Thanksgiving is the ideal occasion to unwind, indulge, and enjoy movies with loved ones. Therefore, for your inevitable movie marathon, we have curated a selection of comedies, dramas, and thrillers to keep you and your family entertained. With so many fantastic Thanksgiving films to pick from, the ones on this list are guaranteed to bring you joy and tears through empathy and compassion. These films will serve as a mirror to your daily life and lighten the mood of the holidays, whether they bring back memories of your own family, your in-laws, or your friends.
The top 15 movies that you should watch this holiday season are listed in no particular order. Though they don't all revolve around Thanksgiving as a theme, they do involve family and chosen family. Some of them will make you think of the dysfunctional family you may be trying to avoid (The Temptations and Soul Food), the political arguments that everyone can't help but talk about (The Oath and Remember the Titans), or the chaos that has been created in your chosen family (Dreamgirls and Friendsgiving). Whichever movie you choose, you'll be able to appreciate the various families that are reflected throughout the list.
15 Movies To Watch on Thanksgiving That Focus on Family & Chosen Family Dynamics
Soul Food (1997)
What a crazy, dysfunctional family the Josephs are. From the opening scene to the rolling credits of the movie Soul Food, this family screams "red flag" brightly and boldly during the holidays. Yet, we can't help but watch their madness. Every Sunday, the family gathers for dinner adorned with soul food and inevitable family antics. However, the Joseph family experiences turmoil when "Big Mama" Joseph (Irma P. Hall), the family's matriarch, goes into a coma following a diabetic episode and limb amputation procedure.
From there, Ahmad (Brandon Hammond) observes his mother, Maxine (Vivica A. Fox), aunts Teri (Vanessa Williams) and Bird (Nia Long), and other family members as they attempt to keep up with the long-standing custom of Sunday dinners while falling back on old grudges, family rivalries, and a possible life without "Big Mama."
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
I'll give you one guess, but it's not Morgan Freeman, I promise. In a way, the 1967 romantic comedy Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was both ahead of its time and right on time. The renowned Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton portray an interracial couple who want to be married far too soon in this once-controversial romantic comedy classic. Joey Drayton brings her fiancé, the exceptionally talented Dr. John Prentice, back to her parents' house following a Hawaiian vacation. However, the sole issue is that Joey is white, and John is Black.
Their parents are taken aback to learn that their children plan to marry someone of a different race when they get to dinner. Consequently, the families discuss the challenges surrounding their son and daughter's nuptials and how they can possibly disband it.
The Wiz (1978)
Diana Ross. Michael Jackson. Mabel King. Richard Pryor. Nipsey Russell. Lena Horne. Ted Ross. All in one musical. That’s it. That’s the selling point. Those names alone should be a good enough reason for you to ease on down that yellow brick road. You’re welcome.
The Oath (2018)
The Oath captures just how frustrating it is to realize that you and your family have become so distant since your previous visit, just as you are going home for the holidays. And your family just won't stop talking about politics, even if there's an unwritten taboo about it. Your elderly uncle is bringing up something offensive with pride. The things your grandma is saying are inappropriate or no longer relevant in your culture. Your mom and dad are always discussing the wrong side of politics. Furthermore, your aunt won't stop talking about the candidates she supported and how America is rapidly going to hell in a handbasket. It's a mess. A hot mess, and it doesn't appear to be getting easier anytime soon.
This film depicts what happens when a family is so devoted to the past that they allow it to ruin the present. Chris and Kai (Tiffany Haddish) promise in the oath not to swear allegiance to the U.S. in exchange for tax breaks. Black Friday is the deadline, and it's a politically fraught Chris who pours over the news of The Oath while concentrating on getting through the holiday with his family. Nevertheless, when the police arrive the day after Thanksgiving, the family finds that they have to make a decision on how to keep their family safe and avoid going to jail.
Black Nativity (2013)
Although this is a Christmas movie, as you and I both know, very few people have watched it, and it hasn't even been a part of our holiday traditions. This movie is the awkward in-between, much like Thanksgiving, unlike Home Alone or This Christmas. But it doesn't mean it's not entertaining to watch. Black Nativity, which stars Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker among its star-studded ensemble, centers on Langston, a teenage boy from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he visits New York City to celebrate Christmas with his estranged cousins, the Rev. Cornell Cobbs and his wife Aretha.
Langston quickly discovers, although, that Cobbs has severe guidelines, and he refuses to abide by them. Rather, he embarks on a voyage of return to his mother, discovering the significance of religion, healing, and family in the process.
