12 Movies Like Thanksgiving (2023)

Staff & contributors

Wong Kar-wai’s dreamlike masterpiece is a perfect portrayal of the wilderness of a city at night. A hitman trying to get his job done, a woman hunting the prostitute who stole her boyfriend, and a mute who loves his father's cooking: each of the characters in Fallen Angels is eccentric and interesting in their own way. Along the watch, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the events taking place as each character fights to stay alive and satisfy their desire, but this is exactly where the beauty lies. A hazy view of Hong Kong is the backdrop for the characters' riveting stories, blending loneliness, lust, as well as missed opportunities. Fallen Angels is a remarkably balanced film that not only exposes the coldness of people in the city, but also their warmth.

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Romance

Actor: Benz Kong, Benz Kong To-Hoi, Chan Fai-Hung, Chan Man-Lei, Charlie Yeung, Johnnie Kong, Karen Mok, Karen Mok Man-Wai, Kwan Lee-Na, Leon Lai, Michelle Reis, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Toru Saito

Director: Kar-Wai Wong, Wong Kar-wai

Rating: R

Of all the Christmas-set films to have come out over the last couple of months that were, inexplicably, about grief and regret (you'd be surprised by how many there are), The Holdovers easily outdoes its contemporaries by being confident enough to just sit with its characters. Like the best of director Alexander Payne's other films, there are no melodramatic crescendos or overcomplicated metaphors; there are only flawed individuals going about their lives, occasionally noticing the things that bind them together. Payne's gentle touch means the characters (and the audience) aren't forced to "solve" their grief, but allowed to come to terms with it in their own way, with each other.

Payne evokes the film's 1970s setting through a muted color palette and analog—almost tactile—sound design, giving warmth to this New England despite all its snow and chilly interiors. It's understandable that these characters are similarly cold to each other on the surface at first, but they manage to thaw the ice simply by taking the chance to listen to each other's pain. It's the kind of film in which relationships develop so gradually, that you hardly notice until the end how much mutual respect has formed between them when they return from their dark nights of the soul back to their status quo.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alexander Cook, Andrew Garman, Bill Mootos, Brady Hepner, Carrie Preston, Carter Shimp, Cole Tristan Murphy, Colleen Clinton, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Dakota Lustick, Dan Aid, Darby Lee-Stack, David J. Curtis, Dominic Sessa, Dustin Tucker, Gillian Vigman, Ian Dolley, Ian Lyons, Jim Kaplan, Joe Howell, Jonathan von Mering, Kelly AuCoin, Kevin Daigneault, Kevin Fennessy, Melissa McMeekin, Michael Malvesti, Michael Provost, Naheem Garcia, Oscar Wahlberg, Osmani Rodriguez, Pamela Jayne Morgan, Paul Giamatti, Rena Maliszewski, Stephen Thorne, Tate Donovan

Director: Alexander Payne

Rating: R

Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell got a lot of free reign with her debut, Promising Young Woman, which was a slightly modest ordeal even with a lead of Carrey Mulligan's calibre. But now, with her sophomore film, she go to have some fun. Assembling a devout cast of particularly skilled actors—Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, and Mulligan again—seems like an obvious decision, but the mix of them all is unlike anything we've seen before. A class satire, a psychological thriller, and a psychosexual drama, Saltburn is high class entertainment, with a snappy script, and many tricks up its sleeve. Brace yourselves for some bath-action, grave-action, and full-moon-menstrual-action and many other scenes you may have not ever pictured shown on the screen. Actually, it's impossible to prepare for a film like this one, but being open certainly helps digest the shock and provocations that are there for you to behold.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Alison Oliver, Andy Brady, Archie Madekwe, Barry Keoghan, Carey Mulligan, Dorothy Atkinson, Ewan Mitchell, Glyn Grimstead, Jacob Elordi, Joshua McGuire, Lolly Adefope, Matthew Carver, Paul Rhys, Reece Shearsmith, Richard E. Grant, Rosamund Pike, Sadie Soverall, Seth MacFarlane, Shaun Dooley

