16 films and TV shows to watch with (or without) your family this Thanksgiving weekend
Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who knows nothing says “quality time with loved ones” quite like a meditative drama about a multilingual production of “Uncle Vanya” or a true-crime potboiler about male strippers.
In our special Thanksgiving edition, film and TV experts at The Times offer recommendations for what to stream over the long holiday weekend, and the list has something for every taste. (Yes, there are holiday movies and TV shows here too. We just like to keep you guessing!) So whether you want to enjoy something wholesome with the family or need a moment of respite, we’ve got you covered. And if we might make one more suggestion while we’re at it, Baz Lurhmann talking about “Elvis” on “The Envelope” podcast is the perfect diversion while you’re peeling potatoes.
The complete guide to home viewing
Get Screen Gab for everything about the TV shows and streaming movies everyone’s talking about.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
‘The Beatles: Get Back’
The best thing about Thanksgiving 2021 was the release of Peter Jackson’s documentary series “The Beatles: Get Back,” which simultaneously captured the demise of the Beatles and some of their best songwriting. Why not make it an annual tradition? Clocking in at nearly eight hours, the three episodes capture three weeks in the life of the Fab Four as they plan to make a TV special — with director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who really wanted to go to Libya — but ends with what would be their final public performance. It’s pure magic to watch the creative process behind some of the band’s most beloved songs, including when Paul McCartney plucks “Get Back” out of the ether and George Harrison and Ringo Starr start to flesh it out. At the very least, the full rooftop concert is a great soundtrack for washing the dishes after the Thanksgiving feast. (Disney+) —Vanessa Franko
‘Be My Guest With Ina Garten’
At my mom’s house, it isn’t really Thanksgiving if we haven’t toiled away all day in the kitchen while enviously watching Ina Garten effortlessly whip up turkey bolognese or mussels with saffron cream in her perfectly organized kitchen at her quaint shingle-style farmhouse in East Hampton. Yes, it’s a cruel way to start a day of thanks — wondering why you don’t have a luxe blooming garden and easy access to good cheese — but it certainly makes me thankful the Barefoot Contessa herself can keep me dreaming. Her latest series, “Be My Guest With Ina Garten,” a mix of cooking and interviewing, is in our rotation. Each episode, she welcomes a celebrity friend into her home and (sort of) wrangles them to help her in the kitchen, while also taking time to ask them about their backstory — the Nathan Lane episode is a true delight. If you really want to make things fun, make a drinking game out of it and take a sip every time she says, “Now doesn’t that look fabulous?” (Discovery+) —Yvonne Villarreal
‘Crimes of the Future’
It is maybe no surprise that David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future,” his first feature film in eight years, is a thoughtfully provocative body-horror science-fiction hybrid about human evolution and body autonomy. What is unexpected is the delightfully off-kilter, almost rom-com energy coming from the performances by Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and in particular Kristen Stewart. Mortensen plays a performance artist with the ability to grow new organs inside himself and Seydoux is his partner who surgically removes them for audiences, while Stewart is a mid-level government functionary who goes from oversight to obsessed fan. And in case you’re feeling uneasy about whatever you just ate during the holiday, the film also includes a storyline about a faction of people developing the ability to digest plastic. (Hulu) —Mark Olsen
‘Drive My Car’
I’m spending Thanksgiving in Japan this year, so I’ve recently found myself in immersion mode: “The Tale of Genji,” “Shogun,” “Snow Country,” “The Making of Modern Japan.” But none of these may be so quietly striking a travelogue as “Drive My Car,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s three-hour epic about grief, forgiveness and “Uncle Vanya.” It’s not just the spectacular vistas of the present-day Hiroshima coast, either. As Yusuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima) mounts a multilingual production of Chekhov’s classic and befriends his driver, Misaki (Tōko Miura), in the process, it’s impossible not to become invested in a village worth’s of supporting characters: Yusuke’s young rival, his Taiwanese girlfriend, her Deaf Korean co-star, her Japanese husband. Indeed, though I’m unlikely to spend much time behind the wheel on my journey — unless I meet a handsome actor/director with a fire-engine red Saab 900 Turbo and glaucoma in his left eye — “Drive My Car,” echoing the Russian drama at its core, poses a question anyone might while alone on the road, whether on the other side of the country or the other side of the world: “What should I do about my life, and my love?” (HBO Max) —Matt Brennan
FIFA World Cup
Every year, sports fans in the U.S. are treated to three NFL games on Thanksgiving Day. (This year the Buffalo Bills visit the Detroit Lions, 9:30 a.m., CBS; the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants, 1:30 p.m. Fox; and the New England Patriots are at the Minnesota Vikings, 5:15 p.m. NBC). But for the rest of the world, the biggest sporting event on the planet is just getting underway: the FIFA World Cup, held every four years, is a global soccer tournament where qualifying teams consisting of the best players from each participating country compete in early rounds, semifinals and finals.The top two teams from each group advance to a round of 16; from there it’s single elimination through quarter-finals, semifinals and the final, which will be held Dec. 18.
