The 11 Streaming Movies to Top Off Your Thanksgiving Meal

The only Thanksgiving tradition more prevalent than turkey and stuffing is falling asleep in front of the TV as soon as dinner is over. (Just us? Oh, OK.) But falling asleep watching what? For a lot of folks it's sports, for others it's the NFL (zing!)—but once the food coma starts to hit, classic Turkey Day-themed movies are where it's at. Movies like Planes, Trains & Automobiles are time-honored staples, but everyone has their deep cuts, too. Looking for something to watch as you process the tryptophan? Gobble these movies up.

Big (1988)

If Thanksgiving planning proves too stressful this year, you might want to consider its lesser-known companion holiday: T.Hanksgiving, in which everyone gathers to watch the best Tom Hanks movies, while eating nothing but french fries (in honor, of course, of Hanks' yo-yo-diet cravings during the filming of Cast Away). And while there's a long list of family-friendly Hanks-a-million titles to choose from—like the breezy retro-romp That Thing You Do! or the sleek caper Catch Me If You Can—your best bet is this 1988 body-shifting comedy, in which a fortune-telling Zoltar machine transforms a wistful pre-teen into an excitable 30-year-old. Big finds Hanks at his '80s-charmer peak, his performance a mix of verve and earnesty that captures the whipsawing joy of childhood (and adulthood, for that matter). It's a movie that will likely charm everyone in the family, and perfect conversational fodder as you chew that thing you chew. — Brian RafteryWhere to stream it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

The Big Chill (1983)

There’s never really a bad time to watch The Big Chill, but holidays—the times folks spend around family, biological or chosen—are the best. Written and directed by Star Wars scribe Lawrence Kasdan, this 1980s classic perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to reunite and reconnect with college friends after a few years of real adulthood. And even though it focuses on a clique that gets back together after the funeral of a mutual pal, it never gets too sentimental, or too cheesy. Wonderful chemistry, an A+ soundtrack, and Jeff Goldblum—The Big Chill has everything you want to enjoy while on your third piece of pumpkin pie. —Angela WatercutterWhere to stream it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Four Brothers (2005)

By the time director John Singleton made Four Brothers in 2005, he’d already augured three formidable classics into theaters: there was the insurgent Boyz N the Hood, the Janet Jackson-led Poetic Justice, and college-campus race fable Higher Learning. The knot that ties each of those films together is also what makes Four Brothers, his Detroit western about the bonds of kinship, such a satisfying watch. Singleton has always had a particular eye for urban noirs, a particular taste for expanding the breadth of marginalized stories, and Four Brothers (in one of Outkast's Andre Benjamin’s first starring roles) unfolds with the kind of redemptively entertaining grit only a mid-aughts crime thriller could capture. —Jason ParhamWhere to stream it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Grumpy Old Men (1993)

There will never be another actor like Walter Matthau. Somehow, a gangly hangdog managed to harness the anything-goes weirdness of the ’60s and ’70s to star in rom-coms (Cactus Flower) and neo-noirs (Charley Varrick) alike. By the time he reunited with his Odd Couple counterpart Jack Lemmon for this crusty, crabby goofball, though the only thing Gen-Xers really knew him for was The Bad News Bears—meaning the cool crowd dismissed it like it was a credulous reporter calling Sub Pop. Regardless, I defy you to watch this and not howl for 104 minutes. Walter Matthau is a goddamn treasure. This movie is also one. Get over yourself and enjoy them both. —Peter RubinWhere to stream it: HBO Go

Home for the Holidays (1995)

Honestly, sometimes I can’t tell if this is a good movie or just a perfect time capsule of the mid-1990s film world that I can’t resist swallowing. It’s directed by Jodie Foster and stars a pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. and a fresh-off-My-So-Called-Life Claire Danes. But more importantly it has Holly Hunter at her relatable, hilarious best as a struggling woman who just lost her job and now has to go deal with relatives. Full of that loosely plotted, we-made-this-for-the-cost-of-a-Biggie-Smalls-video vibe that you just don’t that much any more, Home for the Holidays is ten times better than actually being home at the holidays. And there’s turkey, too. —Angela WatercutterWhere to stream it: HBO Go

North By Northwest (1959)