Director: Emerald Fennell

Rating: R

Real life tragedies, especially one that's as sensationalized as the Miracle in the Andes, can be tough to depict on screen. On one hand, the film has to keep true to the story but also maintain some form of spectacle to keep people watching. Past depictions of the 1972 crash are preoccupied with the cannibalism portrayed by big name actors, but Society of the Snow takes a different route. The actors are newcomers, the threats to their lives don't require daring action stunts, and the cannibalism is limited to small chunks indistinguishable from animal meat. Instead, the spectacle of Society of the Snow is the human spirit– the vulnerability, the respect, and the generosity they've given each other in order to survive. It’s still an uncomfortable watch, especially since we get to know some of the survivors before the crash, but it’s definitely a transcendent addition to the genre dedicated to the miracle of existence.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Agustín Berruti, Agustín Della Corte, Agustín Lain, Agustín Pardella, Alfonsina Carrocio, Andy Pruss, Benjamín Segura, Blas Polidori, Carlos Miguel Páez Rodríguez, Daniel Patricio Antivilio Acuña, Diego Vegezzi, Emanuel Parga, Emanuel Sobré, Enzo Vogrincic, Esteban Bigliardi, Esteban Kukuriczka, Esteban Pico, Facundo Roure, Fede Aznárez, Felipe González Otaño, Felipe Otaño, Felipe Ramusio, Felipe Ramusio Mora, Fernando Contigiani García, Francisco Bereny, Francisco Burghi, Francisco Romero, Gustavo Zerbino Stajano, Jerónimo Bosia, Juan Caruso, Julian Bedino, Lautaro Bakir, Louta, Lucas Mascarena, Luciano Chattón, Mariano Rochman, Matías Recalt, Pablo Tate, Paula Baldini, Rafael Federman, Roberto Suárez, Rocco Posca, Santiago Vaca Narvaja, Simon Hempe, Sofía Lara, Tea Alberti, Tomas Wolf, Toto Rovito, Valentino Alonso, Virgínia Kauffmann

Director: J.A. Bayona

Rating: R

The colloquial phrase "May-December" refers to romantic partners with a large age gap, but leave it to Todd Haynes to craft a poetic and unsettling world out of this (slightly troubling) banality of life. His new film is loosely based on the real case of Mary Kay Letourneau, who in 1997 was convicted as a sex offender after being caught having a relationship with a minor, a student of hers, 12 years old (22 years her junior). May December begins twenty years after the tabloid scandal surrounding the marriage of Joe and Gracie has died down. Elizabeth, an actress, is conducting research in preparation to play Gracie in a film production, but she doesn't know what to expect. Alongside her, we are welcomed into the family home, meet their teenage children, sit through their family dinners, marvelling at the levity and nonchalant atmosphere in the air. Something is missing, or at least that's what Elizabeth suspects. A psychological drama-thriller-black comedy, May December is impossible to pin down. A profound film on human confusion, identities, and past traumas, it unites two of the best Hollywood stars, Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, in a delightfully eerie play of doubling and revelations.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Allie McCulloch, Andrea Frankle, Charles Green, Charles Melton, Chris Tenzis, Cory Michael Smith, D.W. Moffett, Drew Scheid, Elizabeth Yu, Gabriel Chung, Hailey Wist, Hans Obma, Joan Reilly, Jocelyn Shelfo, Julianne Moore, Julie Ivey, Kelvin Han Yee, Lawrence Arancio, Natalie Portman, Piper Curda, Zachary Branch

Director: Todd Haynes

Rating: R

When Big Tech and trolls have all but villainized the internet, it's hard to forget that good can come out of it sometimes. But Missing makes a case for its usefulness by making it the sole means by which an 18-year-old tries to find her missing mother. Played by Storm Reid, June Allen is endlessly creative in the digital sphere, which makes sense given she's from a generation that grew up with cutting-edge technology. She makes use of geotrackers, earth cams, and even digital watches to get ahead of the authorities, who for their part, are tied down by legalities and red tape. Missing shows us the potential of the internet, what it can do if used resourcefully and for good, and it's a refreshing take given the (understandably) many films that are fearful of tech. 

Missing embraces all this newness and builds a solid thriller out of it, making it a worthy and possibly seminal entry in the screenlife genre. 

