Thanksgiving is a time to stuff our faces, make memories with family, and prep for all our holiday shopping… but it’s also a great excuse to catch a new movie at the theater. With critically acclaimed movies like The Menu and The Glass Onion coming out this Thanksgiving, it’s caused me to reflect on past Thanksgiving releases. Since there’s no such thing as a “Thanksgiving movie,” I figured I would share my list of iconic movies released on Thanksgiving to inspire your watchlist for the holiday.
Knives Out (2019)
One of the twistiest murder mysteries to come out in recent years, Knives Out was a smashing success at the box office, and the perfect dose of family dysfunction for the holidays. The film is about the starkly colored Thrombey family and the investigation to solve the murder of the family patriarch, Harlan Thrombey. Harlan’s nurse, Marta Cabrera, is caught in the middle of the investigation and must juggle the family’s mess while protecting her own secrets. This film was the highlight of my Thanksgiving in 2019.
Before 2015, fans were confident that the Rocky franchise had finally ended with its last installment, but they were sorely mistaken. Writer/director Ryan Coogler revived the franchise with his fresh take, Creed. The film follows Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky’s original nemesis. Adonis enlists Rocky as his mentor, training for the biggest fight of his career. The holidays thrive on nostalgia which made Creed the perfect movie selection for Thanksgiving. It was an excellently crafted story with plenty of homages to the original franchise.
Disney owns the holidays, from movies to merchandise to amusement park experiences. Yet even with Disney’s reputation, no one predicted the massive hit Frozen would become. As you are probably familiar with, the film is about Anna of Arendale searching for her sister, Elsa, to reverse the frozen curse on their land. It’s a story about liberation, false expectations, and the bond of sisterhood. The winter aesthetic matched well with its Thanksgiving release date, attracting herds of families eager for post-food-coma activities.
The King’s Speech (2010)
If you’re one of the few people who believe British people are real and don’t feel threatened by their accents, then you’ll probably be a fan of The King’s Speech. Following Prince Albert and his ascension to becoming King George VI, the film is an inspirational story about overcoming fears and adapting to wild circumstances. Not only is the film a fascinating historical retelling, but it sheds light on the humanity of the royal family. Nothing says “Thanksgiving” like a British period piece.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop doesn’t technically qualify for this list because it was released in January, but it is the only film on this list actually set during Thanksgiving. The film is about a mall cop named Paul Blart (shocker) looking for love. When his daughter and crush get trapped in the mall on black Friday during an armed robbery, it’s up to Blart to defeat the robbers, save his daughter, and get the girl. This is by far Kevin James’s most iconic performance and should be listed as one of the greatest (if not only) Thanksgiving movies.
While the Thanksgiving movie market is sparse, there are various films to get us through the food coma and the family drama. These Thanksgiving releases all have a special place in my heart, so I hope this list was a source of inspiration for your holiday weekend.