Last Updated: August 27th
Some things are elemental to the human experience, none more so than eating. We celebrate food, we fear what’s inside it, and we linger on the emotions it can unleash inside us through smell and flavor. Being central to our existence, it’s no surprise that food’s been a part of movies from the very beginning, on screen and off, to the point where most of us associate the smell of popcorn and the fizz of a soda with hitting the theaters.
To celebrate that connection, we’ve dug out the 10 best food movies on Netflix right now. Whether they’re B-movies to watch with friends, dramas to make you think about how food connects us, or comedies about what we eat fighting back, here are the best food flicks for you to feast on.
Julie & Julia (1992)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 7/10
Even if the only thing you’re skilled at in the kitchen is pushing buttons on the microwave, you know who Julia Child is. The funny, charismatic, often eccentric TV chef made her mark in the culinary world by bringing French cuisine to American homes in the early 60s. This film, which pairs Child’s early cooking career with a struggling blogger’s determination to cook all the recipes from Child’s first book, not only sheds light on how revolutionary the chef was, but how her attitude, towards cooking and life, can still inspire people. Meryl Streep literally transforms into the role of Child and Amy Adams brings a modern, earnest lens through which we view the famous star. Oh, and if you ever failed at cooking scrambled eggs or steaming lobsters, you’ll find this culinary journey very relatable.
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
This potent satire of animal rights, the food system, and corporate farming follows a young girl (Ahn Seo-hyun) as she rescues the titular Okja, a “super pig,” in a movie that threads the needle between thriller, serious political polemic, and the enduring story of “kid and her animal buddy” we all know and love. It’s sometimes an odd mix, and the storybook touches, like Tilda Swinton playing twins, can sometimes fit oddly next to the adventures of a kid and her giant cuddly pig, but it adds up to a superb food movie.
The Trip To Spain (2017)
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
You’d be forgiven for thinking Michael Winterbottom’s movie is a documentary about two “friends” eating and making fun of each other, but in fact, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are playing exceptionally exaggerated versions of themselves, spun off from the movie A Cock And Bull Story. This hilariously dry comedy touches on food, love, friendship, and how stardom doesn’t make you happy.
Maacher Jhol (2017)
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
A distinguished chef (Ritwick Chakraborty) goes home to West Bengal and finds himself faced with what should be child’s play: Make a great bowl of fish curry, one of West Bengal’s signature dishes. That mission turns into an odyssey exploring how food travels and how we make food is a deeply personal thing that’ll connect with anybody who makes a dish to feel like they’re home again.
Melvin Goes To Dinner (2003)
Run Time: 83 min | IMDb: 6.2/10
Directed by none other than Saul Goodman himself, Bob Odenkirk, this exercise in cringe comedy, adapted from Michael Blieden’s stage play, finds the awkward Melvin going out with his best friend and two strangers. It goes hilariously poorly, and while you’re enjoying that, keep an eye out for everyone from a pre-Office Jenna Fischer to Fred Armisen.
Mr. Church (2016)
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Eddie Murphy stars in the dramedy about a home cook who forms a heartwarming bond with the family he works for. Murphy plays Henry Church, a talented chef who’s hired by a young girl and her ailing mother to cook their meals for a short time while the mother battles a serious illness. Church becomes a father figure of sorts, teaching the girl all he knows about cooking and the kitchen, whipping up love and comfort as the family faces terrible tragedy. It’s a lovely look at how food can influence relationships and change lives for the better.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Run Time: 115 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
This trippy Tim Burton creation reimagines the children’s classic into something darker and weirder, but still just as delicious. Johnny Depp sports some fake teeth and an offbeat personality to play Mr. Wonka, a man obsessed with creating candy in all its forms. The plot is relatively the same with children drowning in chocolate rivers and turning into nearly-bursting blueberries, but it’s the way Burton imagines this candy land of horrors that feels unique and nightmarish at the same time. You’ll still want a Wonka Bar when it’s all over though.
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7/10
Ali Wong and Randall Park star in the latest rom-com from Netflix. This time around, the plot follows two childhood sweethearts who’ve spent the last 15 years apart and try to reconnect when one moves back home. Wong plays a successful chef opening a new restaurant in San Francisco while Park plays her former best friend still living at home and working for his dad. Both have some growing up to do, but the film eschews classic romcom tropes for bits that are funnier and more poignant than your average lighthearted fare, and there’s plenty of delicious Asian cuisine to drool over. The best foodie bit though comes when Keanu Reeves pops up to give us a truly out-of-this-world scene set in a high-end restaurant where patrons have sensory experiences with their food.
This Is Not What I Expected (2017)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
This Chinese romantic comedy follows a wealthy CEO and the young chef who mesmerizes him with her culinary talent. Lu Jin is preparing to buy out a failing hotel but first must be persuaded by the chefs at the venue’s restaurant. Only one dish presented to him by a rebellious, mess of a woman named Gu Sheng Nan, impresses Lu Jin, who begins spending time with the flailing cook, sampling her food and inserting himself in her life. The two form a complicated bond, keeping each other company as they jump off into their respective deep ends, and food is the vehicle through which they both confront the disasters their lives have become.
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Bradley Cooper plays Adam Jones, a chef whose toxic combo of drugs and perfectionism destroyed his restaurant, friendships, and a number of careers. After a few years in the culinary wilderness, Jones comes back to make amends, and snag that third Michelin star.
The real selling point here is Cooper, who tackles the darker side of working in a kitchen with aplomb.