The tournament, held this year in Qatar, opened Sunday with Ecuador besting the host team 2-1. The U.S. team, returning for the first time since 2014, played its first game on Wednesday, and tied with Wales at 1-1. The big Thanksgiving day game is a Group G matchup featuring top-ranked Brazil (always one of the most exciting teams in the Wold Cup) versus Serbia, 11 a.m. on Fox, Telemundo and Peacock. The U.S. team’s next game is against England, Friday at 11 a.m. on Fox, NBC Universo and Peacock. —Ed Stockly
‘Good Night Oppy’
If the news here on Earth has you down, look up to the stars with this feel-good documentary about NASA’s Mars rover program and its triumph over seemingly impossible odds. While space nerds may already be familiar with the journey of the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity, “Good Night Oppy” — which premiered to raves at September’s Telluride Film Festival — delves deep into the remarkable story of how the robots managed to outlast their planned 90-day missions and continue exploring the planet for years. Not only will you cheer for the NASA engineers who helped achieve this feat; you might even shed a tear for these strangely lovable hunks of high-tech machinery that boldly went where no one has gone before. (Amazon Prime Video) —Josh Rottenberg
“Heat” could easily be described as the shortest three-hour heist movie you’ll ever see. Although Michael Mann’s 1995 film is epic, it’s almost a certainty that viewers won’t be looking at their watch. The thriller starts out at a full throttle and never takes its foot off the pedal. The spectacular action includes a breathtaking shootout at a downtown Los Angeles bank, but “Heat” also functions as a character study of two obsessive men who would probably be good friends if they weren’t on opposite sides of the law. Al Pacino chews the scenery perfectly as a relentless major crimes detective whose personal life is a wreck, while Robert De Niro underplays his role as the world-weary leader of a group of thieves who just wants to make one last score. The scene of the two having coffee at the (now-closed) Kate Mantilini diner in Beverly Hills is a showcase of two masters at the top of their game. The amazing supporting cast includes Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Dennis Haysbert, Myketi Williamson and a teenage Natalie Portman. (Starz, VOD) —Greg Braxton
‘Home for the Holidays’
Behold: an actual Thanksgiving movie! I hadn’t seen Jodie Foster’s grown-up family comedy since it came out in 1995, but had fond memories, especially of Robert Downey Jr.’s puckish turn as the troublemaking brother. Rewatching it, its clumsy opening minutes made me worry it hadn’t aged well … until Holly Hunter’s put-upon protagonist is picked up at the airport by her parents (played, to our great good fortune, by Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning), and the thing just takes off. “Home” follows the familiar template of dropping us into the fuzzy bear trap of a few days with family, warts, farts, longing hearts and all. Foster gets wonderful, settled work from a killer ensemble including Dylan McDermott as the dreamy stranger and Geraldine Chaplin as the batty aunt. Bancroft is a joy, Durning is lovable and Chaplin is touching. The film’s final sequence is so very lovely. (Fubo, VOD) —Michael Ordoña
Lost amid the glut of last year’s November releases, “The Humans,” Stephen Karam’s smart screen adaptation of his own Tony-winning play, is a Thanksgiving-themed downer worth seeking out. Few family holiday gatherings have felt more intensely claustrophobic than this one, unfolding in a cramped, barely furnished New York apartment that might well be haunted, though less by any unfriendly ghosts than by the characters’ ever-looming frustrations and disappointments. For all that, this is no plate-smashing exercise in dysfunctional-family histronics; the family here is actually a remarkably functional one, which makes its individual tragedies that much more piercingly, recognizably acute. The stellar ensemble cast includes Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, June Squibb and, above all, the sublime Jayne Houdyshell. (Showtime, VOD) —Justin Chang
Thanksgiving movies don’t get much more nerve-jangling than Trey Edward Shults’ 2016 stunner “Krisha,” in which a holiday family gathering barrels toward disaster upon the arrival of its black sheep. Krisha (played by Krisha Fairchild, the filmmaker’s aunt) is her name, and she’s been estranged from her relatives — including her distant and wounded grown son Trey (played by the filmmaker himself) — for years. Amid the cacophonous bustle and loaded interactions of Turkey Day, Shults (“Waves,” “It Comes At Night”) places us in Krisha’s increasingly claustrophobic shoes as the cracks in her veneer deepen and painful histories reveal themselves. One of the most remarkable American indie directorial debuts in years, “Krisha” might hit too close for comfort — or serve as a welcome reminder that yours isn’t the only family that needs to exorcise long-buried emotional demons come the holidays. (VOD, multiple platforms) —Jen Yamato
