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I thought I had seen all the food movies out there, but it turns out I haven’t. When I started my search I found more than fifty, and that is without including documentaries. So I will start with twenty-five and get to the rest later on. I have actually watched and enjoyed twenty-four out of the twenty-five movies I listed here.
Some of these movies feature food and chefs prominently as the main focus of the story, some feature them as part of the story, and some feature food as a background. But all of them make you want to either cook, eat, or both.
Ready? Let’s roll.
Fast becoming a classic, this movie intertwines the true stories of food lover, blogger and author Julie Powell, and the woman who taught America to cook: Julia Child.
In an attempt balance out her unhappy work life, Julie challenges herself to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s first book and, in order to hold herself accountable, decides to blog about the process. In another time-space bubble, Julia Child goes from passionate eater to passionate chef during her years in Paris, and connects with two fellow French foodies with whom she writes the book that turned her into a legend.
Julia Child is brilliantly played by Meryl Streep, while Julie Powell is played by the also brilliant Amy Adams. Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina co-star, also giving masterful performances.
The story follows the Kadam family who, after tragedy strikes their modest restaurant in India, decide to find a new life in a small country town in France, where they open a new restaurant right across that of famous Chef Madame Mallory – holder of a prestigious Michelin star.
I have written a full review about this award-winning movie in which Helen Mirren leads a wonderful cast. You can read the review here.
Set in the world of French haute cuisine, the movie follows the antics and hilarious drama of a famous three-star chef as he is threatened with the loss of one of his precious stars by his restaurant’s group new CEO, who is deviously trying to bring in a young chef specializing in molecular cuisine.
Jan Reno does a magnificent job at playing the great chef Alexandre Lagarde, and alongside him is the also brilliant Michaël Youn, who plays the part of Jacky Bonnet, a younger man with a deep passion and talent for cooking in general, and the cuisine of Chef Lagarde in particular.
I have written a full review of this movie as well, and you can read it here.
The American version of the original Eat Drink Man Woman, featured right below, as they are both wonderful.
A widowed Mexican-American Chef (Hector Elizondo) finds himself losing his ability to taste food and wonders about his life and future, while his three grown daughters (Jacqueline Abraders, Elizabeth Peña and Tamara Mello) tackle their own personal challenges.
In this original movie directed by Ang Lee, the story is set in Taiwan and follows the challenges of Master Chef Chu (Sihung Lung), his three unmarried daughters (Chien-Lien Wu, Kwei-Mei Yang and Yu-Wen Wang), and the weekly ritual of Sunday dinner.
This movie is just as delightful as Tortilla Soup, and you get to enjoy wonderful Chinese food instead.
In Los Angeles, four families from four different ethnic groups, gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. And you know what happens when family come together right? Drama happens!
With a stellar cast that includes Mercedes Ruehl, Joan Chen, Will Yun Lee, Lainie Kazan, Kyra Sedgwick, Julianna Margulies, Dennis Haysbert and Alfree Woodard, this is another of my favorite dramedies revolving around food, and it’s perfect for Thanksgiving Day!
Winds of change bring the beautiful Vianne to a small, old-fashioned French town. A master chocolatier, Vianne (Juliette Binoche) stirs in her magic in her chocolate concoctions, temping the town into abandoning their tight stance and giving into happiness. Then a handsome stranger (Johnny Depp) arrives on a boat… and all chocolate breaks loose!
Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Leslie Caron and Dame Judy Dench bring their considerable talents to the story.
I just know you all know THIS movie and how indulgently delicious it is. Just a little reminder: watch it with some chocolates or chocolate cake by your side.
Stranded in Tokyo after being abandoned by her boyfriend, spoiled American girl Abby (Brittany Murphy) finds comfort in a local ramen shop and, without speaking Japanese, talks the grumpy chef (Toshiyuki Nishida) – who does not speak a word of English – into teaching her the art of making ramen.
An absolutely delightful comedy-drama-love story, as such is life.
In 1967 England, nine-year-old Nigel (Freddie Highmore) has a passion for food and cooking that just keeps growing. When his father remarries after Nigel’s mother dies, Nigel finds himself competing for his father’s attention with his new stepmother (Helena Bonham Carter), who is a superb cook. When he gets a weekend job in a pub’s kitchen, Nigel meets an older boy who helps him find the courage and inspiration to leave home and head for London’s hotels’ kitchens and his future.
For forty years, Mama Joe (Irma P. Hall) has gathered her family around her for Sunday dinner. When she is hospitalized, the tradition holding the family together is gone and things start falling apart. It will be soul food that will bring them all back together again.
Starring Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia long, Michael Beach and Makhi Phifer among others, this award winning movie also sparked a TV series by the same name.
Who says rats can’t be great chefs? This delightful Disney-Pixar movie follows Remy, a young rat of refined palate, to Paris in order to pursue his true passion for cooking. Through a series of unexpected events that turn the restaurant world a bit upside down, Remy manages to make an unusual friendship with a young kitchen worker in a famous restaurant.
With voices by Patton Oswald (Remy), Ian Holm (Skinner), Lou Romano (Linguini), Brian Dennehy (Django) and Peter O’Toole (Anton Ego) among others.
When her sister dies in an accident, Martha (Martina Gedeck), a headstrong and talented chef in a popular restaurant, finds herself the guardian of her young niece (Maxime Foerste), with all the tension and drama that this will bring. Until an Italian sous-chef (Sergio Castellitto) arrives on the scene, soothing both aunt and niece with opera music, spaghetti and divine tiramisú.
