On Monday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) released its nominations for this year's Academy Awards. The ten Best Picture nominees range from an animated film about toys trying to get home, to the tale of a young girl's quest to hunt down her father's killer in the Wild West. Whether it's a backdrop or a central plot point, there's a common thread linking all ten of these movies: food. Here are some of the most significant food scenes and references in 2011's nominations.
• In the film's first scene, a starved Dom Cobb ('cobb!' as in corn... played by DiCaprio) digs into a plate of food in front of an aged Saito (Ken Watanabe).
• Cobb explains the dream world to Ariadne (Ellen Page) at a café, and explodes a nearby fruit stand to prove that's where they are.
• When things start going awry in Robert Fischer, Jr.'s dreams (Cillian Murphy), Cobb trys a new plan, at a hotel bar.
• To celebrate the news that Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) has landed the main role in Swan Lake, her mother (Barbara Hershey) buys a cake. After initially begging off, Nina eventually has some.
• When Nina and Lily (Mila Kunis) go out for a night on the town, Lily eats a cheeseburger, and both dancers drink heavily.
• The first scenes focus on Aron Ralston (James Franco) preparing for a canyon adventure. You see a grapefruit, a chicken burrito, and a bottle of water.
• Aron drinks a bottle of Gatorade while driving to the canyon. Later when he's trapped, he dreams about a bottle of it left in the car.
• During his bleak 127 hours, Aron does a crafty job of making his minimal water supply last as long as possible.
The Kids Are All Right
• Paul (Mark Ruffalo) owns an organic vegetable farm, which he uses to supply his trendy L.A. restaurant.
• While at dinner with friends, Nic (Annette Benning) says, “If I hear one more person say how much they love heirloom tomatoes, I’m going to punch them right in the face.”
• Joni (Mia Wasikowska) bonds with her sperm donor "father," Paul, while helping him to harvest vegetables from his garden.
• The climax of the film plays out when Paul invites the family over for dinner at his house.
• Jules (Julianne Moore) points out Nic's affinity for red wine several times, often negatively.
• There are at least two characters in True Grit with food names: Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) and "Lucky" Ned Pepper (played by... Barry Pepper!).
• After Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) saves LaBoeuf, he drinks enough whiskey to be hungover the next day. Rooster's alcoholism is alluded to throughout the movie.
• When the next-door neighbors are skinning a deer and her younger brother asks her if she thinks they might give them some, Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) tells him to never ask for what should be given. The neighbors later bring meat over without having been asked. Ree tells her siblings to watch and learn how to make deer stew.
• As primary caretaker for her two younger siblings, Ree teaches them how to hunt, clean, and cook squirrels.
• Ree is rebuffed by the wife of the clan patriarch when she goes looking for her father, but is given a cup of something warm to drink.
The Social Network
• The film opens at a bar where Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), have a heated argument over beers. The scene ends with Erica breaking up with Mark.
• Reeling from the break-up, Mark creates "FaceMash" while drinking a beer and eating tuna from the can.
• As part of the punch process to join The Phoenix, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) chugs whiskey from a bottle.
• When the Winkelvoss twins approach Mark about doing programming for Harvard Connection, they offer him a sandwich in the bike room of their Final Club.
• Mark and Eduardo meet Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) for the first time over an evening of dinner and drinks in New York City. Later, Sean and Mark do shots in an L.A. club.
• During lunch, Marily Delpy (Rashida Jones) offers some of her salad to Mark, but he refuses. In the film's final scene he asks her out to dinner and she declines.
The King's Speech
• The royal family sits down to dinner and King George V (Michael Gambon) passes away.
• Upset over his father's death, Prince Albert (Colin Firth) asks Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to pour him something "stronger" than tea. They bond over drinks.
• Albert admits to Lionel that when he was a child, his nanny would starve him, which Lionel concludes must have been a contributing factor to his stammer.
• When Myrtle Logue (Jennifer Ehle) meets Albert (now King George VI) and Queen Elizabeth in her home, she invites the couple to stay for dinner. The Queen replies that they have to decline due to a "previous engagement."
• Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) meets his girlfriend, Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), at the bar where she works.
• When Micky's half-brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) is released from prison, their mother (Melissa Leo) brings a cake to Micky's gym to celebrate. Dicky brings the cake to the house where he used to do drugs and gives his "friends" the cake.
Toy Story 3
• As part of the toys' plan to escape from Sunnyside Daycare, Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) removes his facial features and puts them into a tortilla so he can slip under a closed door.
The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.