‘Mickey: The Story of a Mouse’
A not completely hagiographic Disney biography of its first and greatest star — no, not Ariel— as he changed with the changing times. The documentary, which reflects the highs but also the lows of his career, is organized around the creation of a new one-minute short, created old-style by a (very) small team of animators, that travels backward through a succession of 20th-century Mickeys. Anyone who loves a pencil test or the sight of ink on celluloid will get a special thrill here, and perhaps shed a tear over lost crafts. But there are all kinds of archival goodies on parade, and this is incidentally a history of a century of American life, which the Mouse, as character and symbol, could not help but reflect. (Disney+) —Robert Lloyd
There never seems to be enough time to stay on top of ongoing favorites, no matter how universally acclaimed. So for this long holiday weekend I’m recommending the show I also plan to catch up on: “Reservation Dogs.” The second season of the comedy series — about a group of Native American teens navigating grief, shifting friendships and their dreams through the realities of their lives in rural Oklahoma — wrapped up in September, which means it’s time to get launched on the 10-episode binge (18, if you’d like to start from the first season). Created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, the series is set and shot in Indian country (the Muscogee Nation, specifically) and boasts predominantly Indigenous talent in front and behind the camera. As noteworthy as the show is for its authenticity and cultural specificity, it’s also a funny, heartfelt, awkward and relatable must-see. (Hulu) —Tracy Brown
The Roys. TV’s first family of fiduciary infighting. Hopefully your own loved ones are not as backstabbing and cold as the clan at the heart of “Succession,” but you’d be fooling yourself to say that their awkward dinners, family group chats and sibling rivalries don’t feel somewhat relatable. While the average Thanksgiving meal probably doesn’t involve as much discussion of mergers and acquisitions, the uncomfortable silences and piercing glares should prove recognizable to anyone who’s ever shared a meal with family and friends after a few sips of wine and more than a few political disagreements. Never is this more strongly felt in the HBO series than in the “Tern Haven” episode of Season 2, when the Roys meet with the Pierce family, headed by matriarch Nan Pierce. Come for the chaos of rich adult children behaving badly, stay for the meeting of TV titans Brian Cox and Cherry Jones. (HBO Max) —David Viramontes
‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas’
This documentary — about a Christmas-loving lawyer obsessed with elaborately decorating his home in a quiet northern Idaho community — is the perfect watch for that transitional weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas because, while it’s got a hint of the holidays, it’s ultimately about arguing over who’s really correct about our rights as Americans. Director Becky Read presents the timeline of events with humor, heart and an element of surprise that’ll have you discussing the different sides while the movie plays. Warning: if you watch this one while gathering with your family members — especially if folks are of various generations and political beliefs — you all might just find yourselves fighting amongst each other. (Apple TV+) —Ashley Lee
‘Welcome to Chippendales’
If you prefer to spend your holidays watching true tales of murder involving sequins, cocaine and men in thongs, then look no further than “Welcome to Chippendales.” The series tells the unlikely story of how Indian immigrant Steve Banerjee (Kumail Nanjiani) opened the Chippendales night club in L.A. in the 1970s and harnessed the era’s libidinous zeitgeist with a troupe of well-oiled men wearing little more than bow ties. Created by Robert Siegel, of “Pam & Tommy” fame, “Welcome to Chippendales” follows Banerjee’s troubled partnership with Nick De Noia (Murray Bartlett), the visionary choreographer responsible for the troupe’s elaborate stage show. Though it follows a trajectory similar to the excellent podcast, “Welcome to Your Fantasy,” the drama is officially based on “Deadly Dance: The Chippendales Murders,” a book by K. Scot McDonald. (Hulu) —Meredith Blake
This all-Black rendition of “The Wizard of Oz” actually kicks off with Dorothy (played here by Diana Ross), Aunt Em and extended family members seated around what looks to be a full Thanksgiving spread. Shortly after, a blizzard wisks our heroine away from her aunt’s Harlem walk-up to the land of Oz, reimagined here as a visually stunning, lively homage to 1978 New York City, including notable landscapes like Coney Island, Shea Stadium (RIP), the New York Public Library Main Branch and the former World Trade Center. The Motown cult classic also stars luminaries like Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor, and boasts a score composed by music mogul Quincy Jones. (VOD, multiple platforms) —Sonaiya Kelley
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.