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Amy Landecker, Briana McLean, Daniel Henney, Danielle Nottingham, Esteban Dager, Jalil Jay Lynch, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Javier Grajeda, Jill Remez, Joaquim de Almeida, Karina Noelle Castillo, Kelly Stables, Ken Leung, Kimberly Cheng, Lisa Yamada, Mauricio Mendoza, Megan Suri, Michael Segovia, Monica Bhatnagar, Nia Long, Oscar Camacho, Rick Chambers, Roy Abramsohn, Scott Menville, Sean O'Bryan, Storm Reid, Thomas Barbusca, Tim Griffin, Tracy Vilar, Wolfie Trausch, Zeke Alton

Director: Nicholas D. Johnson, Will Merrick

Rating: PG-13

, 2023

Time travelling movies tend to be flashy with its sci-fi wonder, but Aporia takes a more grounded approach to the time altering genre. Instead of time travelling, the protagonists have a mundane, almost lo-fi machine, that almost seems disappointing, but is no less life-altering. Of course, to the grieving Sophie, who lost her husband, it’s easy to understand why she would take the chance to get her husband back again. But the film takes a grounded and realistic approach as Sophie spirals into an unrelenting series of regret and trolley problems, each time she chooses to use the machine. While the pacing may be a tad slow, and the events can feel a bit mundane, Aporia is a startlingly poignant reminder of how each ordinary moment, if changed, can be completely life altering.

Genre: Drama, Science Fiction

Actor: Edi Gathegi, Faithe Herman, Judy Greer, Payman Maadi, Whitney Morgan Cox

Director: Jared Moshé

Rating: R

, 2023

Rewind picks up rather quickly with a marriage montage, invoking the infamous first 10 minutes of Up. But this is no classic Pixar tearjerker. This is a good old-fashioned Pinoy telenovela romance, featuring a life-changing car accident, a saint-like child, and an emotionally dead relationship. It explores a premise anyone can instantly connect with, which challenges the comforting notion that a quick burst of reparations makes up for a lifetime of errors. This touching story leaves little room for downtime, but every minute coasts on cheesy writing and a religious slant to deliver a didactic message straight out of a mildly entertaining homily.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Actor: Ariel Ureta, Chamyto Aguedan, Coney Reyes, Dingdong Dantes, Ina Feleo, JC Alcantara, Jordan Lim, Joross Gamboa, Lito Pimentel, Marian Rivera, Mary Joy Apostol, Neil Coleta, Pamu Pamorada, Pepe Herrera, Sue Ramirez

Director: Mae Cruz-Alviar

, 2023

Dream is a sports dramedy that is susceptible to a lot of the genre’s cliches. Yes, we follow Hong-dae’s journey from being an egomaniac lone wolf to an empathetic team player. Of course, we get to witness all the heartwrenching backstories of the homeless football members. And sure, we even see get to see ourselves in Lee So-min (IU), the hardworking filmmaker who puts her all into this documentary in the hopes that it could somehow pay off her student loan debt. These are plotlines you’ve heard of before, and there are holes in a lot of them (like how it criticizes documentaries for exploiting sob stories while doing the same in the film, for instance). But at the end of the day, Dream only wants to be an uplifting feel-good movie and in that regard, it succeeds immensely. Say what you want about Seo-joon and his exaggerated yell-all way of acting, but the man knows how to draw out a chuckle from even the most reserved viewer. And paired with IU, who brings with her a plucky charm, the two can command an audience any which way they want. If you’re looking for a serious deep dive into the world of sports, the deceit of documentaries, and the complex reality of homelessness, Dream touches on a bit of that but don’t expect it to fully deliver. However, if you’re looking for an easy watch filled with delightful performances and feel-good moments, then Dream is your film.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Baek Ji-won, Han Jun-woo, Han Sang-chul, Heo Joon-seok, Hong Wan-pyo, IU, Jeong Soon-won, Jeong Sun-won, Jo Woo-jong, Jun Suk-ho, Jung Seung-kil, Kang Ha-neul, Kim Il-jung, Kim Jong-soo, Kim Nam-woo, Ko Chang-seok, Lee Eun-jae, Lee Ha-nui, Lee Hae-woon, Lee Hyun-woo, Lee Ji-hyeon, Lee Seung-joon, Lee Yu-bi, Nam Min-woo, Park Hyeong-su, Park Hyoung-soo, Park Moon-sung, Park Myung-hoon, Park Seo-jun, Park Seong-jun, Song Yeong-sik, Yang Hyun-min, Yoon Ji-on, Yun Ji-on

