Food means so much to so many people. It represents a hobby, a career, a culture. There are plenty of films about food from a variety of perspectives, from those eating it to those creating this edible art. All over the world people are making movies about the things they like to consume and the kinds of social reactions that occur thanks to this fantastic conversation catalyst.
No matter which angle these productions take on the classic topic of food, each one offers its voice from a background that audiences might not have previously appreciated. Indeed, it’s the audience that ultimately decides the rankings of Ranker and these releases are at the top of their most popular choices.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009)
One of the most underrated movies from Sony Pictures Animation Studios, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs launched its creative team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller thanks to the creativity, humor, and heart that was imbued into this wacky piece.
With Flint the scientist building a machine that can quite literally make it rain down food, an adventure ensues as the world is overtaken by this culinary chaos. It’s vibrant, fast-paced and although it’s not directly about cooking and the food experience, it hosts plenty of edible action moments.
Today’s Special (2009)
This indie film will very much connect audiences with the emotional aspect of cooking, how it can link someone back to their heritage and culture while awakening a passion within them again. Set in Manhatten, its lead, Samir, is rejuvenated thanks to the food he begins to cook.
It’s a pathway back to both his Indian family and his country of origin, but it also reflects on the hybrid nature of New York which rightly celebrates its diversity. The food looks stunning and the heartwarming production is both inspiring and perfect for playing upon the kinds of themes seen in this genre of production.
While it may not be a film that many have heard of, this coming-of-age story packs quite an impressive cast including Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long, and David Koechner. It’s set in an American diner-esque restaurant where its employees are the center of the narrative.
Here, the crew serving tables try to get to their next paycheck, messing around and having fun as they avoid boredom at all costs. While the focus is not on the food, there’s a culture built here thanks to the role of being in front of the house and it tackles topics plenty of people who worked through High School and College can relate to.
East Side Sushi (2014)
East Side Sushi is a film all about new opportunities, which is something food can provide. Juana is an immigrant to America, with a Mexican heritage. Looking for a new career path she begins working at a sushi restaurant but is shunned since she does not provide ‘authenticity’ for the customers.
Yet, her talent in the kitchen is undeniable and she goes on to perform admirably in a sushi competition. It’s a movie that proclaims that there shouldn’t be a gatekeeper to any kind of cuisine and that the world of food can open the door to someone’s dreams.
Little Forest (2018)
This gorgeous South Korean film is as pretty as it is moving. It’s all about returning home and the kinds of memories that can be made from food, once again connecting to both heritage and childhood. The movie is focused on a young woman who moves away from the city back to where it all began.
There the audience is shown some of her countless food-based flashbacks as Hye-won begins to get used to this very different lifestyle. While many of these other productions are about the food industry and restaurants, this very much highlights the role that food has in the home.
Mystic Pizza (1998)
Another much smaller film with a star-studded cast, the likes of Vincent D’Onofrio and Julia Roberts portray the small-town folk of Mystic, whose lives intertwine with the ‘A Slice Of Heaven’ pizza parlor. Much like Waiting… it’s all about a group of teenagers who work together at the restaurant.
Although the pizza looks delicious the focus here is the coming-of-age narrative and how a job at a young age like this can be informative of the adults these teenagers may one day become. The notion of a first job is exciting and scary and often dull; for many, it all begins at some kind of food establishment.
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Food plays a very dark and twisted role here. While food comes to define a character, in particular a love for bees and honey, it’s also used to hide a murder! The film is based around a friendship that develops between a housewife and someone from an elderly care home.
They build a firm friendship and a part of that is established through shared food. Yet, as the housewife gets more dissatisfied with her marriage a killing takes place! To hide the body it’s chopped up, cooked, and shared around without anyone knowing any different! It’s a pretty disturbing entry into the food genre.
Big Night (1996)
With the likes of Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci, this fictional 1950s traditional Italian restaurant is the major obsession of these chefs’ lives. But business is poor, with local competition trying to drive them from the area for good. The theme of this film is therefore passion and the drive to see a dream succeed.
The solution to this conflict is a major night of food that should in theory boost the restaurant in its popularity. It’s a major task to undertake but one that’s full of both laughs and emotional turmoil as they put everything into creating the best night possible.
Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2011)
The only documentary film featured here but one of the best in its dedication to portraying the food industry, Jiro Dreams Of Sushi is a perfect biographical project about an 85-year-old who has become a sushi master. The chef has spent his life becoming an absolute expert in his field.
With the backdrop of his famous restaurant in Tokyo, the narrative of the piece is about legacy and the passing on of this franchise to the master’s son. It’s moving and brimming with passion; plus, sushi fans will be completely impressed with the world-renowned food the establishment produces.
Is there a more iconic food film than Pixar’s Ratatouille? Featuring Remy the rat, every single scene is bursting with passion for cooking. It’s a movie that demonstrates talent can come from anywhere and anyone can indeed learn to cook if their heart is in the right place.
It links back to the idea of nostalgia for foods, with the smells, tastes, and textures flinging back one particular food critic to his early childhood. It celebrates the restaurant industry while also demonstrating how tough it is to succeed. Ultimately, according to audiences, there’s no film that better sums up every aspect of the genre itself than this.
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