Thanksgiving Movies to Watch With the Family or Alone

Published on November 23, 2020

It’s Thanksgiving week. Time to start food shopping, stocking up on booze like you’re prepping for the apocalypse, finalizing plans, and maybe deciding which Thanksgiving movies to watch. Of course, this Thanksgiving is more melancholic than usual. Given COVID-19, state governments are urging against large family gatherings and traveling. 50 million people are expected to travel, though, heading home for the holiday. 

Stay safe, everybody. 

Whether you’re with family or alone, movies, pie, and wine are in order. It’s a tough year, so if you’re fortunate enough to enjoy a good time, truly enjoy it and consider a few Thanksgiving movies to help brighten up the holiday.

Die Hard

Watch it on Thanksgiving, then watch it again on Christmas. There’s never a bad time to watch Die Hard, only a good time. The John McTiernanBruce Willis classic is a Christmas gift that never stops giving. It’s perfect. It’s an action movie with personality, big laughs, a whip smart hero and villain, and some of the most satisfying moments in action movie history. Die Hard is a holiday classic that only builds in momentum and entertainment value. 

Elf

One of the best holiday classics to watch with the whole family. Jon Favreau’s comedy is funny for everybody. If it’s been years since you’ve seen Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf, too, you’ll laugh even harder. Elf is an all-around delight. It’s light, and nice, and genuinely heartfelt. The last time I watched Elf was on a plane, and I laughed far too loud. I recommend sharing that laughter with the family, not your fellow passengers this holiday season. 

The Ice Storm 

Now, here’s a movie not to share with the family. Ang Lee’s masterpiece period piece is an emotional punch to the gut and the brain. It’s devastating. Ang Lee being Ang Lee, though, they’re all well-orchestrated blows to the soul. There’s great humor and warmth in this exquisite family tragedy, making the pain in the film all the more painful. 

The Lodge 

Admittedly, maybe not the best horror movie to watch right now. Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s horror movie is set almost entirely in one home, a lodge. The less said about The Lodge, the better. It’s a holiday horror movie best experienced knowing nothing. Throughout The Lodge, which has a chilling and icy atmosphere, the story is always steps ahead of the audience. It’s a frighteningly dark vision of a “family” falling apart (perfect the holidays!). It’s an immersive, unsettling experience not to be forgotten. Do not watch it with the whole family. 

The Oath

Here is one of the most prescient comedies of the last few years. Not enough people talked about actor Ike Barinholtz’s directorial debut, which is about a politically divided family debating The Oath. The Oath is a piece of paper citizens are supposed to sign to pledge their allegiance… or else. It’s a movie that hits the nail on the head of these polarized times, as well as provides a ton of laughs from Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, and the rest of the cast. There’s a real sense of time and danger in this excellent comedy. Whether you’re on the right or the left or somewhere comfortable in the middle, you’ll probably laugh with The Oath.

Knives Out

Last Thanksgiving, Knives Out was the family movie. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, families wouldn’t shutup about the who-dun-it murder mystery written and directed by Rian Johnson. For good reason. The lovefest for Knives Out will never die. It’s a blast rich in character, structure, and laughs. Knives Out is a full-package movie with everything you want from a good time at the movies. 

Ocean’s 11

Like Knives Out, Ocean’s 11 is an ensemble movie that shows popcorn movies at their finest. Pure charisma, oozing out of every actor and frame. Ocean’s 11 just plays as a miracle of a movie. It’s so goddamn smooth and entertaining. All the jokes hit, all the characters are lovable, and you care. There’s an emotional investment that comes with this crime caper, featuring one of the greatest ensembles of the 21st Century. Ocean’s 11 is on Netflix, as are the delightful sequels.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles 

The John Hughes classic only gets funnier throughout the years. John Candy and Steve Martin are two comedic powerhouses that nail the humor and warmth of Hughes’ iconic writing. The duo play one of the all-time great odd couples, stuck together as they try to get home for Thanksgiving. Planes, Trains and Automobiles — a comedy in which almost everything goes wrong — feels particularly right to revisit in 2020.

At Grit Daily, we hope you enjoy these Thanksgiving movies and enjoy yourselves.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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