As much as food is for the sense of taste, it can be enjoyed by one of the human race’s other senses: sight. That’s where the whole food porn thing comes from – we might not be able to taste the delicious tiramisu that Jamie Oliver just made, but we can watch him drizzle rich sauce all over it in closeup. With that in mind, a bunch of different movie producers have seen the market for food porn and built entire movies around it, whether it’s about the life of a chef or simply someone who loves food. So, here are the 10 best movies for foodies to enjoy!
Bradley Cooper might be in line for an Oscar next year – either for Best Actor or for Best Director – after directing his first ever movie in which he stars alongside Lady Gaga. His performance was just about the only thing that the critics enjoyed about this comedy. He plays a chef named Adam Jones who plans a comeback after his career finds itself in a slump. The movie was marred with all kinds of problems behind the scenes as the script they began shooting with was changed drastically over the course of production. So, Jamie Dornan shot some scenes that ended up being removed from the final cut and Lily James’ participation was reduced to a mere cameo appearance. The resulting movie was not well received by critics, but it was well received by foodies. Say what you will about the story and the character development in this movie, but there is no one who can deny that the cooking scenes are gorgeous. Also, by the end of the film, you feel inspired to get out there and learn to cook yourself. Okay, you’ll never be as good as Adam Jones is depicted to be in this movie, but you can sure try.
9. The Founder
Food snobs might look down on McDonald’s, but most foodies are unable to deny the pleasures of the Big Mac or the Chicken McNuggets or the Tastes of the World line. Even those who do hate McDonald’s will enjoy the story of its founding, since it’s just the tale of a family run burger restaurant that has started from humble beginnings and will eventually grow into one of the biggest corporations in the world. Michael Keaton stars as Ray Kroc, the guy who convinces Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch’s McDonald brothers to turn their small burger restaurant into a chain. The rest, of course, is history. The wonderful Linda Cardellini, B. J. Novak, and Laura Dern flesh out the cast. This movie ended Michael Keaton’s brief reign as an Oscar baiting actor. He starred in two Best Picture winners in a row, although he failed to pick up the Best Actor gong for either of them, and this was his “third time lucky” type bid to finally win an Oscar. Sadly, the critics didn’t take to it and neither did the audiences, so it was quickly buried and forgotten about. While it might not be Academy Award caliber stuff, this is still a good movie about one of the smartest entrepreneurs the fast food industry has ever known.
8. Marie Antoinette
It might have been a myth that Marie Antoinette ever said the words, “Let them eat cake!” due to a mistranslation, but that doesn’t mean that she never ate cake. This movie certainly has some beautiful cakes in it. The plot and the characters and the scandals and everything are all very interesting and cool, sure, but it’s mainly the cakes that make this a must see flick – especially for foodies! Sofia Coppola wrote and directed this biopic, set during the years leading up to the French Revolution, as a teen comedy. It has the lavish set design and historically accurate costumes of a serious, dramatic biopic, but it has the humor and the cast of a teen comedy. Stylistically, it is very interesting, to say the least. Of course, a movie with this tone could easily have failed, if the balance between the style and substance was not right. Luckily, Coppola is a pro and a visionary and it did all work out. Working from influences like Terrence Malick and Stanley Kubrick, she delivered a biopic that was entertaining, gorgeous, and a lot of fun. The cast has so many stars in it that you wonder how they got so many terrific actors to appear in the same movie: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Steve Coogan, Rip Torn, Rose Byrne, Asia Argento, Molly Shannon, Jamie Dornan, Tom Hardy, and more. It’s not hard to make historical movies fun, but Sofia Coppola manages it.
7. Eat Pray Love
Okay, only the “eat” part of this is really going to appeal to foodies. But the “pray” part is good for anyone who is into spirituality and religion, and the “love” part has something for everyone, since it’s something that we can all benefit from. All joking aside, this movie does have some really beautiful food moments. Julia Roberts stars as Elizabeth Gilbert, whose memoir the movie was based on, as she travels around the world to find herself and maybe learn the meaning of life. The movie cost $60 million to produce – probably a combination of paying the salary of one of the biggest A list stars in Hollywood and buying flights to get her from America to Italy to India to Indonesia – which paid off in the end as it grossed over $200 million at the global box office. While the critics didn’t adore the movie, it clearly found an audience. And it was shot by Robert Richardson, one of the greatest cinematographers working today. Robert’s supporting cast is filled with strong players: James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, and Javier Bardem. The “eat” part takes place in Italy. That’s where Julia Roberts learns the pleasures of food. So, if you get carried away and want to live it for yourself, the Italy scenes were shot in Rome and Naples. Have fun.
6. Julie and Julia
Amy Adams is often called the new Meryl Streep and this movie stars the two alongside each other. Streep plays a celebrity chef named Julia Child and the early days of her career are explored as a parallel to Adams’ character Julie Powell, who sets out to cook all 524 recipes in a cookbook written by Child in 365 days. She documents her journey on her blog and the blog makes her a published author and one of her publications becomes the source of this movie, so the whole thing becomes very cyclical and meta if you let it. The truth is, this is a lovely movie that honestly examines the lives of two very different women. It’s like two movies rolled into one. This movie also has the distinction of being the first ever major Hollywood movie to be adapted from a blog. It would sadly end up being the final film of Nora Ephron, the legendary director and champion of women in filmmaking, and it serves as a fine swansong for her career. Ephron could always be counted on for a strong female lead, so it’s only fitting that her final film would tell the stories of not one, but two strong female leads.
