Vote For Best Dining Scene In Aspire’s Best-Dressed Rooms In TV And Film Awards

When you look at what our judges felt were the Best Dining Scenes, it often seems as though people were just aching to be around a table with others to converse. Though the assignment was definitely decor, it was the feeling that a scene provided that often garnered their attention and vote.

Here are the nominations:


Photo courtesy of Netflix.

The Crown

Who can forget the contrast between the formal silverware-laden dinners at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth, played by Olivia Coleman, and the modest table setting of Prime Minister Thatcher played so delectably by Gillian Anderson.

“Tables are often used by set decorators to explain both status and relationships,” explains set decorator Beth Kushnick. “A rectangular table is more formal while a round table sets the tone of a close family connection. Details such as the food that is eaten and the type of table settings also are visual cues to help the plot and establish characters.”


Photo courtesy of Netflix.

As for dining experiences, Ashley Manfred found the lunch date between Diana and Camilla at a restaurant called, wait for it, “Menage a Trois” a great dramatic moment. “The scene is utterly excruciating as we see how much more Camilla seems to know about Prince Charles,” she says.


Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Judges also pointed out the Queen’s relationship with her sister was different than the rest of the family and conveyed through dining. Margaret, played by Helen Bonham Carter, could sit cozily next to the Queen while dining while other family members were spaced apart. This was a visual cue of their close relationship.


 


Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Mank

Those glamorous tables at Hearst castle and the parties where Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearts hold court as writer Herman J. Mankiewicz taunts guests about writing his tell all of “Citizen Kane” reflect a grandeur of a bygone era that attracted several judges.

“The dinner scenes were a very long shoot and very complicated with a mass of characters all engaged in one set, one scene,” observes set decorator and judge, Melinda Ritz. “Recreating a dinner scene that has never been documented before in our understanding was very well done. Imagine going on tour at Hearst Castle, looking into the dining room from the one and only vantage point the public is allowed to see and imagine dinner parties there. Production design has to “imagine” all four walls and the players at play.”


 


Photo courtesy of Ollie Upton/Hulu.

The Great

Every meal in this Hulu series takes place in a banquet hall. Need we say more? The long tables that seemingly fit hundreds were filled with great goblets and gigantic plates of food. In more intimate settings, viewers could also appreciate the gold-rimmed glassware and intricate gilt plates that added to the opulence of everyday life. Plus, the lines of candelabras lit each table so beautifully.


 


Photo courtesy of Liam Daniel/Netflix.

Bridgerton

Having lunch with the queen and seeing an abundance of beautiful delicate floral plates and tea sets was a joy to watch. All the details were visual delights including the floral costumes, the Queen’s demeanor and the breathtaking garden.

However, the dining scene that is most memorable is when the Duke of Hastings has dinner at the Bridgertons’ home. “All of you at the same table, even the children,” marvels the Duke. To which, Violet Bridgerton replies, “It may be unfashionable but we like each other.”

This scene, said judges, helped cement the contrast to the Duke’s upbringing and the closeness of the Bridgerton family.


 

(Content Warning: This video depicts blood starting at 1:45)

The Invisible Man

“What would happen if someone invisible showed up for dinner in a restaurant,” ponders film critic Bill McCuddy. “Murder is on the menu and Elizabeth Moss is being served up in a near-perfect frame.”

The restaurant scene above in this Elisabeth Moss-led thriller isn’t particularly noteworthy as far as decor. Silver water pitcher, white tablecloths, and modern embellishments including square votives line the table, while orange lights add warmth in the background. The set decorator Katie Sharrock did a great job in making it look like a nice restaurant that anyone could relate to but not identify. But there’s definitely drama, which makes it memorable.

The Invisible Man has a couple of standout scenes set in dining rooms,” says film critic Jeff Sneider. “My jaw dropped during one shocking moment in a restaurant where someone close to Elisabeth Moss’ heroine is killed, but the finale in the villain’s gorgeous lair is just as effective.”


 


Photo courtesy of Peter Kramer/HBO.

Succession

Set decorator George De Titta’s favorite dining scene, was when Succession characters ate in the home of a potential corporate buyer. It was actually a home built by J.P. Morgan’s grandson in Glen Cove, New York. When the team was scouting locations and decided on this one, De Titta’s realized he had worked there over 20 years ago when shooting the film Sabrina with Harrison Ford.

“Not much had changed since 1995,” he said. In fact, he had given the custom-made furniture from that film to the owners and they had kept it all these years. Which became a blessing when he decided to use it for the Succession shoot.


Photo courtesy of Peter Kramer/HBO.

In a hunting lodge scene, a deer head hangs on the wall to make the dark paneled walls more interesting. “It was a combination of using items from an actual taxidermist,” De Titta said. “But we also made the collection of small antlers in our scenic department.”


Photo courtesy of Peter Kramer/HBO.

Judges liked the fact that Logan Roy is always seated at the head of the table. In fact, set decorator George DeTitta wisely created beige wing chairs for him to sit at the rectangular table while the other chairs were smaller.

This set the tone for who’s in charge, as the siblings plot and scheme to get his attention to be the heirs to his media empire. “Logan clearly always holds the head spot,” says De Titta. “It’s just an ode to his presence even when that room is seen empty.”

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