Digital Trends has put together a list of the 25 best movies to watch for Thanksgiving on almost every streamer out there. (Yes, even Tubi.) From obvious classics like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Planes, Trains and Automobiles to films seemingly unrelated to Turkey Day like Moneyball and The Worst Person in the World, these movies will satisfy that emotional craving to have a good time while digesting all those leftovers.
Paramount+ Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) Paramount
The most famous Thanksgiving movie is arguably Planes, Trains and Automobiles, John Hughes’ 1987 comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy. If anyone has ever traveled home for the Thanksgiving holiday, you know how stressful it can be, and no matter how many times you prepare for the worst, delays always happen. This anxious feeling is perfectly captured in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
Neal Page (Martin) is an advertising executive on a business trip in New York City. With Thanksgiving two days away, Neal plans to board a flight to Chicago to see his family. Thanks to a blizzard, Neal’s flight is rerouted to Wichita, where he is forced to bunk with Del (Candy), a clumsy and kind shower curtain ring salesman. Neal and Del form an odd couple who constantly argue after multiple mishaps. However, Neal slowly realizes that to make it home in time, he will need Del’s help. That is if Neal can find it in his heart to show kindness toward Del.
Stream Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Paramount+.
Netflix The Addams Family (1991) Paramount
Admittedly, Addams Family Values would be a better choice for Thanksgiving, especially given the scene where Wednesday Addams (Yellowjackets‘ Christina Ricci) stages a revolt by Native Americans against the Pilgrims during a Thanksgiving camp play. But that sequel is not on Netflix, so we’ll go with what we have, which is the original movie inspired by the TV series and Charles Addams’ New Yorker comics: The Addams Family.
It’s appropriate for the holidays because, for all of their macabre characteristics, Gomez (the late Raul Julia in a standout performance) and Morticia Addams (Anjelica Huston) are wildly in love with each other. Even their kids, Wednesday and Pugsley Addams (Jimmy Workman), genuinely love their parents. This isn’t lost on Gordon Craven (Christopher Lloyd), the man who was sent to steal the Addams’ family fortune by pretending to be Gomez’s long-lost brother, Fester. With so much love in the family, Gordon can’t stop himself from loving them too, even if it conflicts with his mission.
Watch The Addams Family on Netflix.
Paddington (2014) StudioCanal
Paddington Bear is an incredibly popular character among children, and Paddington is the perfect example of why generations of kids find him so endearing. In this retelling, Paddington (Passages star Ben Whishaw) is an orphaned bear who makes his way from Peru to Britain in the hope of finding a new home. Despite some initial misgivings, Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins) agree to take Paddington in, much to the delight of their kids, Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin).
But there’s one person who isn’t moved by Paddington’s infallibly polite demeanor: Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman). She wants to add this bear to her taxidermy collection, even though Millicent and Paddington share a connection that neither of them realizes.
Watch Paddington on Netflix.
Hook (1991) TriStar Pictures
There is no Peter Pan anymore in Steven Spielberg’s Hook. Instead, the boy who never grew up has in fact done just that. Now known as Peter Banning (Robin Williams), the former leader of the Lost Boys has lost a lot of the fire and passion that he once had. That’s one of the many reasons that Peter is unprepared when his old nemesis, Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman), kidnaps Peter’s two children, Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie Banning (Amber Scott).
With the help of a still-smitten Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts), Peter embarks on a return visit to Neverland to rescue his children and reclaim the inner child he once had.
Watch Hook on Netflix.
Stuart Little (1999) Columbia Pictures
Like Paddington, Stuart Little is also based on a popular series of children’s books The title character (as voiced by Michael J. Fox) is a talking mouse who is adopted into the Little family by Frederick (Hugh Laurie) and Eleanor (Geena Davis). This does not go over well with the Little’s human son, George (Jonathan Lipnicki), or the family cat, Snowball (voiced by Only Murders in the Building star Nathan Lane).
Although Stuart is able to form a bond with George over their shared interests, winning over Snowball proves to be more difficult. Snowball is so put off by the idea of being Stuart’s pet that he takes part in a scheme to permanently remove Stuart from his home by tricking him into believing that his real parents are still alive.
Watch Stuart Little on Netflix.
Chicken Run (2000) DreamWorks Pictures
There is a certain irony about eating turkey while watching a film about chickens trying to escape their eventual place on the dinner menu. But Chicken Run is a genuine animated classic, and Netflix even has a sequel, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, lined up to premiere next month.
