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This Thanksgiving, Have a Cinematic Feast

by Sarah Soliman

A few days from now, you’ll likely be sitting at a table with family and friends, carving a turkey, and pouring gravy over potatoes. Instead of a more traditional list of Thanksgiving recommendations (you can read our Fall Films blog for some inspiration on that front), we started thinking about the real star of Thanksgiving: the food. If you want to get excited about the meal you’re about to eat, or, if after dinner you still find yourself able to think about food, here are some films featuring the prominent elements of a Thanksgiving feast.    

Bread: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (PG-13)

When you think about bread on Thanksgiving what comes to mind is probably rolls or biscuits or cornbread (which I choose to believe are all part of life in the Shire.) But the bread in The Lord of the Rings films is the elven lembas bread, which makes its first appearance in The Fellowship of the Ring and then sustains Sam and Frodo as they make their long journey over the next two films. The bread even plays an important part in the emotional dynamics of the characters. And bread aside, a regular day for hobbits involves seven meals. These guys would be Thanksgiving all-stars — while us mere humans would already be succumbing to our post-turkey naps, they’d just be getting started.  

Soup: Tampopo (Unrated)

Cold weather and soup is basically an unbeatable combination, and soup makes for a delicious addition to any Thanksgiving menu. The soup at your meal might not be ramen, but if we’re talking about soup on film, it simply doesn’t get better than Tampopo. The film tells the tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle-shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe. This “ramen western” will make your mouth water.  

Turkey: Krisha (R)

What would Thanksgiving be without a little anxiety and family discord? Krisha, the only film on this list that centers around an actual Thanksgiving, also depicts the holiday as something of a nightmare. Krisha is about a woman who unexpectedly shows up at her sister’s door after a long absence from her family’s life. An alcoholic and drug-addict, she tells them she has been away healing and wants a second chance. Often shot like a horror film, Krisha features what is surely cinema’s most harrowing scene of removing a turkey from the oven. 

Mashed potatoes: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (PG)

Nobody has ever been as focused on mashed potatoes as Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A dependable crowd-pleaser, and whether you eat them or build alien-inspired mountains out of them is up to you. 

Corn: Field of Dreams  (PG)

Petition to make the motto of Thanksgiving: “If you cook it, they will come.” Sure, the corn in Field of Dreams remains unshucked and uncooked, but that’s got to be the most important cornfield in all of film history. As a bonus, Field of Dreams is a pretty sure bet if you need a film the whole family can watch.       

Macaroni and cheese: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (R)

When you’re cooking an enormous meal, sometimes you need certain elements of that meal to be easier. And sometimes, as with macaroni and cheese, you want the stuff that comes out of the box, rather than a fancier homemade version. In Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Brad Pitt’s Clint Booth is a no-frills kind of guy, which is exemplified in a scene where he comes home to a messy trailer, dumps a hunk of wet food into the bowl for his Pit Bull Brandy, and makes himself Kraft mac and cheese, which he eats right out of the pot. Even under the most unappetizing of circumstances, that boxed mac and cheese still looks pretty good.     

Pie: Waitress (PG-13)

Just like Tampopo is the definitive soup movie, Waitress is the definitive pie movie, making it a perfect match for the most important pie holiday of the year. Small-town waitress Jenna is stuck in an abusive marriage and unhappily pregnant. The brightest spot in her life is the unusual pies she concocts and bakes — and which are eventually her salvation. The movie balances a mix of dramatic, comedic, and sweet tones, and after watching it you’ll wish Jenna could bake an array of pies for your Thanksgiving dessert.