10. Son in Law (1993)
Is it “outrageously funny”? No. Is Pauly Shore’s Crawl character a bit grating? Yes. However, it does deal with coming home for Thanksgiving from the big city, and having changed as a person (into awful ’90s fashion). It’s the perfect example of a “movie to wash dishes by.”
Best Scene: Crawl mowing his name into the corn field.
9. The House of Yes (1997)
Oh, Parker Posey, how I love thee. Only you can pull off a Jackie O-obsessed, incestuous nutcase. I know Thanksgiving is a time when family members fight, but murder? What a silly little goose you are.
8. Pieces of April (2003)
This is great little film. In its own way, it highlights the trials and tribulations of holiday gatherings, from trying to make a good impression on your SO’s parents, to making your first big dinner as a young adult. Oh, and smoking pot. Lots of smoking pot.
Best Scene: Remembering “nice” April moments
7. Grumpy Old Men (1993)
This movie, about, well, grumpy old men, was great on a couple of levels. One, it was super funny with wonderful performances by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Two, it introduced extremely impressionable 13-year-old me to Ann-Margret (and Sophia Loren in the sequel). I am forevermore a firm believer that women get better with age. So, thanks for that.
6. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
One of Woody Allen’s top 10 films, the story is bookended by Thanksgiving dinners and is a nice remembrance of Woody and Mia Farrow pre-Soon-Yi. Now that’s a Thanksgiving to be a fly on the wall.
Best Scene: The failed suicide
5. The Ice Storm (1997)
What a beautiful, haunting film. It is the film that taught us that if you attend a Thanksgiving weekend party that has a bowl for keys, be prepared to get freaky.
4. Scent of a Woman (1992)
The movie, which takes place over Thanksgiving weekend (like The Ice Storm) was responsible for Al “Hoo-ah!” Pacino’s first Academy Award for Best Actor (he had been nominated four times before).
3. Dutch (1991)
John Hughes was the master of the feels, no doubt about it. When Dutch (Ed O’Neill) volunteers to drive his girlfriend’s boarding school brat Doyle (Ethan Embry) home for Thanksgiving, it seems harmless enough. However, what ensues is a fireworks-blasting, prostitute-thieving road trip that ultimately proves to Doyle that not all adults are idiots or assholes like his father.
Best Scene: Dutch setting off fireworks
2. Home for the Holidays (1995)
A seriously underrated movie directed by Jodie Foster with terrific performances by Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, and a Polaroid-snapping Robert Downey Jr. If you haven’t seen it, I implore you to immediately.
1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Again, John Hughes with the feels. This is without a doubt not only the best Thanksgiving themed movie of all time, but one of the greatest comedies of all time.