One of the ways that filmmakers bridge the gap between the world portrayed on screen and their audiences, whose lives don’t have the boring bits taken out, is to anchor extraordinary ideas, characters and events using ordinary things that we can all relate to. We’ve all bought coffee. We’ve all spilled it, made it, enjoyed it and overdone it.
In La La Land, working in a coffee shop is the starting point for a character whose arc takes her to stardom. Coffee is the gateway to action.
Here are ten iconic coffee scenes to whet your appetite.
1. Sudden Impact
We can all be very particular about coffee. I’m not sure that getting too much sugar justifies the execution of stick up boys, though, even when you’re Clint Eastwood.
2. Airplane 2
Although, unexpectedly running out of coffee is the WORST. The absolute WORST.
3. Kicking and Screaming
Then there’s the darker side of coffee… the growing addiction and the marketing that gives us so many choices about our coffees that it becomes a part of our identity. It’s not just about coffee, but the right coffee. Now.
4. Fifty Shades of Grey
People’s coffee rituals tell us a lot about them. We’ve all experienced our own and other people’s coffee quirks. Writers will use these details to hint at the deeper character underneath. We’ve all had coffee with a friend, so the minute Christian Grey peels Anastasia’s muffin (this is not a euphemism …yet), the audience knows that he’s a bit of a control freak. Also, you gotta love a man who encourages the muffins.
5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Audrey Hepburn in ‘that dress’ enjoys her first coffee of the day in one of the most elegant, understated, and iconic moments on screen.
6 & 7. Zoolander and Zoolander 2
The complex relationships that fictional characters have are represented in shorthand rituals of their own. Zoolander 2 comes years after the original movie, and the shared coffee rituals tell the audience that things are the same, but different. Prison can change you.
The familiarity of coffee can also be used to illustrate that someone is a stranger to ‘normal life’ – whether it’s real-world New York or deities in diners.
Will Ferrell is weirdly good at coffee scenes. He’s made this list so many times it seems right to check in with him on the way out. All coffee is great when you need one, but there is also such a thing as a coffee that’s just, exactly right. Nothing beats the pleasure of a good coffee shared with a good friend; it’s liquid perfection.
In the movies, how people drink coffee is often used to show character. In daily life, it’s the superpower drink that gets millions of people to work, keeps them going through the morning, picks them up after lunch, and gets them through dinner.
What does your coffee say about you?