Rian Johnson’s whodunnit has all the trappings of a Thanksgiving movie, without ever mentioning the holiday. There’s family infighting, Chris Evans in a cable-knit sweater, foggy fall weather, and even a political allegory about the treatment of people of color. And the family could use a refresher ahead of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which hits theaters this week.
The same year that Merriam-Webster acknowledged Instagram captions everywhere by adding “Friendsgiving” to the dictionary, a movie of the same name was released in 2020. True to its titular tradition, a group of friends convenes for a meal that inevitably devolves into chaos.
Before bloated ensemble films became a rite of passage for holidays (Love Actually, Valentine’s Day), there was this 2000 indie film centered on Thanksgiving. It follows four families of different cultural identities—Vietnamese, Jewish, Black, and Latino—as they prepare for a day of thanks. The movie’s sprawling cast includes Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies, Kyra Sedgwick, and Alfre Woodard, to name a few.
While not an outright Thanksgiving movie, 1997’s ensemble dramedy contains some of the most sumptuous shots of food ever committed to film. After the death of their family matriarch, a group of disparate relatives must put aside their differences and reconvene for a weekly Sunday dinner. Starring Vivica A. Fox, Vanessa Williams, and Nia Long, Soul Food captures the bonding powers that plates of cornbread, catfish, and collard greens can bring.
This 1976 best picture Oscar winner stars Syllvester Stallone as the eponymous down-on-his-luck boxer, whose fate begins to change with the meeting of his future wife, Adrian (Talia Shire). “To you it’s Thanksgiving, to me it’s Thursday,” Rocky tells Adrian as he whisks her away from a disastrous family feast minutes after her brother Paulie (Burt Young) hurls her cooking turkey into the nearby alley. As fans of the franchise, which has debuted several films over the Thanksgiving holiday, know: their Thanksgiving meet-cute will stand the test of time.
Little Women (2019)
Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated take on the Louisa May Alcott classic is brimming with cozy, Thanksgiving-esque vibes. Set in the weeks before Christmas, the March sisters (Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlen, and Florence Pugh) and matriarch (Laura Dern) battle wits, trot through the snow, and stage living room plays in a film that feels reminiscent of many a-family gatherings.
“First, let’s give thanks to our families not being here. It’s always easier without the family,” Adam Sandler’s George Simmons, a stand-up comedian who has been newly diagnosed with cancer, says to a group of new friends. In Judd Apatow’s 2009 dramedy, George attempts to revamp his fledgling career in the eleventh hour with the help of aspiring comic Ira Wright (Seth Rogen). At one point, he joins the younger talent’s friendsgiving festivities, where the table is surrounded by stars including Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzmann, Aubrey Plaza, and Bo Burnham.
Written by real-life couple Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, this 2015 Sundance favorite centers on the unlikely friendship between Lola Kirke’s Tracy, a first-year college student alone in New York, and Gerwig’s Brooke, the Times Square-living twentysomething who will soon become her stepsister. Conflict between the pair gets resolved on Thanksgiving at New York City’s Veselka, a Ukrainian institution where pierogis stand in for the traditional bird.