I recreated the egg-centric scenes in four of the best picture contenders
Has anyone else noticed this? There are a ton of eggs in this year’s Oscar nominations for Best Picture. And I’m not just talking background eggs. We had some prominently featured, plot-boosting eggs last year. Eggs used to poison your spouse! Eggs used to forge a multi-species relationship! An egg for every occasion. To celebrate eggs’ roles in last year’s best movies, I prepared some of the dishes from the films. Join me on this journey of egg-in-film appreciation.
‘Call Me By Your Name’
This best picture nominee takes place in a villa in Northern Italy, so I woke up early to try and recreate some of the foggy country ambiance, a scarcity in the dry noisy heat of Los Angeles, where I live. In the film, Armie Hammer’s character Oliver has just woken up from a long jet-lagged sleep. Famished, he clumsily breaks open a soft-boiled egg and digs in with the vigor only a 6-foot-5 American Man can display.
I’d somehow never eaten a soft-boiled egg, but I appreciated the concept of a runny yolk and if I’m being honest, Armie has done a really good job of making it look irresistible. I served it in a fashion as close to the film as possible: in a Le Creuset egg holder that I bought on Amazon, alongside French pressed coffee and some apricot juice we’ll pretend I fresh-squeezed from my sprawling vineyard.
With each sloppy bite of egg, I closed my eyes and imagined I was floating in a pond of fresh run-off water from the mountains, or lazily basking in the Tuscan sun, acquiring a golden glow that would make me look muscular and capable. If I’m going to bike 15 miles to the town square this morning, I’ll need my strength. And this delightful soft-boiled egg did the trick. I’m a convert.
Lady Bird is a young woman who knows what she wants and knows what she likes. As a 30-year-old woman, I find myself retroactively jealous of her gumption, particularly when it comes to her opinion on scrambled eggs for breakfast.
In one scene in Greta Gerwig’s film on a hectic morning in the McPherson home, Lady Bird, played by Saiorse Ronan, is upset her eggs are undercooked, claiming there’s “white stuff” still in them. “Make your own fucking eggs,” Lady Bird’s mom says to her before storming out of the kitchen.
Sadly, I live 3,000 miles from my mom, so to recreate this mood, I had Alanis Morrisette blasting through my apartment and I shouted out random cuss words every couple minutes. Thankfully, I did not get the cops called on me while overcooking this scramble to avoid the white stuff, and I was soon digging in. Suddenly, I could feel my teenage angst rising up in me. That malaise was a relic of my personality I left behind as soon as my college acceptance letters rolled in, but with each bite, I found myself more and more mad at… well, everything. My parents, Nick from art class, my school uniform, why I even need to learn Algebra anyway I’m never going to actually use it out in the world. I wanted to shut myself in my bedroom and listen to Rilo Kiley really really loud. Wow. I’ve missed that feeling. I thanked the eggs for reminding me where I came from and continued my day, writing my crush’s name in my work notepad and pounding a Mountain Dew for lunch.
‘The Shape of Water’
In this film, a hard-boiled egg is an olive branch extended from human to fishman. When Sally Yates’ character Eliza discovers the lab she works in is keeping a strange amphibious creature hostage, she brings him the gift of eggs and teaches him how to say “egg” in sign language. It’s his first word. A beautiful moment.
What was not beautiful was the fact that I had to actually eat a hard-boiled egg. The springiness of the white, the chalky texture of the yolk—it has always grossed me out. Let’s not even get into what kind of salads they’re put in. What’s important is that I put all this aside and tried this atrocity for you, dear reader.
I cracked the egg along the edge of my kitchen table and peeled away the shell. I approached my first bite with trepidation with my eyes slammed shut and considered the type of love I’d have to feel for another person to cook these things for them every morning. It’s one I’ve certainly never felt before. I can now publicly state that I would never make a man of any species eat one of these with me.
The egg has a devious role in this film. It’s an accomplice to the wild mushrooms our protagonist is poisoned with, in an omelet prepared with the utmost care. An ideal marriage it is not, but no one can say Alma, played by Vicki Krieps, doesn’t cook with pride for her guy Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis).
I bought expensive mushrooms from the Whole Foods, and while they weren’t poisonous, the hit to my checking account was just as damaging to my immune system. I made the omelet quietly and with purpose, as Alma does. The butter sizzled on the pan and I imagined I was about to serve this dish up to someone who has pissed me off in the past but is still so inexplicably attractive to me. I can tell you now that I used Shia Labeouf. Don't judge—we've all got our thing.
I shared the omelet with my imaginary husband Shia and could all but hear him uttering “Kiss me, my girl, before I am sick” as we finished the dish. Maybe one day I’ll have the honor of participating in a Munchausen by Proxy romance, but until then, I’m good, cause I just had a really delicious omelet.