Culture

Thanksgiving on Film: The Good, the Awkward, the Hungry

Inspired by the, ah, touching prayer of grace said by Christina Ricci in the Thanksgiving dinner scene in “The Ice Storm,” based on the book by Rick Moody, here are the movies we return to year in and year out that make us thankful for what we have – and what we don’t have. From the tense and awkward, to the hilarious and heartbreaking, to the epitome of classic, our favorite Thanksgiving moments in film are best enjoyed the day after the feast on a stomach filled with a leftover-turkey sandwich with gravy, stuffing, and a slice of cranberry sauce.

“The Ice Storm” (1997)
Wendy Hood (Christina Ricci) leaves dad Ben (Kevin Kline) regretting his request that the angst-y young woman say grace. Curious about what critic A.O. Scott thinks of “The Ice Storm”? Click here.

“Home for the Holidays” (1995)
Siblings Claudia (Holly Hunter) and Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.) get what they bargained for when agreeing to head home to Baltimore for the holidays.

“Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (1987)
When Neal (Steve Martin) and Del (John Candy) end up in the same, er, boat as they try to race home in time for Thanksgiving, chaos ensues. The touching scene at the end, though, makes the entire journey worth it for the pair – and leaves us feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, which is exactly what the best holidays are meant to do.

“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)
The classic of all classics begins with young Susan Walker (Natalie Wood) gazing down upon the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and takes us through the true spirit of Christmas – proving that there is, indeed, a Santa Claus.

“Scent of a Woman” (1992)
Guess who’s coming to dinner! Estranged Uncle Frank (Al Pacino), of course. From misremembered names to inappropriately affectionate embraces, topped off with a mid-supper scuffle, Pacino wears the crown of awkward holiday moments.

“Alice’s Restaurant” (1969)
Arlo Guthrie turns his song “Alice’s Restaurant” into a feature-length movie. Everything’s groovy until table scraps and too much trash cause the gang a bit of trouble.

“Pieces of April” (2003)
Katie Holmes dyes her hair red and becomes April Burns, wayward, NYC-living, rebel daughter who, in a rare turn of tenderheartedness, invites her family to her tiny apartment for Thanksgiving. Disaster waiting to happen? You bet. Be thankful this Thanksgiving that your turkey’s not hit the floor.

“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (1973)
What do you get when you combine Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Thanksgiving, and the rest of the Peanuts gang? A classic – that’s what!

“The House of Yes” (1997)
Parker Posey does what she does best in this late-‘90s film about obsession and family. When brother Marty (Josh Hamilton) brings home his fiancée (Tori Spelling) for Thanksgiving, sis Jackie’s (Posey) weird gets weirder. Can you say “awkward”?

“Nobody’s Fool” (1994)
Based on the novel by Richard Russo, Sully Sullivan (Paul Newman) begins to see a shift in his life when he’s granted an impromptu holiday family reunion. Bruce Willis, Jessica Tandy, and Melanie Griffith also star.

Have we missed anything? Tell us below!

  • The Myth of Fingerprints is a great Thanksgiving movie!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRk62dHasFA

    And another one (which actually is a lot like Myth of Fingerprints) is Dan in Real Life.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SqaWEBSd4g

  • Mick

    Dan in Real Life is a super suggestion. Feel good but cut by Carell and Binoche's performances. Myth of Fingerprints hit me as solid but not quite up to, say, The Ice Storm or Nobody's Fool or others in the familial coming-together space...I think it was that the dude from ER (Noah...) was one of the leads. Good actor but he was *so* ER and EaRnest. Couldn't remove one from the other...just me.