Why is it that most Thanksgiving movies tell such sad stories? Isn't this the holiday that comes with considerably less pressure (no gifts!) and lots of delicious food? Whatever the reason, all of that onscreen dysfunction does serve a purpose: it makes you feel better about your own nutty relatives. Here, five films to watch while avoiding IRL family drama.
Pieces of April
Since we are in the midst of a Katie Holmes resurgence, you might as well watch her criminally underrated performance as the titular character in Pieces of April, a 2003 Sundance favorite from Peter Hedges (father of Lucas Hedges). In an attempt to reconnect with her estranged family—played by Oliver Platt, Patricia Clarkson, Alison Pill, and John Gallagher Jr.—April invites her parents and siblings to travel from suburban Pennsylvania to her home on the Lower East Side for Thanksgiving dinner with her new boyfriend (played by Derek Luke), only for her oven to break just hours before they arrive.
Where to stream: Hulu
Home for the Holidays
Jodie Foster directed this dramedy about the stress of, well, going home for the holidays. Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. star as an amusing brother-sister pair, while the rest of the ensemble cast consists of Anne Bancroft, Geraldine Chaplin, Dylan McDermott, Cynthia Stevenson, and Claire Danes.
Trey Edward Shults may be in the press these days for his A24 hit Waves, but it was the 2015 film Krisha that marked his feature length directorial debut. Shults cast many of his real-life family members, including his aunt Krisha Fairchild, for the film in which a middle-aged woman returns to her estranged family's home for Thanksgiving to cook dinner for everyone, only for chaos to slowly unfold.
Where to stream: Netflix
Hope Davis plays a woman who, in one single day, enlists the help of her family to crack the case of whether or not her husband is cheating on her after she finds a love note written to him by someone else on Thanksgiving.
Where to stream: You actually have to buy this one on Criterion Collection.
The House of Yes
No, the title is not a reference to the Bushwick venue, and no, we will not apologize for including more than one Parker Posey flick on this list. The House of Yes is a cult film, based on Wendy MacLeod's play of the same name, about a man who brings his hapless fiancée (Tori Spelling) home for Thanksgiving, where she meets his brother (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and delusional twin sister (Posey) who believes she is Jackie Kennedy (Chanel pillbox hat and all).
Where to stream: Amazon