On a chicken farm run by Mr. Tweedy (Tony Haygarth) and Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson), Ginger (Julia Sawalha) and the other chickens realize that their goose is cooked – figuratively speaking – if they don’t get out soon. Enter Rocky (Mel Gibson), an American rooster who crash-lands on the farm. This leads Ginger and her friends to believe that Rocky can fly, and they hide him from the Tweedys in return for his promise to teach them how to fly so they can pull off their great escape.
Watch Chicken Run on Netflix.
Disney+ Home Alone (1990) 20th Century Fox
It’s never too early to watch Home Alone. With Chris Columbus’ Christmas comedy serving as a family movie, I can’t think of a better time to watch it than Thanksgiving night. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is an eight-year-old who constantly feels disrespected and neglected by his large family. The night before a family trip to Paris for the Christmas holiday, Kevin is forced to sleep in the attic, but not before wishing his family would disappear for good.
The next morning, Kevin wakes up to see his family has disappeared. In actuality, the McCallisters forgot Kevin and flew to Paris without him. Kevin enjoys his newfound freedom until two thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister home. Even though he can’t reach the top shelf, Kevin builds a series of traps to thwart the robbery. Will it be enough to save his home?
Stream Home Alone on Disney+.
Apple TV+ A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973) Lee Mendelson Film Productions
I’m fully aware that it’s cheating to put A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, a holiday special, on a list of movies to watch for the holiday. However, it’s Charlie Brown. It’s a boy who has taught millions about the reasons why we gather at the holidays. Charlie showed us that spending time with loved ones is important, and we must appreciate what we have, not what we don’t have. If those messages don’t sit well with you, that’s even more of a reason to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
In the 1973 special, Charlie and Sally Brown are heading to their grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner when Peppermint Patty invites herself and a few friends over. Before he can leave for his grandma’s house, Charlie cooks a makeshift non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the help of Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock. When the meal disappoints some of the guests, it serves as a gentle reminder of the meaning behind Thanksgiving.
Stream A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Apple TV+.
The Humans (2021)
The Humans is a chilling, frequently staggering adaptation of the play of the same name. The film follows a small family reuniting in New York City for Thanksgiving and features the highs and lows that often accompany that kind of family get-together. The Humans can, at times, play a bit like a horror movie, as it is filled with the unexplained sounds of a crumbling New York apartment.
What’s really terrifying about it, though, is the way that the family at its core seems to come at least partially unhinged. In the end, the story of The Humans is one of love, even if it’s the kind of love that almost always makes family impossible to deal with.
The Humans can be rented or purchased on Apple TV+.
Amazon Prime Video Violent Night (2022) Universal Pictures
Who said Santa had to be nice? In Violent Night, Saint Nick (David Harbour) loses his Christmas spirit and seeks solace at the bottom of a beer glass. When Santa arrives at a wealthy estate, he learns that a team of mercenaries is holding a family hostage. The mercenaries are referred to by Christmas code names, with their leader named Mr. Scrooge (John Leguizamo). One of the hostages is Trudy (Leah Brady), a young girl who still believes in Santa.
What the hostages didn’t prepare for is Santa Claus, who fights back by any means necessary, even if it involves killing the mercenaries. Directed by Tommy Wirkola, Violent Night is an entertaining Christmas action film for an older crowd. Make sure the kids are asleep before putting this on.
Stream Violent Night on Prime Video.
Moneyball (2011) | Official HD Trailer
One of the great sports movies ever made, Moneyball tells the story of Billy Beane’s decision to reinvent baseball by relying on analytics instead of tried and true scouting reports. While that may sound like a dry story, it turns into the ultimate underdog tale as Beane’s Oakland A’s go on a remarkable 20-game win streak in spite of the fact that they have basically no major stars.
Thanks to some sharp filmmaking, the single greatest performance of Brad Pitt‘s career, and an Aaron Sorkin script, Moneyball is a sports movie about what it means to love baseball, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold.
Moneyball is streaming on Prime Video.
Hulu Little Women (2019)
LITTLE WOMEN – Official Trailer (HD)
Little Women is technically a movie that takes place at a number of different times of the year, but few movies have a more autumnal, Thanksgiving-type vibe. The 2019 adaptation of this era-defining novel follows the four March sisters as they grow up and become young adults.
In jumping around in the timeline, though, director Greta Gerwig creates some astonishing parallels that are only hinted at in most other adaptations. Thanks to a stellar ensemble cast that includes Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Timothée Chalamet, Gerwig’s adaptation may be the best one out there, and it will leave you feeling deeply grateful for the family you have.
Little Women is streaming on Hulu.
Theater Camp (2023)
A mockumentary about a theater camp going through a crisis, Theater Camp is a perfect combination of cynically funny and almost surprisingly heartfelt. Featuring a great cast that includes Molly Ball, Ben Platt, The Bear‘s Ayo Edebiri, and Jimmy Tatro, Theater Camp is about the incredibly dramatic way that theater kids and theater adults behave, especially when they’re around one another.