Director: Lee Byeong-heon

From the director of Once and Sing Street comes Dublin-set Flora and Son, part love letter to music, part not-so-slick advertisement for Apple’s GarageBand. Eve Hewson plays the titular single mother, whose wayward 14-year-old son Max (Orén Kinlan) is one more slip-up away from being sent to youth detention. In an attempt to find an outlet for his unruly teenage energy, she salvages a beat-up guitar, but after he rejects it, there's nothing to do but give it a go herself — cue her belated moment of self-discovery.

Max’s anonymity in the title makes sense, then, because this is much more Flora’s story. However, while Hewson pours energy into the role, she can’t quite transcend the script's limits: Flora’s initial unlikeability (a little too emphatic), and the awkward attempts to roughen up a feel-good story with unconvincingly gritty elements. The film seems aware of audience expectations for a Carney joint, too, so it skips convincing dynamics and fleshed-out supporting characters in its rush to deliver musical setpieces (which never quite reach the catchy heights of Sing Street’s earworms, unfortunately). Still, there's real charm — and some compelling ideas about the magic of music — in here, especially once the film gets past its shaky first third and unabashedly embraces its feel-good heart.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music

Actor: Ailbhe Cowley, Aislín McGuckin, Amy Huberman, Don Wycherley, Eve Hewson, Jack Reynor, Joni Mitchell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Katy Perry, Keith McErlean, Kelly Thornton, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, Marcella Plunkett, Marcus Lamb, Margarita Murphy, Orén Kinlan, Paul Reid, Sophie Vavasseur

Director: John Carney

Rating: R

With every new Aardman production, their stop motion animation technique becomes more and more seamless, looking practically indistinguishable from the work being put out by other animation studios that use CG. However, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget also threatens to flatten into the same kind of entertainment churned out by other studios at a faster rate. There isn't as much personality to either the story or the art direction—which gave the first Chicken Run film such a sense of urgency—and any ideas about how one's radical beliefs are tested with age never really get off the ground. And yet, what Aardman is able to do with actual tactile models will never not be impressive, these rebellious chickens standing as a tribute to handcrafted storytelling that will never be replaced.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

Actor: Alison Dowling, Amy McAllister, Bella Ramsey, Daniel Mays, David Bradley, David Brooks, Harry McEntire, Imelda Staunton, Jane Horrocks, Josie Sedgwick-Davies, Julia Sawalha, Kate Harbour, Lynn Ferguson, Miranda Richardson, Naomi McDonald, Nick Mohammed, Peter Serafinowicz, Ramanique Ahluwalia, Rebecca Gethings, Romesh Ranganathan, Sam Fell, Sam Wilkinson, Sarah Counsell, Shobu Kapoor, Sudha Bhuchar, Tamaryn Payne, Thandiwe Newton, Tim Bentinck, Tom Doggart, William Vanderpuye, Zachary Levi

Director: Sam Fell

Rating: PG

With the rise of fascism globally, and concerns about an upcoming world war, depictions of World War II have become popular, with the most notable being Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Einstein and the Bomb instead takes a look at the prominent scientist, whose theory of relativity made the atomic bomb possible, who had a personal stake in ensuring the Nazis were defeated, but who also had to reckon with the horrific consequences in pursuing the West’s promises of peace. It’s a needed perspective, and director Anthony Philipson pulls from Einstein’s very words, his own ideas about the society at the time eerily echoing the concerns about today’s society. However, there’s something off about the way these ideas are presented, as it feels like the film was less interested in Einstein as a man, and more interested in using him as a spokesperson, using his image to cry over today’s conflicts.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Adolf Hitler, Aidan McArdle, Albert Einstein, Andrew Havill, Gethin Alderman, Helena Westerman, James Musgrave, Jonathan Rhodes, Leo Ashizawa, Rachel Barry, Simon Markey, Toby Longworth

Director: Anthony Philipson