The Top 5 Food Moments in Film 2014

For food lover cinephiles, 2014 was an undeniably good year. We got our hands floury with Agatha in The Grand Budapest Hotel and watched the activists in Selma find nourishment with an old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs Southern meal. We also saw mealtime interrupted by an avalanche (literally and figuratively) and become a catalyst for a marital reckoning in Force Majeure.

But five food moments rise above the rest for their contribution to plot, character, and our overall enjoyment of each movie. Below, our favorite food moments in film from 2014.

5. Imelda Staunton butters that bread in Pride

Let's talk about the elephant in the room first. Imelda's character cannot butter bread worth a damn. If you're a perfectionist, you know her type well: imprecise and messy, seemingly uncaring. How can you butter bread that fast?! You can't. The poor souls who will know the joy of margarine in only every other bite...

That said, her technique suits the character and the situation. Cliff (Bill Nighy) is coming out, one of the most painful and freeing moments of his life, but it's something she guessed a long time ago. She knows to accept the news without a fuss, but cultural inertia is such that we see her struggling to hold in her emotions. Only the task at hand can keep her focused, as blurry as her focus may be.

4. Essie Davis eats glass in The Babadook

The Babadook earns its scares not with monsters popping out of nowhere, but with a creeping sense of doom sprouting from within. (Case in point: the scariest pop-up in the film is the stationary book of the title.)

Fitting, then, that Amelia (Essie Davis) finds danger even in a nourishing bowl of soup. But where did the glass come from? From her, from her son, from the Babadook, or from somewhere else entirely?

3. Scarlett Johansson spits up cake in Under the Skin

She held the forkful of cake for a very long time. As if it were waiting to speak to her, to tell her what to do. Finally, she ate a bite of it. She sat looking into the distance. She pulled her lips along the silver tines to catch whatever chocolate remained there, then turned the fork upside down, ran her tongue along it. It was the gesture of someone whose body was in one place, her mind in another.
— 'Dessert' by Colum McCann

I can't separate the cake scene in Under the Skin from Colum McCann's piercing 9/11 essay, published in 2011. Both women are trying to find their way in a foreign world by latching on to something concrete, but for The Female (Scarlett Johansson), the cake proves too much.

2. Tilda Swinton takes a bite of her own medicine in Snowpiercer

No stranger to food porn (see I Am Love), Tilda Swinton goes for the grotesque in Snowpiercer when her character, Mason, must eat the manufactured jello normally reserved for the peasant class.

Yes, the jello's made of cockroaches and god knows what else, but the real horror lies in Swinton's physicality--the prim, pursed lips and the gnashing of her teeth.

1. Lindsay Duncan surrenders to a glass of wine in Le Week-End

"That's the nicest thing I've ever put in my mouth."

We learn that Meg (Lindsay Duncan) values a good meal early on in Le Week-End, when choosing a restaurant for lunch becomes an exercise in caution and restraint. Upon finding the suitable spot ("We have liftoff"), she relaxes into the atmosphere that only a proper bistro can provide.

It doesn't matter that she and her husband are fighting, that their vacation has already veered off course, or that they can't really afford any of it. One swig of wine washes all of that away, freezing time just long enough to lose herself in a swirl of flavor and memories of better days.