The Temptations (1998)
Say it with me: "Ain't nobody coming to see you, Otis." And in a way, he is right, we’re all here for The Temptations. Even though it's dreadful, the tale of the original The Temptations is worth knowing, especially if you're with family. Why? Well, because The Temptations were a family unto itself and, prior to their notoriety, a fraternity that encouraged one another to pursue their own goals. They were the band that was Motown's greatest success story; they went on to become platinum-selling vocalists and had the whole world in the palm of their hands. However, a cocktail of conceit, cocaine addiction, and strained relationships ultimately brought them to an end.
With this four-hour miniseries, it’s easy for families to understand what happens when they stop considering one another and begin living selfishly for themselves.
Four Brothers (2005)
To put it plainly, this film shouldn't work. The casting director chose two musicians (Tyrese Gibson and André 3000), an actor who was not well known (Garrett Hedlund), and Marky Mark, who was a combination of the two but on the well-known side of things. With a cast like that, Four Brothers just shouldn't work, but strangely enough, it does. This film is all you could ask for in a Thanksgiving movie since it depicts the lengths individuals can go to in order to show an unconditional act of love. These foster brothers come home to seek justice—pardon, retribution—for their mother's murder after learning of her death. Local police are pursuing them throughout this time as they are aware that they are going home for more than just a funeral.
Is this the best film you have ever watched? Not at all? However, it's amusing, and you will be pleased to watch people relate to each other so well, even if they have to commit several crimes to do so.
Black Friday (2021)
Black Friday is, in my opinion, the Seinfeld of films. The film is enjoyable even though it doesn't really have a purpose—everything simply happens as they go about their ordinary lives. In the film Black Friday, the action takes place on Thanksgiving night, when irate workers at toy stores reluctantly show up for work in order to open the store at midnight on the largest shopping day of the year. The narrative abruptly changes course as a meteor carrying an extraterrestrial parasite hits Earth.
This gang of outcasts, led by longstanding employee Ken and store manager Jonathan, eventually find themselves in conflict with throngs of Black Friday consumers who have been transformed into hideous beasts determined to go on a deadly spree.
Knives Out (2019)
It is easy to gripe about family members around the holidays and even threaten to murder them if they have irritated you too much. However, it is rarely carried out or genuinely intended. In Knives Out, this is a different story. In this film, the very problematic Thrombey family comes under suspicion when it is discovered that crime author and family member Harlan Thrombey's death was caused by unexplained circumstances. To find the truth, renowned detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) must sort through a maze of falsehoods and red herrings in this dark comedy.
Finding the ideal harmony between dark comedy, drama, and humor, this movie is an excellent choice for a family viewing experience.
Friendsgiving: I'm not sure who came up with the phrase, but my entire soul yearns to give Leslie Knope, the legendary character from Parks and Rec, all the credit. Leslie emphasizes the value and beauty of friendships in her Friendsgivings, demonstrating how the holiday is an excellent alternative to the custom of spending the day with close and extended family, which is sometimes draining and toxic. However, in spite of its lovely idea, this Friendsgiving is not that.
Friendsgiving, also called Dinner With Friends, demonstrates how sometimes the family we choose may be just as offensive as the family we were born into. Molly and Abbey (Malin Åkerman and Kat Dennings), together with their group of close friends, throw a dysfunctional and chaotic Thanksgiving meal in this comedy from 2020. Demonstrating how even the family we choose may occasionally be questionable and blatantly obnoxious.
Chicken Run (2000)
Unexpectedly, this film still holds up. I recall thinking this movie was the oddest thing I had ever seen or experienced when I watched it for the first time as a child. The jokes were beyond me. I was unaware that it made a communist allusion and missed all the innuendos. Thus, the sheer brilliance of this film delighted me greatly when I saw it as an adult. The narrative of Chicken Run centers on a group of hens destined for a life of egg-laying on a Yorkshire farm. The hens believe a flashy American rooster is capable of showing them how to fly to freedom.
August Osage County (2013)
What a disaster this family is.
There is a cruel mom who is hooked to prescription drugs. A daughter who is addicted to being anywhere else. The lovebird cousins. A father who has suddenly vanished and a strained couple who no longer understand one another. This movie is exactly how I see a horrible Thanksgiving going. A toxic, codependent, manipulative family forced to survive time together without murdering one another. In the beginning, you sympathize with the characters, but around halfway through, you start to think that maybe they deserve each other. It's a comedy about tragedy and how terrible it can get. That being said, this is advantageous for those who become irritated with their own families quickly during holidays. After all, you will have a greater appreciation for your family after witnessing the devastation that this one brings to one another.
Remember the Titans (2000)
Na na na na na na na na hey, hey, hey, goodbye...