5. The Trip
A movie about Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon driving across the north of England and doing Roger Moore impressions over dinner doesn’t sound incredibly exciting, but Coogan and Brydon are unequivocally two of Britain’s funniest men, and not only that, once you get them together and start the ball rolling, they have terrific chemistry. They know each other well enough and have known each other for long enough that they’re comfortable making fun of each other, and that’s fun for us to watch. Much like Larry David or Christopher Guest, director Michael Winterbottom is of the opinion that the most hilarious and organic dialogue is that which is improvised during shooting. So, Winterbottom wisely just points one camera at Coogan and another camera at Brydon and just lets them get on with it, as far as dialogue is concerned. But he also positions some of his camera operators in the kitchens of the various restaurants that the two comics travel to, in order to capture some footage of the food getting prepared. When the waiters bring the food out and place it down in front of Coogan and Brydon, they explain how the dish was made and what the best way to consume it is. It’s all very expensive food and the portions are small, but it looks fantastic.
4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
If you love food, then you’ll surely love the animated movie about giant food falling out of the sky. Bill Hader is one of the funniest people in the world right now, and yet he is rarely given the opportunity to take center stage. He is either a strong supporting character, like he is in countless Apatow productions, or he is the co-lead, as he was in Amy Schumer’s movie debut. In the past few months, he has been acclaimed by critics and showered with awards for his work as the creator, writer, and star of his own HBO sitcom about an assassin who joins an improv comedy troupe. This animated movie about culinary weather stars Hader as an inventor named Flint Lockwood and it is a delightfully wacky parody of disaster movies. The voice cast is full of talent, both in the form of new names in comedy – Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, Will Forte – and older screen legends – Mr. T, Bruce Campbell, James Caan – as well as Neil Patrick Harris playing a monkey. The movie was successful enough to warrant a sequel in which the characters have to battle food monsters that have arisen as the result of yet another failed scientific experiment.
3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Anyone who likes chocolate or musicals will enjoy this movie, and if you like both chocolate and musicals (because who doesn’t?), then even better. This was the first adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, with this one placing more of an emphasis on the eccentric candy magnate Willy Wonka than on his new protege, Charlie Bucket. The remake was directed by Tim Burton and therefore had a darker, more gothic tone than this one. It starred Johnny Depp as Wonka, and while he did do a good job in the role, no one could replace Gene Wilder as cinema’s Willy Wonka. From the moment he pretends to fall over and then jumps back up, he solidifies himself as an exciting, unpredictable, crazy screen legend. All the talk of chocolate in this movie and the fact that they’re in a factory filled with rich, gloopy melted chocolate the whole time makes it a must see for any chocoholic. Also, pretty much anything with Gene Wilder in it is worth watching. Wilder passed away relatively recently, but he has left behind one heck of a legacy as a legend of both acting and comedy. He’s best remembered for his collaborations with Mel Brooks on parody movies, but his turn as Willy Wonka is one of the most memorable of his whole career.
The guys at Pixar often come up with premises that you have to take with a pinch of salt. For example, when the average moviegoer hears that a movie is coming out about an old man who makes his house float off into the sky using a few thousand helium balloons, they scoff at it. And then when the movie comes out, there they are in the crowd, bawling their eyes out, falling in love with the characters. The same thing happened with this effort from Brad Bird. It’s about a rat who wants to work in a kitchen and be a great chef more than anything in the world. Already, we’ve got the ultimate underdog – a rat is a kitchen’s worst nightmare, and he wants to work there! Patton Oswalt, one of the great alternative stand-up comics of our time, stars in the role of Remy and makes him a lovable and relatable and real character. Some people might dispute the idea that you can control the actions of someone’s entire body just by pulling their hair from under their hat, but that’s not the point. It’s not a movie about the physics of the human body; it’s a movie about following your dreams against all odds.
Jon Favreau is known typically for his big blockbuster movies. He directed the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the one that introduced moviegoing audiences to Robert Downey, Jr.’s wonderful Iron Man, so he is basically responsible for the biggest film franchise in the world right now, one that has kicked off a new trend in Hollywood. He also retold Mowgli’s story for Disney using brand new photorealistic shooting technology to make a CGI riddled set piece look like beautifully rendered live action footage. However, when he became a serious foodie a couple of years ago and grew obsessed with the art of cooking, he decided to make a movie with a smaller budget that would star himself as a chef who opens his own food truck. The movie is basically just two hours of food porn. It’s lavish, cinematic, gorgeously realized food porn. And while it was a smaller scale production than Favreau is used to, he managed to make the most of his Hollywood connections to surround himself with a star studded cast of supporting actors: Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, and Amy Sedaris, as well as Favreau’s MCU buddies Robert Downey, Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. The movie is funny and it’s just quirky enough to be amiable.