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Once the Thanksgiving dinner has been eaten, all we are left are food comas and the company of our family. They are both easier to handle with a good movie occupying the background. So, here we are: a bunch of movies (a lot of which are (BONUS!) streamable for free) to spend late Thursday and most of Friday-through-Sunday with. Focus on dysfunction (familial and otherwise).

Snowpiercer (streaming on Showtime Anytime)

Snowpiercer is the outlier here. No matter what you do, you should be thankful that something as weird and beautiful (or is it weird and wonderful and weird?) as Snowpiercer not only got made, but got made on a budget that allowed it to be as glorious as it is. Plus, it includes  stars like Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, and Octavia Spencer, so then that now this whole thing is ready for us to watch at any and all times as we wish. The story is simple enough: a train carrying the only survivors of a snowapocalypse is piercing through the mountains with a class war raging within its perfectly compartmentalized insides. One part Wizard of Oz, one part Murder on the Orient Express, one part Spartacus, this is a movie that will unite or divide you and everyone you’re sitting with. Let’s hope for the former. – Svetlana

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A Christmas Tale (streaming on Hulu)

You know that line Tolstoy has about unhappy families? That idea is exponentially true during the holidays. In fact, I imagine that moments before you cross the threshold into your childhood home, you’ll need to take a breath for the uniquely dehumanizing experience of sharing mandatory holiday as an adult. The French dramedy A Christmas Tale captures the indignity, misery, and ultimate joy of time with family, and also serves as wish fulfillment for those that maybe want a break the whole damn thing: the main character is the middle son of an aging matriarch, and he returns from a six year banishment because his mother is sick, and needs his bone morrow. While I love my family, parts of me wish I could see them only when I’m the conquering hero. – Alan

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Beginners ($2.99 on Amazon and iTunes)

Mike Mills’ 2011 subtle masterpiece stands as a beacon of what a summer movie SHOULD BE, in my mind: thoroughly entertaining, funny and charming, phenomenal to look at, slightly fantastical and yes, with a heart filled to the brim with all the kinds of love we feel in our lives. It is also a great test of whether or not the people you are watching it with are worth your time (and your Thanksgiving). As Wetherbee would note of anyone who didn’t just absolutely love it “that person is missing an important part of their soul.” -Svetlana

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Rachel Getting Married ($2.99 on Amazon and iTunes)

You saw Interstellar, right? You probably should, and if you haven’t yet, maybe you can excuse yourself before the Lions game and get a cinematic respite from your aunt who’s about to transition from a fun drunk into a mean one. Anyway, one of the best parts about Interstellar is TARS (Bill Irwin), a sarcastic robot who never despairs, even when he barely saves the life of Brand (Anne Hathaway), an astronaut in danger. Did you know what Irwin and Hathaway were another movie six years earlier, one with a bigger cast and fewer robots? Written by Jenny Lumet, daughter of Sidney, and directed by Jonathon Demme, Rachel Getting Married is about a family that’s better yours. Hathaway plays Kim, a fuck-up who has an awkward relationship with her father (Irwin). Still, the family includes big-hearted artists, musicians, and weirdos who are ultimately tolerant of each other’s flaws. Your drunk aunt will rudely ask when you are going to produce grandchildren, for God’s sake. Your aunt in Rachel Getting Married will grip your hand, wordlessly letting you know that we’re all in this together. We should crash their wedding instead of another god damn round of trivial pursuit. -Alan

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Your Sister’s Sister ($3.99 on iTunes)

Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie DeWitt are not OK. The three people who never before were in a room together, though in pairs they have complex, real relationships (the two girls are half-sisters, Duplass & Blunt are best friends, and Blunt used to date Duplass’ now dead brother) spend a weekend (week?) at a remote cabin figuring stuff out. This is smart, funny and naturalistic in the best way imaginable. Dealing with people is messy, and dealing with people you love is the messiest. -Svetlana

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Pieces of April ($2.99 on Amazon and iTunes)

You know what’s worse than Thanksgiving at your folks’ place? Bringing the party to your overpriced condo. You have to hide your weed, your collection of multi-colored condoms, and your liquor. And all that happens before you clean the place because you know that Mom and Dad will judge every mistake, whether it’s your shoddy living situation, your questionable roommates, or your attempt at stuffing. Pieces of April is a zero-budget comedy where Katie Holmes places the titular April, a good-natured but unconventional young woman who entertains her family on Thanksgiving. They do not approve of her lifestyle AT ALL, but she keeps a brave face because, well, they’re her family, damn it! If I was her, I’d skip the whole hassle and instead use the holiday as an excuse for a vacation. I’m already jealous of my high school buddy who had the genius idea of going to Cambodia instead of another year eating yet another dry turkey leg.- Alan

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In A World… (streaming on Hulu)

If at this point you have not seen In A World…, despite a steady stream of weekly reminders (we leave like little breadcrumbs all over this website) that you really, really should, then maybe you’re a lost cause. Still, worth one more try, for Holidays’ sake: Lake Bell’s directorial debut is a funny (in the most deadpan way), smart (in the most subversive way), heartbreaking (in the most funny smart way) family story of a legacy between a Father and a Daughter, and the way it affects everything around them. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll never be able to listen to a movie trailer in the same way again. -Svetlana

