With The menu Premiering in September and captivating viewers around the world, it’s clear that the thirst for restaurant movies hasn’t been quenched. Aside from giving audiences a view into a world of which they only see one side, a good restaurant movie can affect audiences in many ways.
It may have viewers on the edge of their seats, grimacing at the protagonist’s desperate struggle to succeed, or, conversely, it may have an audience starving beyond their wildest dreams. Whatever the effect, these films, according to IMDb scores, are truly delicious slices of cinema.
With Helen Mirren, The Hundred Foot Journey tells the story of the Kadams, an Indian family who left their country of origin for France, where they opened a restaurant opposite Madame Mallory’s starred establishment.
A delightful story of a family’s battle against insurmountable odds, The Hundred Foot Journey is a lighthearted affair that will make the stomach rumble. Helen Mirren puts on an excellent performance as Madame Mallory, and her rivalry with the Kadam family makes for very entertaining viewing. It is also a story of tolerance and acceptance, with the Indian family clashing with French ideals.
9 Big Night (1996) – 7.3
Co-directed by Stanley Tucci, big night is a delightful story about the meaning of food in our lives. The plot follows two Italian-American brothers who together run a restaurant, which cannot compete with their rivals. In a last ditch attempt to save their restaurant, they plan an evening of amazing food.
Known for his Timpano recipe, recreated by YouTuber Binging With Babish, big night is a well-acted and beautifully written picture. Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub have a wonderful relationship, and every moment they share on screen is a huge pleasure. Plus, the supporting players are just as entertaining. big night is a widely under-seen film that deserves a wider audience.
8 Cook (2014) – 7.3
An obvious passion project from writer-director Jon Favreau, best known as the mastermind of the MCU, Chief tells the story of a chef who buys a food truck after quitting his job, hoping to regain his creative freedom and pursue his dreams.
Although not the usual big action that audiences have come to expect from Favreau, Chief has what many of these films lack, namely a distinct personality. It’s a well-paced film, very funny, but not afraid of more dramatic rhythms. It’s a film about food and how we as people connect through the food we eat. For those who want something different from Favreau.
seven Dinner at Eight (1933) – 7.5
Dinner at eight is an adaptation of the acclaimed play, which follows the wealthy Millicent and Oliver as they throw an extravagant dinner party for a collection of well-to-do people, all of whom harbor many secrets.
Directed by the masterful George Cukor, Dinner at eight is a glorious display of actors at their most theatrical. It’s 110 minutes of salacious scandal and head-butting, with enough power to keep the lights on. For those who appreciate old movies or those studying the craft of filmmaking, this is sure to satisfy.
6 The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) – 7.5
Directed by Peter Greenaway, who could certainly be described as an “acquired taste”, The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover is a Jacobean tragedy of the finest order. The story takes place over a period of seven days and follows its titular characters as they interact and degrade.
Talking too much about the plot would spoil the surprises this picture has to offer, but it deserves the most lavish praise. It’s a visually arresting film (costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier) and the acting, especially from Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon, is simply extraordinary. As if that weren’t enough, the script is terrific and the film absolutely nails its final scene.
5 Boiling point (2022) – 7.5
An acclaimed drama known for being shot in one take of 90 minutes, Boiling point holds a place among the most stressful movies of 2022. The story follows a day in the life of a chef and the difficulties of managing his staff on the busiest day of the year.
Led by a raw, unfiltered performance by Stephen Graham, one of Britain’s finest actors, Boiling point is a perfect drama in an enclosure. He is absolutely relentless in his pacing, rarely allowing the audience to breathe; viewers will no doubt want to rest after the film is over. It’s a true cinematic feat and you have to see it to believe it.
4 My Dinner with André (1981) – 7.7
Directed by a legend of the French New Wave, Louis Malle, My dinner with André is a fascinating portrait of two men and their different perspectives. The plot, if you can call it that, is a long conversation between two men (Wally and André), one tells stories, and the other notices their differences.
For lack of plot in the true sense of the term, My dinner with André might seem like a boring watch for those more accustomed to plot-driven narrative imagery. On the contrary, this film is gripping. It’s a joy to listen to these two people, both played so naturally, and hear how they differ. It’s not flashy, nor particularly loud. It’s simple and wonderfully effective.
3 The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) – 7.8
From the mind of Luis Bunuel, the master of surrealist cinema, The Discreet Charm Of Bourgeoisie follows a group of friends who keep trying to have dinner together, but are constantly interrupted by a series of increasingly absurd events.
Known even by those who have not seen it, The Discreet Charm Of Bourgeoisie is a dark and comic satire of the upper class and its customs. It’s also absolutely weird. Bunuel’s movement from the real to the absurd is so fluid that it’s hard not to sit in awe of the chaos unfolding onscreen. Fans of this film should be sure to check out his other works as well.
2 Tampopo (1985) – 7.9
A Japanese movie about ramen noodles, Tampopo tells the story of a truck driver who comes across a small noodle shop and decides to help their business. The film also includes a series of vignettes on the similarities between love and food.
A light and playful film about the magic of food, Tampopo is sure to have audiences craving a bowl of ramen. It’s also about love and how homemade food can spread joy in the world, and that’s a beautiful message.
1 Ratatouille (2007) – 8.1
One of Pixar’s best movies, Ratatouille is a life-affirming film. It follows Remy, a rat with culinary ambitions, as he finds himself in Paris. With the help of a clumsy young chef, he secretly works in an upscale kitchen.
A fun film about how dreams always come true, Ratatouille has more to offer than just superficial entertainment. It’s about unity, love, prejudice and so much more. Any scene involving the kitchen is an absolute treat, with the expressive animation and the plentiful food, which looks just good enough to eat.
Next: 10 small details in Ratatouille that only foodies will notice