Sign up for the
and get $50 off Final Draft 12
By Steph Greegor · April 28, 2015
Food. It’s the star of nearly every event mankind can drum up. What would Super Bowl Sunday be without hot wings? Or Thanksgiving Day without turkey? And just like the tree in the forest – is it really a celebration if no one has eaten cake? I think not.
So, it’s no surprise that food factors into the Hollywood landscape of cinematic art, from delightful desserts to the savory recipes of one Mrs. Julia Childs. And often, the relationship with food underscores our own relationships in life. So, this weekend, grab your favorite meals, your favorite snacks, and your favorite sweets, along with these top 10 food flicks, and get ready for a culinary adventure that stimulates all your senses.
10. Chef (2014)
Jon Favreau is a personal favorite – I loved him in the The Replacements (2000) (“Are you gonna get me the ball?” “I’m gonna get you the ball!”) – and I enjoy his turn as a chef in this slow, but delightful, food flick that earned mostly positive critical reviews. Unlike the negative food critic who brought down Favreau’s character in the movie, calling him a washed-up, has-been cooking the same menu over and over again. What I really liked about this flick was that Favreau’s redemption lies in a food truck. The popular trend has hit the nation and everyone has a food truck these days, taking some of the best culinary delights from the table to the streets. But, perhaps, the most charming part of the movie is the father-son relationship, where, by the end of the movie, Favreau’s character finally understands that he needs to be a father before he’s anything else.
9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
There’s the continental divide, the mathematical divide and the Gene Wilder/Johnny Depp divide. I fall to the Johnny Depp side of that infamous divide, where Depp’s take on Willy Wonka is so delightfully strange and weird that I simply cannot turn away. And where did he come up with that voice? Unlike Pirates of the Caribbean (2003), it definitely was not inspired by Keith Richards. Most critics gave the film a positive review and the dark sweetness of the flick earned it over $475 million at the box office. How do you like your chocolate? In this case, delightfully dark, with a dash of comic relief and a sprinkle of heartfelt warmth, thank you.
8. Julie & Julia (2009)
The Oscar nominated performance of Meryl Streep as Julia Childs is the main reason this delightful food comedy makes the list. The $129 million it’s made worldwide helps, too. Streep, one of the finest actors of our time, delivers not only physical comedy with her large, rounded frame amongst the wee, tiny French, but she gives you every reason to actually want to cook – it looks fun when Streep does it! I wonder if her turn in this yummy cinematic delight inspired her turn as a successful baker in the equally delicious It’s Complicated (2009). Chocolate croissant, anyone?
7. Sideways (2004)
This wine-based flick earned the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and a nod for Best Picture. For wine lovers, the most damning part of this dramedy is when the main protagonist, played by Paul Giamatti, drinks his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, from a disposable coffee cup. I’m pretty sure that breaks a wine commandment, right? “Thou shalt only drink wine from the proper glass, you unsophisticated fool!” Still, this character drama, which follows a wine aficionado on his downward spiral, is a relatable mid-life crisis journey that carries the bold flavor of humor with a strong note of honesty.
6. Soul Food (1997)
Ah, yes. Sunday dinner. I remember my Grandma used to host a Sunday dinner and it was, in fact, nearly identical to Soul Food. On the surface, it seems like a friendly family gathering enjoying a delightful dinner together. But then crazy uncle Henry loses his shit over the gravy and your long-lost cousin isn’t so lost anymore as she walks in with her new boyfriend who happens to be your sister’s former flame, and that’s about the time Gramps pulls out his shotgun and everybody runs for cover. What? Just me? OK, then, moving on.
The beautiful complexity of flavors in the weekly supper pale in comparison to the dynamic complexity of family relationships. This critically acclaimed flick was praised for showing the African-American community in a more positive light. And its positive family message earned it a following, a series, and over $43 million at the box office.
5. Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
This Taiwanese film directed by Ang Lee was a critical and box office success, earning it the Asia Pacific Film Festival Award for Best Film in 1994 and an Academy Award nod for Best Foreign Language Film in 1995. The protagonist is a master Chef who has three unmarried daughters and, much like Soul Food (1997 – see No. 6) has a weekly torture chamber, er, I mean, family dinner, to eat, drink and discuss. In this case, the movie looks at how the three daughters continually challenge their father’s traditional way of thinking, over delightful cuisine, of course. Somehow food makes everything better. And fortune cookies. Fortune cookies have determined most of my life.
4. Chocolat (2000)
There’s a reason this sensually divine date-night flick earned five Academy Award nods, including Best Picture – it’s a fantastic story of empowerment wrapped up in the sinfully delicious affect chocolate has on its unassuming victims. In this case, Juliette Binoche tempts an entire town to enjoy her delightful, chocolate treats during lent. As they do, one-by-one, the townspeople each have life-changing experiences as they open up emotionally, thanks to opening themselves up to the enjoyment of chocolate. And, let’s be honest, nothing is more sensual than watching someone slowly and smoothly delight themselves in tasting chocolate (I’m talking to you, Johnny Depp). Whew, is it hot in here, or is that just Johnny?
3. Mystic Pizza (1988)
Before Julia Roberts became a prostitute in Pretty Woman (1990), she was slingin’ pizza in Connecticut at the Mystic Pizza, a real-live pizza joint, though the story is fictional. The film released to critical success, but not so much at the box office – only $12 million for a slice of romantic comedy. Roberts now commands double that at $25 million per film, after earning just $50,000 for Mystic. The delightful coming-of age flick centers on a secret spice that the owner won’t tell anyone. Eventually, that secret spice is the thing that the world-renowned food critic, “Everyday Gourmet,” announces as superb, and brings in more business just as the girls all find their way in the world. I didn’t realize pizza could do all that. Hang on a sec while I go do something real quick… <Looks up number for Donatos> …
2. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
The defining scene of this movie is when we realize the antagonist of the movie has been BBQ-d. You read that right. Fried Green Tomatoes was BBQ-ing humans long before Zombies started eating them. So, when it comes to food films, this fact alone, makes this a must-have on my list. And while critics were generally positive about the movie, it was criticized for glossing over the lesbian relationship of the two main characters, which is clearly spelled out in the book the movie is based on, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.” A food movie of BBQ, tomatoes and honey, it earned Jessica Tandy a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nod and over $119 million at the box office.
1. Waitress (2007)
Keri Russell is so good, SO GOOD, in this comedy that features every kind of pie you can think of and then some. Russell plays a woman who wants to leave her husband, but she can’t do it until she’s saved enough money. So, she enters a pie contest worth $25,000 to get the job done. This beautifully written flick by the late Adrienne Shelly received a best screenplay nod from the 23rd Independent Spirit Awards. The scrumptious pies show how food is often a channeling mechanism for emotion; and, sometimes, how baking is a cheaper form of therapy – though maybe not so great for your clothes where an expanding waistline might cost you a new wardrobe.