In my early 20s, to break out of the freelancing solitude and to bring in some extra scratch, I worked for Williams Sonoma. It was a different time -- we carried all kinds of fabulous brands, we didn’t have to dress like automatons and WS was known for its no-questions-asked return policy. I loved the job and 15 years later, still call coworkers friends.
I made it through a few Christmases, and seemed particularly skilled at moving bottles of roasted garlic. Times have changed there, but two things haven’t: the holiday soundtracks and the giganto tower of mulling spices. They make me wretch, equally.
We’re living in a different age, one where most media is at our fingertips. People get married without a DJ, leaving their iphone to sub in. For almost any occasion, I have a carefully curated Pandora channel, and I don’t know what’s in the water at the Netflix algorhythm plant, but lately I’ve been getting recommendations of 80’s made for TV movies and culty disaster flicks that make my heart sing (and I don’t mean Sharknado, I’m talking Roller Coaster and Day of Destruction level shit).
Thanksgiving isn't just about the food, but the movies we play while our friends are over and the music we set the mood to.
Here are THE GREATEST THANKSGIVING MOVIES OF ALL TIME, and I am going to share with you, xoJaners, my ultimate Thanksgiving playlist. No matter where you are, it will manifest up a fireplace, kittens playing with balls of yarn, warm cider and Fred Astaire. Unless you’re into like.. NecroGoblin. Then this isn’t going to be your thing.
1. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Two of our country’s greatest humorists, John Candy and Steve Martin, bumble their way home for Thanksgiving, finishing with that warm, fuzzy, 80’s happy ending that defined a decade. In the history of man, never has a better Thanksgiving movie existed. It is Candy, it is Martin, and it is John Hughes. If you need more reason, grab a quarter and go buy a soul.
Also -- best use of pillows as a plot device. catch it on: Amazon Prime Streaming
2. Home for the Holidays
Holly Hunter’s truly insane family will make yours seem like poster models for Wellbutrin. If you throw Steven Guttenberg, Robert Downey, Charles Dunning, Anne Bancroft and Dylan McDermott into the same 2 hours of film, nothing unfunny could ever emerge.
Catch it on: Youtube. Probably illegally. Netflix, WHY AREN'T YOU CARRYING IT?
3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
It is Charlie Brown. It is Thanksgiving. Enough said. Because: Snoopy.
Catch it on: Youtube. Really guys?
According to my Nana, there has never been a movie that more perfectly captured the lives of Jews in NY during the early 1900s, making their own pilgrimage towards “The American Life.” It is funny, and uplifting and iconic and will indeed leave you with a sense of wonder and missing the way things used to be.
Catch it on: Amazon Instant Video
5. Hannah and Her Sisters
I’m not the worlds biggest Woody Allen fanatic. Sometimes his humor eludes me -- but he can play heartstrings like a violin and this is no exception. It's the perfect followup to Avalon, covering one family over two years and starring literally everyone and their brother. It's one of Allen’s biggest hits, won multiple Oscars and features Allen’s gift for weaving together multiple storylines.
Catch it on: XFinity online.
6. The Ice Storm
Before there was Sofia Coppola, there was Ang Lee- giving us winding character studies that clearly evoked a time and place and made us feel like part of a cast. Set during Thanksgiving 1973, with Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, and Sigourney Weaver, the 70’s is just as much a star.
Catch it on: Amazon Instant Video
7. Pieces of April
If you’re looking to paint your holiday in a better light, Katie Holmes in her darkest 2 hours on film will make your cooking, your decorations, your day of stress and your family seem like dining at the palace with a cast of Disney characters. This is one of those “black comedies” which seems to be a cover for “not actually funny, but just dark.” Make it to the end and there’s an uplifting redemption, but mostly this just paints a real picture of real families and real frustration.
Catch it on:Amazon Instant Video
This is no time for sentiment- you need music that is happy, bouncy, rhythmic and keeps you up and going. My Spotify cooking playlist is the perfect list for singing along, full of Liz Phair, Ben Folds, Kate Bush, Nina Gordon and Feist with some classic 90s alt mixed in.
Bring the mood to its warm, fuzzy place. I filled this Dinner Party playlist with all the great ladies: Ella, Billie, Nina, Sarah, Dinah and Lena. And you know the guys: Frank, Bing. Its the perfect music for background, playing softly where everyone will recognize a song or two.
During dishes and pie, its time for kitchen karaoke. Rolling Stone’s The Ultimate Girl Group Playlist will keep everyone up and happy and will counteract the L Tryptophan just as it kicks in. The Shirelles, The Ronettes, The Supremes, all the way through the Pointer Sisters, Go Gos, Salt N Pepa, En Vogue, Destiny’s Child, and Team Spirit.