The Hollywood version of Mostly Martha, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones (Kate) and Aaron Eckart (Nick). The names change, as do the locations, but the story remains essentially the same, and this movie is just as delightful as its original, award winning inspiration.
Abigail Breslin co-stars as Zoe, Kate’s young niece.
Phenomenal woman Queen Latifah plays Georgia Byrd, a cookware salesclerk with a passion for cooking in a New Orleans’ department store. When she finds out she has less than a month to live, Georgia decides to blow her savings and live it up in a posh European Hotel where her idol, Chef Didier (Gérard Depardieu) works. LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Giancarlo Esposito and Alicia Witt costar in this hilarious comedy that will have you yearn to hit a farmers’ market and get cooking.
Originally titled “No Ordinary Trifle”, this fun movie follows the story of talented London chef Rob Haley (Dougray Scott) as he tries to get both his life and career back together after losing his wife. After turning a country pup into a gourmet restaurant, his abilities catch the attention of an American food critic (Claire Forlani) and… well, the title is Love’s Kitchen isn’t it.
Simon Callow plays a famous British food critic and Gordon Ramsay plays himself.
Original title: Como Agua para Chocolate.
In Mexico of 1910, at a time when marriage rules are strict, Tita (Lumi Cavazos) is not allowed to marry the man she loves, Pedro (Marco Leonardi), who is coerced into marrying her older sister instead. When Tita is forced to use her culinary talents to make the wedding cake, she discovers she can do unusual things with food, as the wedding guests become overcome with her sadness.
Inspired by the book by Frances Mayes, this famous movie follows Frances (Diane Lane) as she impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany with the yearning to change her life following an unexpected and heartbreaking divorce. As she brings the old house back to life, Frances also comes back to herself surrounded by the beautiful Tuscan hills and cooking good food for friends old and new.
The movie is made richer by the talents of Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan, Raoul Bova, Vincent Riotta and Pawel Szajda, among others.
Already featured in My Top Ten Favorite Comedy Movies post, this movie belongs in this category as well because of all the gorgeous food that Meryl Streep’s character is constantly cooking. And don’t you just love that bakery?
The story takes you through the complications of a ten-year divorced couple that experience a new spark while at their youngest son’s college graduation.
Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Lake Bell, Mary Kay Place, Rita Wilson, Hunter Parrish, Zoe Kazan and Caitlin Fitzgerald all add to the fun.
Admittedly, I still have to watch this movie, though it’s at the top of my Netflix list. As per a short synopsis on imdb, “A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.”
The cast is talented and lots of fun: John Favreau, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johannsson and young Amjay Anthony.
Based on the even more famous autobiographical book by Elizabeth Gilbert, this movie follows Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) as she takes a year-long hiatus from her life and career to travel around the world and reconnect with her true self. The destinations are Italy, India and Bali, with each place yielding its own gift of nourishment, connection and love.
Inevitably, while in Italy, a lot of luscious food is involved, which is why this movie makes this list.
Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, James Franco, Richard Jenkins and Javier Bardem costar.
Diane Keaton brilliantly plays the part of a well-meaning but meddling mother who keeps interfering in her grown daughter’s (Mandy Moore) love life in an attempt to ‘steer her in the right direction’, or what she thinks is the right direction. Both mother and daughter share a passion for food and baking in particular, and Milly (Moore) owns a catering business.
Gabriel Macht, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo, Stephen Collins and young Ty Panitz costar in this fun comedy laced with good food and fabulous looking cakes.
Original title: Io sono l’amore.
Tilda Swinton plays Emma Recchi, a Russian woman who, twenty years earlier, married Italian industrialist Tancredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono). Now the mother of three children, Emma is a respected member of the Milanese high society, yet she is confused and unfulfilled. Then a talented young chef (Edoardo Gabbriellini) appears in her life, bringing passion and indulgent food along with his sensuous self.
In Sofia Coppola’s retelling of this famous story, Kirsten Dunst plays teenager Marie Antoinette as she becomes engaged and them marries Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) surrounded by the sumptuous, indulgent and outlandish court at Versailles.
A different take on an old story, the movie is filled with exquisite costumes and scenes that are a photographer’s delight, and such an abundance of beautiful cakes and pastries that you will either want to dash to the nearest patisserie, or swear off dessert for life… well, for a month.
Original title: Babettes Gæstebud.
In a remove village in 19th century Denmark, two sisters (Bodil Kjer and Birgitte Federspiel), who could not marry the men they loved in order to care for their father, take in Babette (Stéphane Audran), a French refugee, who accepts to work as their maid servant. Sometime after their father’s death, the sisters decide to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday, and Babette offers to prepare a real feast.
Jenna (Keri Russell) is an unhappily married waitress working at Joe’s diner who hopes to win a pie-baking contest as the prize money would allow her to leave her husband. Things get complicated when she finds herself pregnant, and an attractive new doctor comes to town.
You may know some of these movies, possibly even all. But I still hope to have provided you with a good list, and even some new (to you) titles. I would love to hear how you enjoyed the ones you watched, and even if you have suggestions of your own. I am preparing another list with the rest of the food movies, and will be posting it soon.
A little notice: remember to have something good to eat within reach when you watch any of these movies. Other than that, have fun!
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