Subsequent to the Golden Globes and SAG awards, with Oscar season in full swing, we've seen both good and bad films this year. With few exceptions though, movie theater food remains as uniformly vile as ever: Styrofoam packing chips doused with fake butter, called popcorn, and served in vats large enough to house a kiddie pool, Milk Duds, Twizzlers, and grainy red Icee drinks that smudge faces like clown make-up. Let's not forget about the puckered hot dogs tumbling on metal rollers and giant cement pretzels. The fact that the food people buy in movie theaters (and spill across the sticky floors) is prohibitively expensive doesn't help its cause.
For the price of a large popcorn and a big soda at the Arclight, one can smuggle in a homemade mortadella sandwich and a half-pint of bourbon. The Landmark is noted for having good eats — Hebrew National franks, La Brea bakery pretzels, and fancy imported sodas — but this Oscar season we wouldn't mind accompanying a few of the year's potential winners with something a little closer to home. Turn the page for a few suggestions…
5. Black Swan + fried chicken: Korean fried chicken from Kyochon. A spicy, saucy bird hacked up and fried harder than Natalie Portman's brain.
4. The Town + phở: While a meal of lime-spiked broth doesn't immediately appear to pair well with nuns machine-gunning their way through the streets of a New England town, Ben Affleck's movie is the cinematic equivalent of comfort food — you know it's nothing special, you've even seen it before, but you can't stop watching it — and phở is about as comforting as food gets. South El Monte is full of nice bowls.
3. True Grit + beef jerky: Beef jerky from A-and-Z Nut Wagon. You're going to want to “pull a cork” for this one too.
2. The King's Speech + pork belly: A fried baton of pork belly courtesy of Waterloo & City. Gnawing on this high-calorie catastrophe will render you speechless, not a bad thing if you're in a theater.
1. Inception + lasagna cupcakes: With its somewhat ponderous “explanation” sequences, gut-busting Matrix-worship, and scenes within scenes, Inception “watches” like a turducken, albeit a well-prepared one. The only problem is, carting a Frankenbird into a theater is a tough proposition. Try instead lasagna cupcakes by Heirloom-L.A. — perhaps the short rib and robiola or the sage, pumpkin, brown butter, and smoked mozzarella. They're pocket-sized yet layered, practical yet splashy, just unusual enough without sacrificing convenience.