Thanksgiving is all about family, friends, and food. And what better way to spend a day with loved ones than eating leftovers and at taking a stroll down memory lane looking at classic movie magic?
Since the history of cinema, studios have released films that celebrate the holiday spirit. And while Christmas tends to take most of the shine, plenty of projects starring Black actors have also centered around the themes of food and family that characterize Turkey day.
If there were ever a movie that screams Thanksgiving, it would be Soul Food. Starring Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Mekhi Phifer, and Irma P. Hall, this holiday drama told audiences everywhere to show gratitude for life, and the presence of your relatives. And there are plenty more in the Black cannon that are just like it.
Take a look at some of the best Black films to watch this Thanksgiving below.
‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’
This 1967 American film starred Sidney Poitier in his Oscar-winning role as Dr. John Wade Prentice. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner was one of the first films of the time to depict an interracial marriage in a positive light, as interracial marriage historically had been illegal in many states of the United States.
‘Who Made The Potatoe Salad?’
Starring Jaleel White and Jennia Frederique, this hilarious comedy tells the story of Michael, A San Diego policeman, travels to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving with his fiancée to meet her dysfunctional family and announce their engagement.
Produced by Kenneth and Tracey Edmonds, this film featured an ensemble cast which included Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Michael Beach, Mekhi Phifer, Jeffrey D. Sams, Irma P. Hall, Gina Ravera and Brandon Hammond. Written and directed by George Tillman Jr. in his major studio debut, the film centers on the trials of an extended African-American family, held together by long standing family traditions which begin to fade after the death of the family matriarch.
This classic NBC miniseries told the history of one of Motown’s longest-lived acts, The Temptations. Airing on November 1 and November 2, 1998, The miniseries was based upon Otis Williams’ book; and the focus of the story tended to be on Williams and Melvin Franklin, with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks seen as antagonists for much of the second half.
‘The Color Purple’
The Color Purple is a 1985 American epic coming-of-age period drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Menno Meyjes, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel of the same name by Alice Walker. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Whoopi Goldberg, Best Supporting Actress for both Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
‘She’s Gotta Have It’
Spike Lee’s first feature-length film told the story of Nola Darling, an artist in New York who lives a sexually liberated lifestyle. Throughout the film, she dates three men – the polite and well-meaning Jamie Overstreet; the self-obsessed model Greer Childs; and the young bicycle messenger Mars Blackmon. Nola is attracted to the best in each of them, but refuses to commit to any of them, cherishing her personal freedom instead, while each man wants her for himself. In 2017, Lee adapted the film into a Netflix series.
Occurring in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, during the summer of 1973, the film primarily focuses on a young girl named Troy Carmichael (played by Zelda Harris), and her family. Throughout the film, Troy learns life lessons through her rowdy brothers Clinton, Wendell, Nate, and Joseph; her loving but strict mother Carolyn (Alfre Woodard), and her naive, struggling father Woody (Delroy Lindo).
‘Best Man Holiday’
This sequel to 1999’s The Best Man stars Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa, all reprising their roles from the previous film. The Best Man Holiday was released on November 15, 2013, and received positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances of the cast.