There have been iconic scenes made out of just about any household activity. Helen Parr made vacuuming exciting and cinematic with her stretchy arms and the fact that her husband could lift the whole couch for her to vacuum under without looking up from his newspaper. A number of filmmakers have made beautiful and memorable sequences out of cooking. There have been movie scenes where prisoners show us that they’ve spent their stint in jail learning how to cook, and scenes of grown men being terrified of the lobsters crawling around the kitchen. These are the 10 greatest cooking scenes in movie history.
This adaptation of Roald Dahl’s literary classic is one of the most enjoyable and timeless kids’ movies ever made. It is entertaining for audiences of all ages, thanks to great performances from a cast that includes Danny DeVito, who also directed it, and Rhea Seehorn, and of course, leading lady Mara Wilson. There are many memorable food scenes in the movie, including the pancake scene and the chocolate cake scene. The latter is both funny and excruciating, as Bruce Bogtrotter is forced to eat an inordinate amount of cake as punishment – and if that doesn’t sound like much of a punishment, then you haven’t seen how much cake he has to eat. But one of the food preparation scenes stands out above all the rest, because of its contributions to the plot. The scene in which Matilda makes herself some Cheerios is great, because it’s not just a fun moment – it’s also an important part of the story. This is the scene where she discovers her telekinetic powers. And she doesn’t use those powers to fight crime or exact revenge on her enemies (although she does get to that a little later) – as a lot of foodies might do, she uses those powers to make herself a bowl of cereal.
9. Raging Bull
When Martin Scorsese makes a biopic of somebody, he does not sensationalize them or make a celebration of them that washes over all of their flaws and all the bad times in favor of a glitzy tribute like the recent Freddie Mercury biopic. Instead, what Scorsese does is find out what his subject’s biggest flaws are – like Henry Hill’s infidelities and drug addiction or Jordan Belfort’s greed and corruption, for example – and he capitalizes on them to deliver a poignant and honest character study of a true life figure. The director has given us some of his greatest masterpieces that way. He also uses everyday situations to bring out the worst in his characters. In this scene from his acclaimed black and white biopic of boxer Jake LaMotta, the guy having a steak cooked for him by his wife devolves into a vicious act of domestic violence. Scorsese shows us just how terrible this guy is from how violent he becomes as a result of an argument about how long a steak should remain in the pan. And that’s just the beginning. This is where is all starts. It gets a whole lot worse from there. This is the beginning of his downfall.
8. This is the End
As satisfying as it is to watch Danny McBride get a dozen pans on the go, cooking all kinds of bacon and eggs and pancakes and steak, it is also horrifying. You can’t help crying out, “NOOO!!!” The problem is that while McBride’s intentions are lovely and he just wants to make breakfast for all his friends, he’s actually screwing them all over. What he doesn’t realize, because he spent the night too drunk and drugged up at a party he wasn’t invited to, is that the world has ended. The apocalypse has begun and all the other guys, who are still asleep, rationed out all their food before they went to bed to make sure it would last them for months. And now, McBride is cooking it all, so it won’t last them for a single day. McBride’s introduction is one of the funniest scenes in the movie as he thinks the guys are all still drunk and high when they try to tell him that the world has ended. He has a bite of bacon and they try force him to spit it out, so he spitefully sprays bacon bits all over the breakfast table. Moments later, they’re playing soccer with a man’s decapitated head. It’s a hilariously dark movie.
Sir Anthony Hopkins managed to take home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his first performance as infamous serial killer Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter, the psychotic psychiatrist turned bloodthirsty killer, with just under twenty minutes of combined screen time. The movie was a huge hit, both with critics and with audiences, and so the studio would have been crazy not to bring him back to the role in various sequels and prequels. This one casts Julianne Moore as the cop chasing him and one particularly disturbing scene revolves around cooking. Dr. Lecter is a truly talented cook with a real eye for cuisine. He knows all of the greatest cooking techniques and how to do them properly. He knows the perfect wine to pair all of his foods with. In this scene, he cuts off the top of a man’s head while he is still alive and conscious, and then cooks up slices of his brain on a hotplate. It’s really horrifying to watch, but there is something hauntingly beautiful about it. It’s a far cry from eating a census worker’s liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti, but nothing gets between Hannibal Lecter and his delectable human flesh.
6. Back to the Future Part II
This movie’s view of the society of the future is not exactly how that future panned out. In the 2015 of this movie’s timeline, there are flying cars stopping at red lights in the middle of the sky and interchangeable views outside of windows. Some of the technologies in the fictional 2015 were available in the real 2015, like video conferencing and the ability to watch a few TV channels at once. There is one thing in the fictional 2015 that hadn’t quite been perfected by our 2015. It may be a long time off, but people enjoy fast food enough for the technology to be on its way. In the dinner scene, Lorraine takes a little pocket pizza, puts it into an oven, and about thirty seconds later, a huge, juicy, beautiful, hot, steaming pizza pops out. We are a long way away from having this kind of technology in our homes. It’s not just the special little pizza that becomes ten times its original size in seconds – it’s the oven that does it. It has to be able to enlarge things and cook them and do it all in a matter of moments. For now, we have the scene in the movie.
