It’s that time of year, The Academy Awards show is upon us and for me that means it’s movie time. For quite a few years now it has been my tradition to try to view all the Best Picture nominees for that year’s awards. Around the same time I started the food blog I started paying attention to the food in those movies. And then a few years after that my interest in that food morphed into eating food from those nominated films the day of the Academy Awards. Yes, I’m crazy.
I was so inspired by the choices this year that I decided to share what I found with you. I have decided to focus on five of this year’s nominees. If you happen to be hosting an Oscar party I hope to also give you some inspiration for your menu.
Let me be upfront. There is copious amounts of alcohol in these movies. This is not a post about beverages, I have decided to focus 100% on the food. Also, if you have not seen these movies and you want to remain spoiler free you should probably stop reading now. But come back when you see the movies.
A Star Is Born
The food in A Star is Born is mostly silent, meals are eaten but they aren’t really the focus. However, early in the movie there is a rambling visit to a grocery store to buy a frozen bag of peas to heal Ally’s bruised hand. After purchasing a bag of Cheetos and medical tape along with those frozen peas, Jackson and Ally bond in the parking lot. While Jackson tapes the peas to Ally’s hand their friendship grows and the true power behind Ally’s star shines its way through to Jackson. And where does the bag of Cheetos come in? Well, something has to entertain Jack’s driver while he and Ally are getting to know each other.
Party food ideas: If you want to get adventurous you could make pea soup shooters for your guests but the easy way out is that bag of Cheetos.
When depicting the early days at the White House, before any meeting, a plate of doughnuts or danishes would flash on the screen. It makes one think how many of those breakfast pastries did Dick Cheney consume before his heart decided to act up? As the years and the movie move along his choice in food is healthier. At a meeting with George W., Cheney has a plate of salad in front of him. That salad remains untouched while Bush is chowing down on BBQ chicken, coleslaw and cornbread. All the while Bush is trying to convince Cheney to be his running mate. You can see the wheels and thoughts turning in Cheney’s head. When the screen freezes on a shot of Bush with a piece of chicken hanging out of his mouth, it’s like everything falls into place and Cheney decides he is going to be the Vice.
Party food ideas: The easy way out here is doughnuts but if you want to jazz it up serve your guests BBQ chicken drummettes.
This movie is a stand out for me. During the two month road trip Dr. Shirley and Tony Lip take together, many themes are explored but everywhere there is food. I don’t know if it was the intent but I think this movie is secretly a love letter to food. Tony’s appetite is ravenous and he has the constitution of garbage disposal. He eats everything in sight, well, except for a pimento cheese sandwich. When he was looking to make some extra cash he challenged someone to a hot dog eating competition and ate 26 all dressed hot dogs for $50. In 1962 that was a lot, about the equivalent of $400 today.
Did I mention this movie has food? Spaghetti, sandwiches, hamburgers, potato chips, pecan log rolls, an epic pizza moment that puts John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever to shame and the very best? A full on Italian Christmas feast complete with a full size cooked fish that would have kept today’s Instagrammers very busy. At one point, over dinner, Dr. Shirley asks Tony how his dinner is and Tony replies, “Salty”. Dr. Shirley then says that Tony should be a food critic. I laughed so hard.
The ultimate scene however is when the road trip enters Kentucky. Tony is so excited he stops to get a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. While Tony drives on he pigs out on chicken, trying to convince Dr. Shirley to get his hands dirty and try a piece. Dr. Shirley reluctantly accepts and primly eats his chicken. The two bond over food, society expectations and life. And then Tony says, “When you eat, eat like it’s your last meal.” Very good advice indeed.
Party food ideas: Take your pick, there are so many choices, any of the above will do.
The food choices in this movie are much like the movie itself, simple but filled with love. Even though Cleo is not a member of her family by blood she quietly serves them with love and it shows in the little things. Cracking a soft boiled egg into a tea cup for breakfast or retrieving cut strawberries for dessert. But I think the most beautiful thing in this movie is how food, no matter how simple, evokes moments that can exist in life forever. When Sra. Sofia finally breaks the news to her children that their father is not coming back they are on vacation, finishing up dinner and ordering ice cream. Such an every day moment, but that’s exactly what this movie is. Every day moments that make life so complex.
Party food ideas: For a healthier option put out some fresh cut strawberries but mini ice cream cones with a choice of flavours would be a whimsical touch here.
In this delightfully odd movie, there is food but like A Star is Born, it really isn’t the focus. Except for an exquisitely decorated cake that Queen Anne eats to excess while her body rejects it. While you might think the title refers to the two women fighting for Queen Anne’s affections I would like to put something else forward to think about. Maybe the title refers to Queen Anne’s life in general. It’s quite obvious she has no joy for the rigours and power associated with public life. She would rather spend time with her favourite things, which are not only the women who vie for her attention but her beloved bunnies and decadent cake.
Party food ideas: If you are an expert baker make a cake but if you are like me, buy an amazing cake from one of your local shops. If you are in Calgary there are some excellent choices, like Sweet Relief Pastries. That’s where I picked up this stunning and delicious Salted Caramel Chocolate cake. Just be sure to share it with your guests or you might end up like Queen Anne.
Personally, I’m still deciding what I want to eat on Sunday, February 24 but I am thrilled to say it will be from the comfort of my own couch while all those stars walk down the red carpet.
And for those inquiring minds, I have seen all the Best Picture nominees. This year I am well ahead of schedule.