Anthony Bourdain’s 10 Favorite Movies of All Time

Cultural icon Anthony Bourdain was a chef who managed to transcend food and touch hearts wherever he went, introducing Western audiences to wonderful cuisines and cultures around the world. Bourdain’s tragic suicide shocked fans across the globe, who gathered on the streets and online to pay their respects. As a tribute to the late chef, a critically acclaimed documentary was commissioned Roadrunner was released, mirroring Anthony Bourdain’s journey.

Throughout his career, Bourdain was known for his bold exploration of unfamiliar cuisines and his willingness to engage with people from all walks of life—a personality trait that extended to his admiration to music, cinema and art. He used food as a lens to explore complex issues such as politics, culture and identity, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of different cultures around the world.

During a detailed interview with NPR, Bourdain explained how he always felt like an outsider looking in. He found himself unable to understand what anyone meant when they referred to “normal people”. To bridge the gap, he decided to study their desires through their eating habits as a psychoanalyst.

Bourdain said: “I’ve never met normal people. They were abstractions, literally shadowy silhouettes in the dining room wherever I was working at the time… to the extent that I knew or understood people’s normal behaviors, it was to anticipate their immediate desires. Would they order the chicken or the salmon? I usually only saw them at their worst—hungry, drunk, excited, in a bad mood, celebrating good fortune or bringing evil to their servers.”

Discussing this gap, he also stated that he learned about other people’s experiences from the cinema: “What they did at home, what it was like to get up late on a Sunday morning, make pancakes for a child, watch movies cartoons. , throw a ball around a yard – these were things I only knew from the movies. The human heart was and remains a mystery to me, but I am learning. I need to.”

Bourdain’s adventurous spirit was evident in his curiosity and desire to explore the far reaches of the globe. Whether he was traversing bustling markets in Southeast Asia or picking up street food in South America, Bourdain’s willingness to embrace the unknown and engage with different cultures endeared him to viewers—and, naturally, this became true with his cinematic favorites.

Just as Bourdain had been appreciative of international cuisines, his taste in cinema also proves that he had been an ardent admirer of the beauty of world cinema. With his eclectic roster, Bourdain admired properties ranging from French New Wave gems to Hong Kong masterpieces.

Bourdain claimed that Wong Kar-wai’s works were among his favorites, claiming that he was the most romantic director in the world. Although Wong has made several masterpieces on the theme of romance, the most notable In the mood for loveBourdain chose his raging 1994 classic Chungking Express.

The late chef justified his choice by claiming that the combination of Wong Kar-wai and Christopher Doyle was magical: “I could look at Wong Kar-wai’s work (and the brilliant cinematographer Christopher Doyle) all day. I don’t have to understand what’s going on… I don’t care. Beautiful people, beautifully photographed. His movies are the best, the most romantic out there.”

See the full list below.

Anthony Bourdain’s Favorite Movies:

  1. Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates – 1973)
  2. Faceless eyes (Georges Franju – 1960)
  3. Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo – 1966)
  4. Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai – 1994)
  5. Kiss me deadly (Robert Aldrich – 1955)
  6. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Nagisa Ōshima – 1983)
  7. Withnail and me (Bruce Robinson – 1987)
  8. Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville – 1969)
  9. The House of Games (David Mamet – 1987)
  10. Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges – 1941)

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