Five Thanksgiving movies to check out before the holiday season

By Farah Bassyouni Nov 4, 2022

It’s been less than a week since Halloween and a number of people have already asked me about my favorite holiday movies. It seems like many completely skip over the severely underappreciated genre of Thanksgiving movies.

Here are my top five movies to bridge the gap between Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas season.

“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”

“Isn’t it peculiar, Charlie Brown, how some traditions just slowly fade away?” Lucy asks this question within the first five minutes of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” and it reflects my experience with the Peanuts characters. 

When I grew up I watched the Charlie Brown holiday specials every time they came on cable TV. I don’t remember when, but at some point, that tradition just ended. This year, I revisited “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” the day after Halloween.
I was surprised by the emotional maturity of this short. Marcie’s words towards the end of this film stuck with me: “We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by ‘Thanksgiving’ Charlie Brown.”

“Rocky”

“Rocky” spans multiple holidays– the film starts on November 25 and ends on New Years Day. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie occurs when Rocky’s best friend throws his sister Adrien’s Thanksgiving turkey out the door.

While the Thanksgiving shown in “Rocky” isn’t a positive one, the rest of the movie is sure to lift your spirits. “Rocky” is a story about an underdog boxer that gets a chance in the spotlight. His tenacity and drive throughout the film is sure to leave you inspired.

“Prisoners”

What if you were tasked to watch your younger siblings on Thanksgiving and failed so miserably that they were both kidnapped? That’s the question that esteemed director Denis Villeneuve explores in his 2013 classic “Prisoners.”

The film is a tense mystery that’s sure to keep you guessing for its entire 153-minute runtime. Led by stellar performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman, “Prisoners” captures the lengths we go to in order to protect our family.

“Krisha”

“Krisha” is an extremely personal movie. Writer and director Trey Edward Shults filmed this movie at his mother’s house with a cast almost entirely made up of members of his real family.

The film follows the titular “Krisha” when she reunites with her family for Thanksgiving and struggles with her fight against alcoholism. Shults wrote the movie about his cousin, an addict who relapsed at a family reunion and died shortly after.

The emotions in this movie are raw. The genuine pain felt by the actors and characters in the film is always present and it makes the audience feel real sympathy for them.

“The Humans”

“The Humans” was one of my most anticipated releases last fall and it lived up to my expectations. Based on his one-act play of the same name, writer and director Stephen Karam captures all of the dynamics of a dysfunctional family perfectly.

The film discusses themes of depression, anxiety and unresolved trauma in a tense family setting. “The Humans” is relatable in difficult ways and genuinely upset me the first time I watched it. 

That said, the film is meant to be upsetting. It’s meant to bring up all of the issues that so many families tiptoe around when they’re together. I encourage everyone to watch “The Humans” and experience all of the highs and lows of a family reunion for yourself.

 

Whether you’re looking to reinvigorate childhood nostalgia with a classic cartoon or become engrossed in an emotional family drama, there’s something on this list for you. The Christmas movie craze is sure to take hold in no time at all, but in the meantime, I recommend checking out these Thanksgiving gems.

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