More importantly, though, Theater Camp is about how important it is to create a space for these kids to find one another, be dramatic and loud, and sing their hearts out together.
Theatre Camp is streaming on Hulu.
Rye Lane (2023)
RYE LANE | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures
A sharply directed, succinct rom-com from a first-time director, Rye Lane follows a man getting over a recent breakup who meets a woman who may be a new connection. Set in contemporary London, Rye Lane has a sharp script, and two deeply compelling performances from its leads, David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah.
Of course, conflict inevitably emerges between them, but Rye Lane is smart about the real issues its two leads have, both with one another and in general, and Rye Lane manages to feel like it’s about two real people. It’s the kind of movie we don’t get enough of anymore, and that’s part of what makes it so incredibly charming.
Rye Lane is streaming on Hulu.
The Worst Person in the World (2022)
The Worst Person In The World Teaser Trailer (2021) | Movieclips Indie
A deeply charming, slightly existential rom-com from Denmark, The Worst Person in the World follows a young woman who is just trying to navigate through life’s many challenges and decide who she is going to be. She’s not really the worst person in the world, but like many people in their late 20s, she sometimes feels like it.
The Worst Person in the World is charming, world-weary, and is anchored by a remarkable central performance from Renate Reinsve. Few movies have more immaculate vibes, and if you’re looking for an artier film that wears its heart on its sleeve, The Worst Person in the World is the perfect place to start.
The Worst Person in the World is streaming on Hulu.
Max (formerly HBO Max) Jack Frost (1998) Warner Bros.
You’ve never seen Jack Frost like this before. Before becoming a snowman, Jack Frost (Batman’s Michael Keaton) was a musician and band leader for The Jack Frost Band. Jack is on the precipice of achieving stardom, but his sacrifices have led to declining relationships with his wife, Gabby (Kelly Preston), and 11-year-old son, Charlie (Joseph Cross).
For Christmas, Jack finally puts his family first and leaves a gig to be with his wife and son, but he crashes his car in a blizzard on the way home and dies. One year later, Jack is resurrected as a snowman after Charlie plays a magical harmonica. It’s not how he drew it up, but Jack gets a second chance to be the father his son deserves. That is if the cold weather keeps him from melting.
Watch Jack Frost on Max.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) Paramount Pictures
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. However, many of us will have dessert on Thanksgiving night, and there’s no better place to indulge our sweet tooth than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) is a poor boy who dreams of finding one of the five golden tickets inside a chocolate bar wrapper. A golden ticket wins a lifetime supply of chocolate and admission into Willy Wonka’s factory.
As fate would have it, Charlie finds the final ticket and heads to the factory with Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson). Inside, Charlie meets Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) and explores his magical factory. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a delightful family movie that will bring out the dreamer inside all of us. And fans of this film should make sure to check out Timothée Chalamet as the iconic candymaker in Wonka this December.
Watch Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on Max.
Elf (2003) New Line Cinema
Elf remains one of the best Christmas movies of all time. There’s no better time to watch it than now as Elf celebrates its 20th anniversary. Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the Elf, a human raised by Santa’s elves in the North Pole. Now an adult, Buddy realizes he does not fit in with the other elves because of his large stature and toymaking deficiencies.
Looking for answers, Buddy heads to New York City to find his biological father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a selfish businessman who finds himself on the Naughty List. Upon reuniting with his father, Buddy uses unorthodox methods – making spaghetti with syrup and cutting down a tree in Central Park – to bring some holiday cheer to Walter and his family.
Watch Elf on Max.
Krisha (2015) A24
For those looking for a heartwarming Thanksgiving story, Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha does not satisfy that criteria. If you’re willing to give Krisha a chance, you’ll be rewarded with a harrowing and effective look into how a family deals with an estranged member with a history of addiction. How much compassion should be shown before moving on?
Aunt Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) has battled drug and alcohol addiction for years, leading to a fractured relationship with her family, including her son, Trey (Trey Edward Shults). Promising she’s sober, Krisha wants to join her family on Thanksgiving and cook dinner for them. It’s an awkward reunion for Trisha upon her arrival, with many family members unsure how to act around her. Even though you can guess how the story will end for Krisha, that doesn’t make it any easier to watch a heartbreaking portrayal of a woman who can’t escape her demons.
Stream Krisha on Max.
Wonder Woman (2017)
A movie that had sky-high expectations and undoubtedly met them, Wonder Woman felt genuinely revolutionary when it was first released in 2017. The film, which is set during World War II and follows its titular character as she leaves the world of the Amazons and discovers the terrors of the real world, is buoyed in large part by the excellent chemistry between leads Gal Gadot and Chris Pine.
