Nothing goes better with a delicious turkey feast, your grandma’s world-famous green bean casserole, and a mountain of mashed potatoes than a festive movie marathon with your loved ones. Movies that celebrate the best parts of the holiday — from food to family to history to expressing gratitude, and more. And if you’ve got Netflix, here are the best movies to stream right now that highlight the themes of Thanksgiving.
To kick off the holiday season this year, Netflix fortunately has a good collection of movies to get you feeling festive. For example, if you’re looking for a funny animated film about wanting to get away from your family, check out The Willoughbys. Or if you’re looking for a rom-com to enjoy once the kids go to bed, why not watch Holidate? And if you’re looking for a heartwarming football flick, add Home Team to your watchlist.
So whether you’re traveling for the holidays, spending time with family, making a huge meal, or watching every single Friends Thanksgiving episode once again, the following movies streaming on Netflix right now highlight what makes Thanksgiving one of the best holidays around.
If you’re looking for a compelling documentary to watch this Thanksgiving, check out Gather, released in 2020. Per the documentary’s website: “Gather is an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political, and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.” This documentary tells the stories of several fascinating individuals across the nation whose narratives deserve to be told.
Watch Gather, not rated.
Learn more about Native American culture, specifically Native Americans from Canada, in this 2017 drama film starring Ajuawak Kapashesit, which is an adaptation of the 2012 novel, Indian Horseby Richard Wagamese. Set in the 1970s, Saul struggles to survive after being taken to a residential school and is subsequently stripped of his native heritage. But after fighting to fit in and deal with his new life, he finds a love of ice hockey, which helps him escape and reconnect to his heritage in his own unique way. Indian Horse is a heartfelt movie that tackles serious topics like racism and addiction. It’s a powerful reminder that the world needs to hear more indigenous stories.
Watch Indian Horse, rated TV-MA.
The worst part of the holidays is encountering relatives who are always wondering when you’re going to get married or finally bringing someone around to meet the family. But Holidate provides the perfect solution for that problem. Frustrated with being single for the holidays, two very platonic friends come up with a brilliant strategy to outsmart their nosy families — they agree to be each other’s plus-ones for every occasion, all year long. Together, they spend Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July, and yes, even Thanksgiving together, while trying to avoid the feelings that begin to develop. Starring Emma Roberts and Australian actor Luke Bracey, Holidate is the rom-com equivalent of a pumpkin spice latte — frothy, sweet, and the perfect fall treat.
Watch Holidate, rated TV-MA.
Jennifer Garner stars as an uptight mom who is about to let loose when she lets her kids have a “Yes Day.” The rules are pretty simple: for one glorious day, parents have to say yes to whatever their kids want. In one decadent scene, the whole family goes on an all-out sugar binge where they take on the challenge to eat the world’s largest bowl of ice cream and brownies and waffle cones in just 30 minutes. In other words, it’s basically what any kid would dream of for their Thanksgiving meal. Who needs turkey and stuffing when you can gorge on Rocky Road and Mint Chocolate Chip instead?
Watch Yes Day, rated PG.
Thanksgiving is a time to show your appreciation for your loved ones. But what’s a kid to do when they have parents who only seem to fawn over each other and have no leftover love to give to their very own children? Of course the only reasonable answer is to devise a diabolical plan to send these delinquent parents away on a dangerous vacation, hoping they might not come back. Enter the perfect nanny, voiced by Maya Rudolph, who co-signs the wishful claim that, of course, all nannies sing. The Willoughbys is a cinematic love letter to (redheaded) siblings. It’s also a testament to the fact that parents can sometimes be disappointing, but sisters and brothers can always rely on each other. And even if you’re an only child, this animated movie shares the optimistic message that you can also choose your family and create the one you need.
Watch The Willoughbys, rated PG.
Tyler Perry's A Madea Homecoming
Hallelujer! Tyler Perry, once again, stars as everyone’s favorite, no-nonsense matriarch Madea. In Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming, the whole family gets together to celebrate her great-grandson’s college graduation and, as you might expect with any family reunion, drama unfolds. Starring Perry, Cassi Davis-Patton, David Mann, Tamela Mann, Gabrielle Dennis, and Brendan O'Carroll, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming serves as a hilarious reminder that all families are messy and the holidays would not be complete without a little screaming.
Watch Tyler Perry's A Madea Homecoming, rated TV-MA.
Family, food, and football? That’s Thanksgiving in a nutshell. In Home Team, starring Kevin James, Taylor Lautner, Jackie Sandler, and Rob Schneider, NFL coach Sean Payton returns home to reconnect with his 12-year-old son after getting suspended for his role in a scandal. Out of a job, Sean steps in to coach his son’s struggling Pop Warner football team during his suspension from the NFL. If the plot of this family-friendly football comedy sounds familiar, it’s because Home Team is based on the true story of Sean Payton, coach of the New Orleans Saints who was suspended from the 2012 season after “Bountygate.”
Watch Home Team, rated PG.
Fatherhood, starring Kevin Hart as a widowed single dad, is definitely an emotional watch, but includes lots of lovely, heartwarming, and funny moments that will make you want to hug your loved ones a little longer this Thanksgiving. In Fatherhood, which is based the 2011 memoir Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matthew Logelin, Hart plays a grieving father, Matt, whose wife died in childbirth from a pulmonary embolism. The movie follows Matt as he struggles to raise his daughter Maddy as a single parent, but learns to accept help from his friends and fellow parents.
Watch Fatherhood, PG-13.
The Holiday Calendar
Nothing kicks off the holiday season quite like an advent calendar. In The Holiday Calendar, Gramps Sutton gifts his granddaughter Abby with an antique holiday advent calendar, but it’s no ordinary advent calendar. This family heirloom can predict the future. As Abby discovers that this advent calendar is actually magical, she follows its path that hopefully includes a little romance. The Holiday Calendar is all about family, their traditions, and of course love, making it a perfect fit for your Thanksgiving watchlist.
Watch The Holiday Calendar, rated PG.
After the pumpkin pie has been devoured and everyone in the family has expressed their gratitude, the most entertaining way to follow-up a delicious Thanksgiving dinner is definitely with some fun holiday-themed movies.
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