I can't exactly say what it is about Remember the Titans that makes it so special. It could be the brotherhood Gerry and Julius have for one another. It could be the fierceness and compassion Denzel Washington brings to Coach Boone. It could be the hilarity brought by singing "Sunshine" in a high-pitched voice. It could be the genuine smiles created from hearing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" being sung by big football players. It could even be that it is based on a true story.
Whatever the case may be, this film is unique and ideal for the Thanksgiving holiday because it exemplifies the beauty that arises from putting aside differences and embracing your chosen family. This film explores the importance of human connection. A breath of fresh air, this masterpiece shows individuals truly choosing to love one another unconditionally, in spite of their differences and upbringings.
Left side. Strong side.
I was forced to listen to the school choir sing several arrangements of "Family" from this musical during my whole time in high school. They played it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other occasion when they needed to jog our memories that we were a family and not just a group of people compelled to know one another by virtue of our shared school zone and residential communities. And although that was a nice message to deliver, I think they completely misunderstood it. It was comical how the group first used this song to manipulate listeners by singing about being a family before betraying their, let's face it, somewhat conceited and demanding friend.
This musical is ideal for the occasion since it depicts the dysfunction that our chosen families may also create in us, particularly if we are unable to learn how to properly connect with one another. This family is turbulent and frequently causes harm to one another for sport, but in the end, they demonstrate how, with time and when we put our egos aside and realize that we are family, we can find our way back to one another and support one another no matter what. Plus, who wouldn't want to hear Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé give performances of a lifetime?
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a superbly written and beautifully animated movie that addresses the issue of greed. Following twelve years of idyllic bliss, Mr. Fox betrays his wife by raiding the fields owned by Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, their human neighbors. His marriage, his family's life, and the lives of his animal companions are all at risk when he gives in to his primal cravings. Mr. Fox must use his innate cunning abilities to overcome the farmers attempting to drive him and his group deep below.
This movie is ideal for the occasion since it emphasizes the importance of contentment and gratitude for what you already have rather than always yearning for more. This film ultimately demonstrates that you will never be content if your wants exceed what you now have.
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Taysha Robinson is a writer and high school English teacher, based in metro-Atlanta. A self described philomath, you can find her reading books and articles of every genre, attending educational conferences, and hiking wherever the terrain will allow.
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
The 75th Emmy Awards occurred last night at the Peacock Theater at L.A. Live and was hosted by Anthony Anderson. All the stars, from Issa Rae to Taraji P. Henson, flocked to the illustrious ceremony and enjoyed a night of laughs and riveting moments that took place. One moment that lit up social media was the Martin reunion. The beloved '90s show, headed by Martin Lawrence, became a staple in many households and can be considered one of the best sitcoms in history. Tisha Campbell, Tichina Arnold, and Carl Anthony Payne II joined Martin onstage of a replica of the Martin set and poked fun at the Emmys and never being nominated. They even had a photo of Thomas Mikal Ford, who played Tommy, on the coffee table. Thomas passed away in 2016 from a ruptured aneurysm in his abdomen.
But that was just one of the memorable bits that happened. Some of our favorite Black actresses won big last night and gave us all the feels.
Big congratulations to Quinta Brunson after she became the first Black woman since 1981 to win the award for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The Abbott Elementary creator and actress was very emotional while accepting her award and admitted she hadn't prepared a speech. "Thank you so much. I love making Abbott Elementary so much, and I'm so happy to be able to live my dream and act out comedy," she said.
Niecy Nash-Betts gave a powerful acceptance speech after winning the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. The actress played Glenda Cleveland in Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. "You know who I wanna thank, I wanna thank me, for believing in me and doing what they said I could not do, and I want to say to myself in front of all you beautiful. 'Go on, girl, with yo bad self. You did that,"' she cheered.
Finally, I accept this award on behalf of every Black and brown woman who has gone unheard yet over-policed like Glenda Cleveland, like Sandra Bland, like Breonna Taylor. As an artist, my job is to speak true to power, and baby I'mma do it til the day I die."
Coming off the heels of winning a Golden Globe for her role in The Bear, Ayo Edebiri can now add an Emmy to her collection. The actress won in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category and thanked her parents. "This is a show about found family and real family, and my parents are here tonight," she said. "I'm making them sit kind of far away from me because I'm a bad kid. But I love you so much. Thank you so much for loving me and letting me feel beautiful and Black and proud of all of that. I just love you so much."
Last but not least,The Daily Show with Trevor Noah won for Outstanding Variety Talk Series, and RuPaul's Drag Race won for Outstanding Reality Competition Program.
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