best picture nominees best food scenes

In advance of Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, we’re taking a look back at the best food scenes in Oscar-winning movies over the past 60 years, and pairing them with recipes to match.

With all the awards that the Academy is keen to hand out these days, you’d think by now they’d have had the wherewithal to acknowledge the best food scenes in movies with some sort of acting acclaim of their own, or at least as a subcategory of set design.

Related Reading: A 2020 Oscar Menu Inspired by the Nominees | 9 Award-Worthy Oscar Drinks for Every 2020 Best Picture Nominee

A simple dinner table can act as a building source of marital tension (“American Beauty”), or sexual tension (“Tom Jones”). The act of meal preparation can humanize a villain, or demonize a hero. A single food item can add comedy, as in “Annie Hall’s” lobsters, or tragedy, as in the foreshadowing oranges of the “Godfather” series. I mean, Bubba even showed us in “Forrest Gump” that shrimp was worthy of an entire monologue!

In honor of “Food, Glorious Food”—as rightfully expressed in 1969’s Best Picture Winner, “Oliver!”—we’ve rounded up a collection of the best food scenes in Best Picture films from the last 60 years, with recipes to pair them accordingly.

1961: “The Apartment”

In this scene we learn the value of singing while cooking, and also of being resourceful. No colander? No problem. That being said, do resist the urge to rinse your pasta when you serve up our classic Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe.

1964: “Tom Jones”

It’s a robust yet simple feast enjoyed by the characters, with a variety of surf and turf and fruits served rather plainly. But something about the way they both enjoy the dinner tells me that the more complex techniques are being saved for dessert. Try our Turkey Two Ways for some legs and breasts you can really sink your teeth into.

1965: “My Fair Lady”

Never has a tea party, usually a setting of refinement and manners, seemed so cruel. Fortunately you, unlike Eliza, don’t need to rely on your mastery of pronunciation for someone to offer you the last strawberry tart. Cook up a batch of our Fruit and Buttermilk Tartlets for your tea and you need not share with anyone else at all!

1973: “The Godfather”

It’s a brutal metaphor for the callousness of murder in the mob, but yeah, definitely take the cannoli. Try this 5-Ingredient Cannoli recipe from Baker by Nature when you need to minimize time in the kitchen because a Godfather marathon is on.

1977: “Rocky”

I mean, there’s no denying that this breakfast of champions contributed to the desired outcome, but if you prefer your eggs just slightly above raw, try our Goat Cheese and Fresh Herb Omelet recipe, which should still give you the ability to make your day a knockout!

1978: “Annie Hall”

Important note: try not to use live crustaceans as exposition of the everyday aspects of your modern romance. Just get them in the pot already. Try our Basic Steamed Lobster recipe.

1980: “Kramer vs. Kramer”

I’ll be honest, though the process here is a little haphazard, I can’t argue that the french toast seems like it just might come out all right, up to the point that it started burning and was dropped to the floor. Try our Basic French Toast recipe, but maybe hold the frazzled attempt at parenting.

1985: “Amadeus”

A bribe to end all bribes. What better move to wriggle information out of the wife of your nemesis than with a darling bonbon with the most seductive of names? Want to try Capezzoli di Venere for yourself? Does your nemesis have a wife with a sweet tooth and loose lips? Get the Nipples of Venus recipe from Project Pastry Love.

1992: “The Silence of the Lambs”

Without ever having to see them, in a cinematic instant fava beans are catapulted from an innocuous legume to a hair-raising thing of horror. In need of a little PR perhaps, here poor favas get a friendlier treatment, care of a poached egg. (Fixes everything, I swear it.) Try our Warm Fava Bean and Chanterelle Salad with Poached Eggs recipe. And yeah, I’d still probably want a nice Chianti.

1995: “Forrest Gump”

In my memory this scene goes on for much longer than it actually does, but in all Bubba only mentions 21 preparations of shrimp. And he missed one! Try our Easy Shrimp Scampi recipe.

1998: “Titanic”

Here’s the thing: even if you are trying to stick it to the upper-class by demonstrating you are your own person, just don’t turn down an opportunity for caviar, okay? Like, ever. That’s some advice to never let go of, Jack. Feeling like the king of the world? Try our Cornmeal Blini with Caviar recipe.

2000: “American Beauty”

Seriously, I think that this scene could have potentially ended in marital harmony if someone would just have passed him the asparagus on the first ask. But then where would the plot have gone? See what I mean? Asparagus for Best Supporting Actor! Fortunately asparagus season is almost upon us and you need not wait for it to be passed. Get our Crispy Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus recipe.

2004: “The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King”

Here raw tomatoes are pierced and bread ripped apart with an animal ferocity, interspersed with scenes of war. The real warfare, though, is that it greedily happens in front of a poor creature who is accustomed to eating four times before noon. (First breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon.) Speaking of elevenses…I could fancy a snack right about now. Get our Tomato Bruschetta recipe.

2009: “Slumdog Millionaire”

What lengths would you go to for a bit of fresh naan? IMO it’s totally worth hanging over the edge of a moving train for, but, maybe don’t. Not when it’s really simple to make yourself. Get our Easy Naan Bread recipe.

2017: “Moonlight”

Sometimes all you really need to feel loved is for a friend to make you dinner. And sometimes all you need to show your sensitive side is the ability to cook up some Cuban food. In need of giving or receiving love? Try our Cuban Rotisserie Pork Loin with Peppers and Onions recipe.

2019: Green Book

Warning! This video may be unsuitable for those who are very hungry and unable to quickly score some fried chicken. Maybe don’t try this in an Uber, but do try making some at home with our Easy Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe.

Related Video: How to Make a Red Carpet Royale Champagne Cocktail with Gold Leaf

Header image courtesy of MGM.

Pamela Vachon is a freelance writer based in Astoria, NY whose work has also appeared on CNET, Cheese Professor, Alcohol Professor, and Diced. She is also a certified sommelier, voiceover artist, and an avid lover of all things pickled or fermented.
See more articles