It may be leaden down with a fairly conventional third act, but Wonder Woman is a pretty unmitigated triumph, not just because of what it meant for little girls to get a superhero of their own, but because the movie is genuinely great. (For related content, check out who should be the next Wonder Woman?)
Wonder Woman is streaming on Max.
Pleasantville (1998) New Line Cinema
For the most part, Pleasantville is the only film on our list that’s suitable for family viewing. Before he went on to star in Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire headlined this film as David, with Reese Witherspoon as his sister, Jennifer. One day, the wildly different siblings find themselves transported to the world of a classic black-and-white TV sitcom, Pleasantville, where everyone thinks that they are Bud and Mary Sue, the children of George (William H. Macy) and Betty Parker (Joan Allen).
Since David was already a fan of the show, he fits right in. However, Jennifer has some very modern ideas that she introduces to the town of Pleasantville, which results in some of the residents and locations shifting from black and white to color. This brings out an uglier side of the town, as the black and white citizens turn on the colored people and the ensuing conflict threatens to tear Pleasantville apart.
Watch Pleasantville on Max.
The Ice Storm (1997)
The Ice Storm is a well-acted and beautifully shot film by director Ang Lee that may be appropriate for teenage children, but definitely not for anyone pre-teen. The story is actually set during Thanksgiving in 1973, as two families, the Hoods and the Carvers, spend the holiday weekend together. Elena Hood (Joan Allen) and Jim Carver (Jamey Sheridan) are also unaware that their respective spouses, Ben Hood (Kevin Kline) and Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver), are having an affair.
Some of that spirit appears to have passed on to their kids, as Wendy Hood (Wednesday‘s Christina Ricci) seems to enjoy sexually charged games with Mikey (Elijah Wood) and Sandy Carver (Adam Hann-Byrd). Meanwhile, Wendy’s brother, Paul Hood (Tobey Maguire), is also hopelessly in love with Libbets Casey (Katie Holmes), a girl who may not reciprocate his feelings. Over the course of the weekend, both the Carver and the Hood families are forced to face some uncomfortable truths about themselves. And that’s just the beginning of their trials.
Watch The Ice Storm on Max.
Tubi ThanksKilling (2007) In Broad Daylight Films
In the low-budget movie ThanksKilling, a group of college friends decide to head home for Thanksgiving break. But when their car breaks down in the woods, the friends find themselves fighting for their lives against a maniacal and deadly turkey. Raunchy, perverse, and wisecracking, the killer turkey is an incredibly likable villain that you spend most of the movie rooting for.
Despite its low-budget origins, ThanksKilling was a hit at horror film festivals thanks to its absurd and campy humor. It later went on to be very successful in the DVD market and eventually spawned two sequels. In 2014, ThanksKilling was even adapted into a musical that played off-Broadway and in select cities around the country. For a tiny, low-budget horror movie, ThanksKilling has had one hell of a legacy, and it’s all thanks to its surprisingly enjoyable premise and nefariously fowl lead.
ThanksKilling is streaming on Tubi.
Pieces of April (2003)
Anyone who knows the stress of hosting one’s family for Thanksgiving, and having to cook an entire meal for them while they silently judge you, will relate a lot to April, the lead character in Peter Hedges’ modern holiday classic, Pieces of April. April has invited her suburban family over for Thanksgiving in her tiny New York City apartment, and she has to balance numerous crises — a violent ex-boyfriend, a terminally ill mother — all the while making a perfect meal to please her tough-to-please family.
Pieces of April deftly handles both comedy and drama with aplomb, with Katie Holmes giving her best performance of her career as the headstrong but vulnerable April. Equally great is Patricia Clarkson as April’s mother Joy, who doesn’t let breast cancer and a bad wig get in the way of her silent disapproval of her daughter’s life choices.
Pieces of April is streaming on Tubi.
YouTube The Firm (1993)
The Firm (1993) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Featuring a non-action movie Tom Cruise at the height of his stardom, The Firm follows a young lawyer who joins a high-powered firm only to discover that most of their clients are actually in the mob. From there, an entire vast conspiracy unfolds as Cruise’s lawyer attempts to take down his employers.
It’s an over-the-top ’90s blockbuster that features a cast absolutely stuffed with great actors, including Holly Hunter, Gene Hackman, Wilford Brimley, and what feels like a dozen others. The Firm might not be the most serious movie ever made, but that’s part of the fun of watching its many twists and turns as they unfold.
The Firm is streaming for free on YouTube.