While food continues to dominate mainstream cultural conversation, it has long intersected with the worlds of music (see Katy Perry’s heinous new track “Bon Appetit”), television (hello, Chef’s Table) and art (Dalí’s “Surrealist Banquet” recently debuted in New York). Film is no exception, with the past decade seeing some of Hollywood’s most well-recognized directors, actors, and studios getting involved in films about and involving food, producing wealth of options that includes, admittedly, a few rotten tomatoes, but also some real gems.
Got your popcorn ready? We’ve rounded up six standouts from this year—from a celeb-chef–studded, Bourdain-produced documentary on the global food waste epidemic to a historical drama centered on genocide and hunger, that challenges our understanding of what a “food film” can be—for your viewing pleasure.
Anthony Bourdain’s latest venture into cinema is Jeremiah Tower, a film depicting the meteoric rise and fall of Jeremiah Tower, one of America’s first celebrity chefs. Bourdain uses his connections is the culinary world to bring in stars such as Mario Batali, Martha Stewart, and Ruth Reichl for salivating interviews.
A harrowing tale of love and survival, Bitter Harvest portrays the horrific Ukrainian genocide carried out by Joseph Stalin in the 1930’s. Food, or the lack thereof, is a central theme, as Stalin’s artificial famines starved an entire nation in some of Europe’s darkest days.
The third film adaptation of a Dutch book by the same name, this psychological thriller is set around the table of an unnamed tasting-menu restaurant where two couples—played by Steve Coogan and Laura Linney, and Richard Gere and Rebecca Hall—consume plates of tiny tweezer food all while a looming, unspoken tension grows amongst the four as the dinner progresses.
“In the beginning, there was Beard,” Julia Child once famously said. Released just this April, this PBS documentary is the first to chronicle the life of American food pioneer James Beard, he who made farm-to-table a thing before it was a thing and hosted the country’s first-ever nationally televised cooking show.
A lively portrait of the history behind some of the south’s most delicious cuisine, How the Taste of Louisiana Was Born is more than a movie about Cajun food—it’s a movie about Cajun pride. Farmers and chefs alike come together to showcase and celebrate the best of the Louisiana table, from catfish couvillion to crawfish étouffée.
Another Bourdain project, this Tribeca Film Festival release aims to shock us into dealing with our massive food waste problem: that a third of all food grown around the world is being wasted before it can even hit a plate. Directors Anna Chai and Nari Kye offer insight from chefs who are leading the pack in fighting waste, from Dan Barber to Massimo Bottura, as well as more consumer-oriented solutions to encourage efficiency from the top of the chain down to your grocery bag.