Movies that make you hungry

Jon Favreau (L) and Emjay Anthony (R) in Chef. (Courtesy)

Jon Favreau (L) and Emjay Anthony (R) in Chef. (Courtesy)

Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:10 PM ET

LOS ANGELES — Helen Mirren is deliciously right: “There should be a Food Movie Festival ... with food! It would be great. You show the movies and then you eat what’s on the screen!”

We would, of course, want to showcase Mirren’s charming new movie, The Hundred-Foot Journey, and then celebrate with duelling banquet tables laden with fine French cuisine and Indian curry dishes. Here are five other movies that celebrate the culinary arts in all their glory, sometimes as an end in themselves and sometimes as an inspiration for romance, cultural enrichment or the sheer joy of living life to the fullest. These five are my mouth-watering favourites, with 10 honourable mentions, too:

• Babette’s Feast (1987): Danish filmmaker Gabriel Axel’s remarkable drama won Denmark’s first Oscar for best foreign language film. Axel, who died in February at 95, also created a lasting work of art that connects the preparation of a sumptuous and sensual French meal to a profound act of self-sacrifice.

• Tampopo (1985): Japan’s Juzo Itami, who died in 1997 at 64, was famous for his lyrical satires. This one is his masterpiece, a story about the search for the perfect broth for the perfect bowl of noodles in the perfect ramen shop. Staged like a Spaghetti Western with a rogue’s gallery of characters from cooks to gangsters, the film is a marvellous romp that will whet your appetite.

• Ratatouille (2007): Trust the genius Brad Bird and Pixar Animation Studios to let a rat loose in the kitchen and turn the whole enterprise into high art, giddy entertainment and an Oscar winner. Patton Oswalt conjures the hero character, a rat chef who triumphs against all odds, including the machinations of a fussy food critic voiced by Peter O’Toole.

• Eat Drink Man Woman (1994): This is one of Taiwanese-American filmmaker Ang Lee’s early works, a deft bit of cinematic magic in which a widower chef hosts his three unmarried daughters each Sunday. The great food is on the table, but beneath it are simmering emotional complexities as each of the three women follows a unique path.

• Julie & Julia (2009): The peerless Meryl Streep plays Julia Child, one of the most influential American chefs of the 20th century because she popularized French cuisine in the U.S. The movie was Nora Ephron’s final opus before she died in 2012 at 71. It parallels Child’s life and career with the folly of a young blogger (played by Amy Adams) who sets out to cook every recipe in Child’s culinary bible, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

• Honourable Mentions: La Grande Bouffe (1973); Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971); Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005); Big Night (1996); Like Water for Chocolate (1992); Chocolat (2000); Mostly Martha (2001); No Reservations (2007); Chef (2014); and Five Easy Pieces (1970) — this final one just for Jack Nicholson’s diner order when he was denied his piece of toast.

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