Jennifer M. Wood
Before there was Disney+ or Netflix, Blu-ray or DVD, YouTube or HBO, VHS or Betamax, or even basic cable television, families and friends looking to sprawl out on every available couch, chair, and inch of floor space to watch a movie as they digested their Thanksgiving dinner were fairly limited in their “What should we watch?” choices. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. But instead of spending an hour considering your thousands of options (haven’t there been enough arguments today?), go straight to “play” with any one of these post-pumpkin pie movie picks. They’re sure to satisfy the crowd—with a couple of fun games thrown in to keep the holiday moving.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
If you’re one of the 12 people in this world who hasn’t seen Avengers: Endgame (the movie didn’t make just shy of $2.8 billion worldwide from lack of ticket-buyers), a lazy and long holiday weekend is the perfect time to right that wrong. Or make a marathon out of this one, too: from Iron Man to Captain Marvel and everything in between, there’s enough MCU content to take you through to the new year.
Look for: If you start from the beginning, take a look at how disheveled Captain America looks following the Battle of New York in The Avengers (2012) vs. what he looks like in Endgame’s flashbacks to that battle.
Where to stream: Disney+
The Oath (2018)
Ike Barinholtz writes, directs, and stars in The Oath, a timely satire that plays upon the idea of never talking politics at Thanksgiving. When a controversial new law arises that requires American citizens to sign a pledge of loyalty to the president in exchange for a tax break, political junkie Chris (Barinholtz) and his wife Kai (Tiffany Haddish) refuse to take the oath, regardless of the consequences. But as the Black Friday deadline for signing looms, Chris and Kai will have to deal with government interrogations, family arguments, and one very tense Thanksgiving holiday to make it through.
Turkey talk: The premise of The Oath was inspired by several real-life historical events, including the 1947 Truman Loyalty Oath, which prescribed “procedures for the administration of an employees loyalty program in the executive branch of the government.”
Where to stream: Hulu
“Gobble, gobble motherfucker!” That’s the tagline of this so-bad-it’s-kinda-good Thanksgiving horror movie (it doesn’t have a ton of competition in the category) in which a group of college students heading home for the holiday get stranded in the woods when their car breaks down. Unfortunately for them, there’s also a homicidal turkey on the loose … do we really need to say any more to sell you?
Turkey talk: ThanksKilling spawned a Kickstarter-funded sequel, ThanksKilling 3, which you can pay to rent on Amazon. No, there is no ThanksKilling 2.
Where to stream: Amazon
The Ice Storm (1997)
Five years before he slipped into the Spidey suit for Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire delivered his breakthrough performance as Paul Hood, a disaffected teenager who comes home from boarding school to spend Thanksgiving in Connecticut with his dysfunctional upper-middle-class family—an adulterous dad (Kevin Kline), bored housewife mom (Joan Allen), and Watergate-obsessed/sexually adventurous sister (Christina Ricci)—who are each so caught up in their imagined pathos that it takes a bona fide tragedy for them to realize how lucky they are. But even upon that realization, Maguire just looks bored by the whole thing. Though the Ang Lee-directed film (based on the Rick Moody novel) earned a Golden Globe nomination for Sigourney Weaver as the Hoods’ seductive neighbor, it never quite received the recognition it should have for its deft balancing of humor and heartbreak. Given the politically-charged setting, maybe now is the time its given its due.