Top 10 Food Movies: Eat, Drink, Watch

Whether it's dinner and a movie or popcorn to munch on during the previews, your stomach is often tied to the cinematic experience. From the comic relief of Robin Williams cooking dinner dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire to Meg Ryan moaning over apple pie in When Harry met Sally, food can shape the story (Julie & Julia) or provide essential character development (Goodfellas). Food on screen is emotional, sensual, and often ridiculous, but it keeps us coming back to fill our plate with more.

When directors focus their films on cuisine, what takes the film from a movie with a food scene to a good food movie? Is it passion for cuisine, erotic scenes stretching the limitations of food, or a ridiculous use of food itself? In our opinion, a food movie may need great direction and a riveting story line, but what is really important are great food scenes: passionate, visual, sometimes absurd. So here are 10 of the best of the food film world.

Top 10 Food Movies: Eat, Drink, Watch

10. Delicatessen

Would you like a slice of maintenance man with your dinner tonight? In Jean-Pierre Jeunet's spin off of Sweeney Todd, grain is currency and meat is scarce(resulting in a future menu of Mr. Maintenance man). It may not rivet you with scenes of food or markets, and you probably won't finish the movie hungry, but this French black comedy wins points for it's scary portrayal of the could-be food system. Complete with butcher sessions and a visit from the Troglodistes, a group of underground vegetarian-rebels.

9. Simply Irresistible

Okay, while the less than inspired acting and lagging storyline would place this on few top ten film lists, Simply Irresistible has the over-the-top food scenes to make up for lack of fine cinematic glory. Loosely based on the novel Like Water for Chocolate, this is the story of Amanda, bitten by a magic crab that gives her cooking powers. Ridiculous enough? How about tear-causing soup, arousal-inducing eclairs, and clouds of perfumed smoke? Sarah Michelle Geller may not win an Oscar for this performance (who's counting anyway?), but the story is firmly based in the magic of food.

8. Big Night

Do you think it's alright to eat risotto alongside a plate of spaghetti and meatballs? The horror! If so, you'd learn a thing or two from watching Big Night, a movie doused in Italian reverence for food. The story is of two immigrant brothers, Primo, the prideful chef, and Secondo, the smooth-talking front man, who struggle to run a real Italian restaurant. Their Big Night comes with the chance to cook for famous singer Louis Primo, and they put everything into it, money, passion, themselves. Not to be missed are cooking scenes of the Italian dish timpano and Stanley Tucci with a hilarious Italian accent.

Rat and cook working together in Ratatouille.
Rat and cook working together in Ratatouille.

7. Ratatouille

A five-star meal in a fancy restaurant sounds great, but may not be so appetizing when you find the chef is a rat. While it's hard to stomach the idea of a cooking rodent, Disney's story of Remy, the rat, and his human cook accomplice Linguine, manage to make it's way into the top. With guidance from chef Thomas Keller, the food scenes in this animated film are spot on, from the way the cooks hold their chefs knives to the crunch of French bread. The drawings of the food seem more real than actual food and the description/creation of the French kitchen is accurate. Plus it's about a cooking rat, not a cooking pigeon (eww).

It's all about the food in Julie & Julia
It's all about the food in Julie & Julia

6. Julie & Julia

If you love food it's hard not to like this year's top food movie, the enchanting story of cookbook author Julia Child and food blogger Julie Powell. Vibrant scenes of Parisian markets, messy kitchens, and recipe cooking (by both Julie and Julia) fill most of the movie's 123 minutes. Julia wins with scenes depicting her first tastes of Dover Sole, her attempts at knife skills, and her rigorous recipe testing. Want to read the book? Skip the blogger's side of things and head directly for Julia's memoir, My Life in France.

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