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The Ice Storm ($2.99 on Amazon and iTunes)

American Beauty has not aged well. The writing is unintentionally funny, its satire was written during the economic boom of the 1990s, and, well, the plot centers around a lecherous creep trying to seduce a teenage girl. Released a couple years before American Beauty, Ang Lee’s vastly superior The Ice Storm tackles similar themes in a more universal way. It tells a multi-generational and multi-family saga, all centered on Thanksgiving, except it’s the 1970s so the plot revolves around a key party (don’t know what a key party is? Google it). The cast is great, whether it’s Sigourney Weaver at her most biting, Kevin Kline at his most droll, or Elijah Wood at his weirdest. The titular ice storm is no joke – it’s quite dangerous, in fact. Since it’s supposed to snow in DC on Wednesday, the first time it’ll snow in the area on November since 1996, maybe it’s a good idea to fire up this forgotten classic instead of, I don’t know, dealing with endless travel delays. -Alan

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Nebraska (streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime)

A grower if not an instant shower, this Alexander Payne gem (Oscar nominated yet probably still criminally underseen) is finally having its moment in the streaming sun and if you don’t find 2 hours to spend in the black-and-white universe of middle America as a Father (a spectacular Bruce Dern), a Mother (an unforgettable June Squibb), and a Son (a rocksteady Will Forte) travel across the titular state in search of lottery money, as well as the love they lost somewhere along the way, then, well, you’re probably not worth a proper Thanksgiving. -Svetlana

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Sexy Beast ($2.99 on Amazon and iTunes)

This movie is a perfect litmus test for your family. It’s about Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), a pit bull of an English gangster whose barks is just as bad as his bite. He swears a lot, which will scandalize your annoying relatives who act like they’re superior to words that have four fucking letters. And who knows? Maybe the people who stick around to join you are actually pretty cool. Remember your mean drunk aunt? I bet she would love the shit out of Sexy Beast, and I’m sure she’d take the film as an opportunity to confide in you afterward (e.g. “You were always my favorite.”) -Alan

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Le Week-end + Quartet (Le Week-end streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, Quartet on Netflix)

The Instant Netflix sub-genre of romantic dramas involving the elderly is one of my personal favorites, and also a great thing to watch while spending time with the romantic elders in your life. The Le Week-End (About a couple attempting to rekindle something or other 35 years after their original honeymoon in Paris) and Quartet (a story of a retirement home for famous Opera performents coming together to save said home and their own hearts) pack a perfect one-two punch of the AARP approved candor and a LOT of Maggie Smith.  -Svetlana

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ($2.00 on Amazon and $2.99 on iTunes)

I’m still bummed about the death of Mike Nichols. He was willing to see past the niceties of a boring evening meal, and was fascinated by the cruel dismantling of modern relationships. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Nichols’ first film, stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor as a professor and his embittered wife, respectively, who rip each other part (metaphorically speaking) after they have a younger couple over for dinner. Even if you want your Thanksgiving to go well, I’m sure part of you would like to see everyone collectively lose their shit in the way that these characters do. This is good fare for the entire family: you could even start with your annoying nephew on your lap, except he’d either leave or fall asleep since the movie is in black and white. Pays Nichols the respect he deserves, and revisit this classic instead of watching more football, or even worse, another Charlie Brown cartoon. – Alan

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The Birdcage ($2.99 on Amazon)

I still can’t get over the fact that Mike Nichols is gone, either. Also, sort of still not quite over the fact that Robin Williams is not around as well. So, for a nostalgia laughter combo pack for THE WHOLE modern family, scaddadle over to this imperfect, but still truly heartfelt comedy of errors, mistaken identities, slightly off velue perceptions and one big, wonderful family meal. If there is one weekend of the year to relate to it all, this is it. – Svetlana

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Sabrina (streaming on Epix)

Maybe you like your extended family. Maybe your family is like the first part of that famous Tolstoy quote. Maybe your family never stresses you out, and Thanksgiving is a source of joy, year after year. If that’s the case, I don’t believe you, but I’m going to recommend you watch Sabrina anyway. This is a crowd-pleaser: it’s got Bogart, Holden, and Hepburn. It’s directed by Billy Wilder. It’s life-affirming in a timeless way. Watch Sabrina with your family, and everyone will want a group hug afterward. Just don’t tell the rest of us about your delightful holiday, since we’re still recovering from ours. – Alan

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How to Steal A Million ($2.99 on Amazon and iTunes)

Speaking of family-wide crowd pleasers, when they say “They don’t make movies like they used to,” they’re talking about this one. A 1966 art heist rom com starring the forever flawless Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn, this William Wyler romp is a class act through and true. The movie precariously teeters on the all-style-and-not-much substance but it does it with great aplomb. A perfect way to spend a post-feast family afternoon (with a well mixed cocktail). – Svetlana

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WHAT WILL YOU BE WATCHING?

 

 

 

 

 

This piece originally ran in 2014. All streaming information is up to date.

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