The 15 Best Food Movies to Watch Now
The best food movies leave your tummy growling and your soul smiling. Food and film, when perfectly paired, serve up human stories through one mouth-watering medium.
The ingredients for the best food movies are universal: visual vitals crafted with care by relatable protagonists. Whether it’s the trials of a French chef or the story behind a family recipe, the best food movies center on people, not just pleasing plates.
Below you’ll find the Cozymeal chefs’ top 15 best food movies. Try to watch them without drooling (or digging in) — we dare you!
The 15 Best Food Movies to Watch Now
1. Julie & Julia
Interlacing the lives of two women who never met one another, Julie & Julia traces the joyful journeys of Julia Child and Julie Powell. Played with delicious flair by Meryl Streep, Julia Child learns to cook while living in Paris in the 1940s. Flashing forward, we encounter Julie, an aspiring writer in New York who promises to cook up all 534 of Julia Child’s classic French recipes in one food-filled year.
If there were a shiny trophy for use of food in a foreign film, Pedro Almodovar’s Volver would take the cake — or, more accurately, a tranche of tortilla española paired with pisto manchego. Raimunda, played with toothsome panache by Penelope Cruz, reigns the female-dominated kitchen of her ailing aunt, a matriarchal realm filled with olive-oil-preserved pork and freshly-fired baked goods. Visually-arresting vitals conceal dark deeds in this nom-worthy Spanish noir.
3. Always Be My Maybe
Celebrity chef culture meets sorta-kinda high school love story in this made-for-Netflix rom-com. Childhood besties Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) fill the screen in this San Francisco based ode to revering your roots. Inspired to cook by Marcus’ Korean-born mother, Sasha grows up to become a world-famed chef, returning to SF to open her next big restaurant — only to bump into former best-friend (and one-time paramour) Marcus.
4. Babette’s Feast
No list of best food movies would be complete without the delicious Danish dish known as Babette’s Feast. Regaling viewers with a tempting tableau of French flavors, Babette’s Feast spins the yarn of a 19th-century French refugee (the titular Babette) who decides to repay the two sisters who’ve housed her with an epically edible spread on the 100th anniversary of their father’s birth.
5. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
The unassuming documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi casts a close-up portrait of 85-year-old sushi sensei Sukiyabashi Jiro — the maritime maestro behind a Michelin three-star eatery housed inside a Tokyo subway stop. Ostensibly about one chef’s dedication to his craft, Jiro Dreams of Sushi illuminates the people, passions and patience behind one of the world’s most beloved eateries. Sushi, in other words, is transformed here into food for the soul.
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6. I Am Love (Io Sono L’amore)
Plumbing the power and pain of one wealthy family in Milan, I Am Love examines the competing dreams of an industrial patriarch and wife Emma (Tilda Swinton) — a Russian immigrant who begins an ardent affair with her son’s handsome chef friend, Antonio. This epic familial drama starts to unravel, intriguingly, thanks to one singular dish — a clear Slavic soup called ukha, whose limpid broth both screens and shatters the family’s prim portrait of upper-class perfection.
A single mother (Juliette Binoche) and her young daughter (Victoire Thivisol) uproot their lives and move to the French countryside to open a chocolate shop (open scandalously on Sundays!). Through their genuine sweetness and cocoa-tinged confectionaries, this mother-daughter duo tempts the townspeople into welcoming — not snubbing — these new arrivals.
8. Like Water for Chocolate (Como Agua Para Chocolate)
Magical realism and maudlin meals align in the Mexican food-filled film Like Water for Chocolate. Set in the early 1900s, the movie questions the strictures of family rituals while, subtly and simultaneously, deploying those same traditions to voice the protagonist’s emotional turmoil. The food here communicates emotion — from sadness to attraction, and from solitude to enamorment.
9. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
Retired Taiwanese Chef Chu lives with his three adult daughters. Family bonding in this Tapei home focuses on the preparation and eating of a sumptuous Sunday supper, where the feast serves as the backdrop for simmering (and often suppressed) feelings in the family. Their dinner table, viewers soon realize, is no ordinary object — it’s the stage where both offspring and the assumed patriarch might come together around food to articulate their still-evolving recipes for a shared sense of connection.
Food and flashbacks fuse into one fuzzy flick in Disney’s Ratatouille, in which a Parisian rat named Remy longs to become a grand French chef. Residing in the sewers underneath one of the city’s most renowned restaurants, Remy commits himself to the culinary craft — a world that, initially, refuses to recognize him within the kitchen’s confines.
11. Big Night
1950s New Jersey is the setting for this affecting culinary comedy. Brothers Primo and Secondo — whose names mean “first” and “second” course in Italian — are struggling to satisfy local tastes with their old-country Italian fare. To save their family business, the brothers decide to go whole hog on one “big night” in an epic feast that will determine the fate or failure of the brothers’ American dream.
12. The Lunchbox
In an effort to spice up her marriage, Indian housewife Ila tries to rouse her (inattentive) husband’s affections through a specially-prepared lunchbox. Unpredictably, her lunch gets delivered to the wrong guy — begetting a handwritten back and forth between Ila and Saajan that quickly evolves into an unexpectedly intimate friendship.
13. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Gawdy gobs of colorful (and kind of creepy) candy — it’s the visual buffet in store for viewers of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Starring the inimitable Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka plunges audiences into “a world of pure imagination,” where chocolate rivers flow and giant gummy bears grow from frosting-coated forests. The compelling core of the film resides, however, in the conflict between one child’s fantasy of a place and its less-than-appetizing reality.
14. Bread and Tulips (Pane e Tulipani)
During a family trip, Rosalba is accidentally left behind at a rest stop by her husband and sons. Unpursued by her family, Rosalba decides to head to Venice — where she soon meets a restaurant maître d’ who treats her with unfamiliar charm. Rosalba’s individuality blooms as she strays from the Italian society’s rigid rules of maternity, falling for the waiter and her growing new family of eccentrics.
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Considered the first “ramen Western” flick, the Japanese comedy Tampopo is a joyful contemplation on food and family. This savory story centers around the truck driver Goro, who teaches a widowed noodle shop owner, Tampopo, to become a master of utterly slurp-worthy ramen. Noodles, it turns out, taste better when seasoned with a healthy dash of laughter.
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With these chef-chosen best food movies, the most difficult decision is which to watch first. Round up your family and friends and some gourmet snacks for a foodie-approved movie night.