Movies centered around the Thanksgiving holiday are definitely harder to come by than, say, Christmas films. However, there are enough to dig up and stream in the month of November.
SNIPdaily featured writer Duane Beckett and I combed the catalogues and found the ways to access these titles. It’s a good mix of critically revered numbers and personal favorites.
We’ll trade off our top recommendations to get a jump on the best Thanksgiving movies streaming in the month of November.
Scent of a Woman (Starz via Hulu)
(Fitzgerald) After seven prior Oscar nominations, Al Pacino finally got that golden statue in his leading role as an Army Ranger who’s blind. This film co-stars a pre-Robin Chris O’Donnell as a prep school student who has to look after Pacino’s Lt. Col. Frank Slade as a temporary job over Thanksgiving.
Slade isn’t the easiest man to get along with, as he drinks heavily and declares his intentions to commit suicide when the pair are on a spontaneous trip to New York City.
For a film that follows primarily two characters for over two and a half hours, it’s remarkable how compelling the drama is. A rather straightforward setup lends to a magnificent movie. Philip Seymour Hoffman also has a supporting role. It’s hard to recall anything he’s been in that hasn’t been good.
Scent of a Woman isn’t exactly a family comedy of lighthearted Thanksgiving fare. However, if you’re feeling a little more open to a straight drama, give it a whirl. It won’t disappoint!
(Beckett) It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve watched Rocky. If it’s on, it’s on! Granted this was at a time before streaming took over my life but it’s indicative of what a great freakin’ movie it is.
Rocky’s problem is that you need to watch the sequel back-to-back for its full effect. But who has four hours to watch Sly Stallone these days? Me, that’s who! And if you’re reading this, so do you. The man is a legend!
I’m not going to regurgitate what happens, but underdog- does-good sums it up. And who doesn’t love a feel-good movie at Thanksgiving! Or at Easter, Halloween, or on a Tuesday. Sly did authentic long before social media was an itch in its daddy’s pants.
Hannah and Her Sisters (HBO Now)
(Fitzgerald) The second of writer-director-actor Woody Allen’s three Oscars for Best Original Screenplay came from this film. There’s plenty of Allen’s neurosis, trademark highbrow comedy and complicated relationships. The exceptional ensemble cast features Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Max Von Sydow and Dianne Wiest among others.
There are three distinct story arcs in this movie, and it’s all centered around Thanksgiving dinners, with three such events in total. This is about as direct a Turkey Day of a film as you’re going to find.
Hannah and Her Sisters was released in 1986, and still holds up as a classic. Allen was integral to the comedic zeitgeist at this time, so it’s definitely a different brand of humor than what’s seen in films today.
This should ultimately be available on HBO Max when it launches next year, but try to see it while you can in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Epix)
It’s alarming how many people haven’t seen Planes, Trains and Automobiles. When it came out in ’87 I was 7. By the time I was 15, I had worn out two VHS tapes of this movie. I’ve only ever done that with one other movie: The Wedding Singer. Yes, I’m a loser — but one with great movie taste.
Writer-director John Hughes was a god amongst mortals. The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck, Ferris Bueller… Reading the man’s credits is like reading someone’s Top 50 movies! And when he worked with the great John Candy, magic happened. They’ve both passed now and that sucks.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles combines Candy with Steve Martin in a buddy journey movie. If it can go wrong, it goes wrong — with real hilarity. And then it hits you: Poignancy and your heart swells two sizes. It’s that John Hughes magic.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Netflix)
(Fitzgerald) Let’s take an abrupt departure from prestige flicks and focus on a less brainy title. For all the grief he catches from critics, Kevin James actually has good physical comedy. He’s fairly athletic for his size and does some really funny stunt work for laughs.
The movie’s title tells you all you need to know. Just that job description and name are rather hilarious on its own. Yes, some of the dialogue is cheesy, and some of the humor cheap, but there’s undeniable heart to Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
Don’t go in expecting Citizen Kane. If you temper your expectations and watch with an open mind, though, you might find this movie is better than its 32 percent on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest.
Christmas with the Kranks (Netflix)
(Beckett) I love Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. I hate this movie. Not because it’s bad. But because my wife watches it from November 1st to Christmas Eve. It’s her favorite and like a loyal little lap dog (6ft 1″, 336lbs) I’ve included it here.
Tim Allen’s a funny guy. His ability to be a loveable *sshole is only matched by… No, it’s actually unmatched. Jamie Lee-Curtis is Allen’s perfect counter — she’s lovely and makes him a better person. It’s all very nice. There’s even a hint of neighborly Grumpy Old Men (another Thanksgiving movie not for streaming as of now) for good measure.
One of the reasons I can tolerable this movie over and over is because of Dan Aykroyd. Even in small doses, he makes a movie better. Definitely a top Thanksgiving movie. Especially as it reminds me of something I’m thankful for. Neighbors who don’t give a sh*t.