This 2011 instant classic directed by Paul Feig and starring Kristen Wiig can be attributed with not only making Wiig a viable movie star, which we are all thankful for, but also with bringing on the current wave of female led comedies. While comedy movies starring men had been tanking at the box office, this powerhouse came along charged to a worldwide gross of almost $300 million. The comedy community hasn’t looked back – Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon Covey, and countless other stars broke out from this movie. In the glorious cooking sequence in this movie, Annie only makes one cupcake. She used to run a bakery with big, fat, industrial ovens, making those cupcakes for dozens of customers at a time, but now, she’s completely on her own. She gets out a big bag of flour and a big bag of sugar and a big mixing bowl and a big baking tray and then it is revealed that she has only actually made one solitary cupcake. And then she just tucks right into it. So, it’s symbolic of how alone she is, which is sad, but ultimately leads to her happy ending, so it’s also wonderful.
When the first trailer for this Pixar animated movie was released, a lot of people scoffed at the idea of a rat controlling a chef with his hair. The human body doesn’t work like that. You can’t make the chopping of onions finer or the sautéing of garlic smoother just by pulling someone’s hair. But these are the same people who scoffed at the first trailer for a movie about a guy who uproots his house from its foundations with hundreds of balloons and uses them to fly his house to a tropical paradise. The defense in both is the same: it’s not about logic. It’s not about whether a rat can tug on someone’s hair and make them automatically cook delicious food and it’s not about whether that many balloons could lift a house of that size off the ground. It’s about finding your place in an environment that you dream to be a part of but that wants to reject you and it’s about escaping from the stranglehold of modern life and fulfilling your dead wife’s childhood wishes, respectively. That’s what makes the scene of Remy cooking so spectacular. He’s finally working in a top class kitchen and doing what he loves.
Jonah Hill and Emma Stone were reunited recently for the first time in over ten years as they starred alongside one another in a weird dark comedy series on Netflix, but it was this movie, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg when they were just thirteen years old, that gave them both their start in the movie business. Their characters’ initial “meet cute” moment in this hit R rated teen comedy takes place during a home economics class. For all of its crass jokes and explicit language, paired with its lead characters’ obsession with losing their virginity, this movie might get shrugged off by the passing viewer as a sex comedy. But it’s actually a lot sweeter than that. Hill’s character has a lot of genuine affection for Stone’s character. She starts off as the object of his desire, but their relationship becomes a lot deeper than that over the course of the movie. The home-ec scene where they cook a tiramisu together has everything that makes this movie great: it has vulgar humor, moments of sweetness, moments of awkwardness, Jonah Hill being Jonah Hill, Emma Stone being Emma Stone, Michael Cera being Michael Cera, and of course, McLovin.
2. Annie Hall
Woody Allen’s romantic comedy masterpiece was showered with awards and critical acclaim back in 1977. It beat George Lucas’ space opera set in a galaxy far, far away to the Academy Award for Best Picture and Diane Keaton’s title character became a style icon for indie women in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Hell, her bohemian influence on fashion can still be seen today. One of the movie’s funniest and most iconic moments is when Alvy and Annie are trying to cook lobsters together. They chase them around the kitchen and Alvy is terrified of them and it is very funny, very sweet, and very romantic. As we see later as Alvy attempts to recreate the moment with a different girl, it is also the moment that best exemplifies how much these two are meant to be together and how special their relationship is. He and Annie joke around with the lobsters and make a fun adventure out of it. They say fun things like, “Talk to him, you speak shellfish!” But the other girl that Alvy cooks lobsters with just isn’t as into it. She just says, “Are you joking or what?” It’s one of the most iconic cooking moments from movies.
Martin Scorsese just has a way of making anything look glamorous with the iconic crooners on his soundtrack and his cinematic shooting style and his erratic editing. In this movie, which is possibly his finest work and is definitely his most entertaining, Scorsese makes prison life look glamorous. A lot of his mafioso characters are taken down by the feds and thrown into the slammer. While they’re in there, Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill gets his wife to sneak in vegetables and other ingredients when she comes to visit him and he and the rest of his mobster friends learn how to cook in prison. There’s that beautiful shot of the garlic being sliced really thin with a razor blade. Any foodie watching that shot will just melt in their seat. And that’s just one scene in a nearly two and a half hour roller coaster ride that takes audiences through the rise and fall of an infamous gangster, ending with his tragic downfall and the crashing down of his various clashing moral conflicts. It is without a doubt one of the greatest movies of all time, so it’s only fitting that it should feature the most incredible food scene from any movie ever.