Roger Thornhill (played by ‘50s George Clooney, Cary Grant) is a distinctly un-suave ad man is mistaken for a government agent by a troupe of foreign spies. After they attempt to whack him and then frame him for murder, Thornhill has to hightail it from cops and spooks alike. It’s one of Hitchcock’s best: There’s plane chases, a sassy Eva Marie Saint, and (duh) suspense. OK, so calling it a Thanksgiving movie is kind of a stretch—a newspaper date tells us that some of the action must have taken place on Turkey Day, but Cary Grant never eats or mentions any—but really, what’s more American than dangling off the face(s) of Mount Rushmore? —Emma Grey EllisWhere to stream it: Amazon, iTunes

Planes, Trains & Automobiles* (1987)

For reference, these are the four movies John Hughes directed prior to this John Candy-Steve Martin buddy-out-of-water flick: Sixteen Candles; The Breakfast Club; Weird Science; Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In other words, Hughes was just about unstoppable, and he didn't miss a step in his tale about two marooned mismatched salesmen trying to find their way home in time for turkey. Thirty years later, looking back on its iconic "those aren't pillows!" joke may be an exercise in regret—was that gay-panic stuff really funny?—but all the enduring good parts of ’80s comedies are still there, too. Martin's Type-A act. Candy's clueless, overbearing schmuck-schtick. An Edie McClurg moment! It's as ridiculous and sweet as anything you'd want to watch this time of year. (It still doesn't make up for Long Duk Dong, though.) —Peter RubinWhere to stream it: Amazon, iTunes

Prisoners (2013)

Set in a rural Pennsylvania town during Thanksgiving, Prisoners captures the chilly, drizzly, leaf-slick feel of fall—and uses it as the backdrop of a brutal revenge-thriller. Hugh Jackman plays Keller, a good-dude dad whose daughter is kidnapped; the crime transforms him into a morally malleable justice-seeker, and sends him on a collision course with Loki, a circumspect cop played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Their shared mission to find the kid leads to a series of harrowing discoveries about the community in which they live, as well as about the boundaries of their own humanity. Prisoners is modern noir at its most brutal, and while it will likely drive some family members from the room, at least that will give you some valuable holiday alone-time, right? —Brian RafteryWhere to stream it: Amazon, YouTube, iTunes

Rocky (1976)

This 1976 sleeper hit launched a decades-long franchise, yielded a chart-flying No. 1 hit, and turned Sylvester Stallone into an Oscar-nominated, box-office KO'ing superstar. But while later Rocky films were bogged down by get-in-the-ring revenge narratives, the original is a deeply affecting working-class romance that finds Rocky and Talia Shire's Adrian (sorry: Adriaaaaaaaan!) trying to overcome their social shortcomings. They're aided in part by her brother, Paulie (Burt Ward), who serves as accidental their go-between, resulting in a disastrous Thanksgiving dinner in which a turkey goes flying out the door ("You want the bird? Go in the alley and eat the bird!"). Watch it with Ryan Coogler's equally affecting 2015 hit Creed for the perfect one-two holiday punch. — Brian Raftery Where to stream it: Amazon, iTunes

Spider-Man (2002)

Sam Raimi's first entry in the web saga seems charmingly modest nowadays: Released at a time when superhero movies were still a chancy prospect, Spider-Man is so uncomplicated, and so semi-small-stakes (there's only one major villain!) that it plays less like a big-screen epic, and more like a high-school dram-com. But the movie's peppy spirit and sharply drawn characters pay off throughout, especially in one tense holiday scene in which bad guy Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) shows up for Thanksgiving dinner with his nemesis, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, never more wide-eyed). The movie's 15-year-old computer effects may no longer be quite as awe-inspiring, but when it comes to unfussy, pre-franchise-era family fun, Spider-Man still swings. —Brian RafteryWhere to stream it: Amazon, YouTube, iTunes

The West Wing, "Shibboleth" (2000)

Rewatching The West Wing is like going home for the holidays—better, really, because it's actually soothing. And “Shibboleth” (Season 2, Episode 8) is the walk-and-talk political drama at its feel-good best. Sure, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) has to decide whether to grant asylum to a boatload of Chinese evangelical Christians, but for most of the episode, he’s just being hilariously, dadishly picky about turkey-carving knives. And—as always—the show’s real delight is in the antics of Press Secretary CJ Cregg (Allison Janney), who has to decide whether the president should pardon a turkey named Eric or another named Troy. (A good West Wing binge, I might add, would also provide an opportunity to bask in the presence of a Sorkinian president who really, really knows his way around a sentence.) —Emma Grey Ellis Where to stream it: Amazon, YouTube, iTunes

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