This Sunday is one of my favorite nights of the year. Yes, I know that the Academy Awards and its ilk are self-congratulatory and rarely identify the "best" films, but I don't care. I love movies. And I love beer. And if we pair food with beer, why not movies?
Enjoy your Oscar Night, with this as your guide. Pick these up, have some friends over, and enjoy the show!
A Beer for Every Best Picture Nominee
Let's face it, you didn't watch most of these movies. They're mostly sad, long, depressing stories with an absurdly high percentage featuring dead fathers or other relatives. But you know who DID watch all of these? Me. [...and my long-suffering spouse, who has little choice but to accompany me]
So, without further ado, a beer pairing for each of the nine Best Picture nominees (in ascending order by movie quality - not necessarily beer quality):
9. Lion: The sad story of an Indian boy who falls asleep on a train and wakes up thousands of miles away from home, gets adopted and taken even FURTHER away, and then uses Google Earth to identify his home village based on landmarks as seen from space. WHY DIDN'T HE JUST USE GOOGLE GOOGLE INSTEAD??? HE KNEW THE NAME OF HIS VILLAGE! In any case, it's a predictable slog of a movie (apparently based on a true story, so I might one day hunt this guy down and ask why he wasted months looking at satellite pictures instead of typing into Google the name of his village and the name of the station where he got on the train), and it deserves a beer that's likewise generic, and not that interesting, and Indian, I guess. PAIRING SUGGESTION: Lion Beer (some of these just write themselves, folks)
8. Manchester by the Sea: A lot of critics loved this movie. I didn't get it. Much like Lion, we have a cavalcade of cliches, not much originality, and a lot of grief - but at least it's long as hell. Having said that, it does feature some gorgeous scenery and a competent performance from Casey Affleck (though a bizarrely horrible one from Michelle Williams, whom I usually love). So we need a beer that's highly predictable and too much of it. PAIRING SUGGESTION: Sam Adams Boston Lager - and make everyone drink a 22oz. mug of it even if they just want one 12oz. bottle.
7. Hell or High Water: This basically felt like the best TV movie you'll ever see. A semi-interesting crime story about two brothers robbing banks to avoid foreclosure on a family ranch in Texas that's suddenly worth a fortune because of an oil discovery (and btw, they soft-pedal this plot point so hard in the movie that it isn't until the end that you realize it isn't just a joke made up by one of the brothers). Competent, but not anything to write home about - and Jeff Bridges chewing so much scenery he probably could use a beer to wash it down. PAIRING SUGGESTION: I know a lot of you are expecting Hell or High Watermelon from 21A, but that's actually a bit too original here. Instead, since we're getting a movie that's really good for what it is but might not really be in the top tier, out of Texas, I'm gonna go with basically anything from Jester King. It's great, but not clear if it isn't just a big fish in a little pond...
6. Hacksaw Ridge: An incredible true story of a pacifist who saved 75 Marines during a battle on Okinawa in WWII, this is a war movie that indulges in lots of cliches but gets by on the strength of its source material and a sterling performance from Andrew Garfield. Directed by Mel Gibson, we need a beer that pairs with a movie that's kinda conventional but gets by on its charm, made by a recently-disgraced figure looking to get back into your good graces. PAIRING SUGGESTION: I'm thinking one of our Big Beer Buyout people - Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager fits the bill (and Devil's Backbone sounds like a place that's just down the road from Hacksaw Ridge).
5. Hidden Figures: Charming and super-competent film about African American ladies being recognized for their contributions to the early successes of NASA. Good fun, an important story, and well-made - it stops short of being great, though, and left me wanting to go home and watch The Right Stuff again (which lacks the diversity but delivers as an epic of the new Space Age). PAIRING SUGGESTION: If you can get it, anything from Ninkasi's "Ground Control" series of space-traveled-yeast-fermented beers. If you can't, Victory Moonglow Weizenbock seems like a good alternative...
4. Moonlight: A touching story about a boy from a rough neighborhood in Miami who has to navigate a complicated childhood and a drug-addicted mother, told in three chapters at ages 9, 16, and 25 (give or take). There's some great advice in this movie, particularly from Mahershala Ali's character: "Sooner or later, you just gotta decide what you're gonna be." PAIRING SUGGESTION: Cigar City Jai Alai IPA.
3. Arrival: Aliens arrive to preach a message of unity and cooperation. Collaboration for greatness - simple, beautiful, and impactful. PAIRING SUGGESTION: Russian River & Firestone Walker STiVO Keller Pils.
2. Fences: The movie adaptation of an award-winning Broadway play set in post-war Pittsburgh, this is a real showcase for the power of dialogue and ensemble performances. The movie's complex family dynamics and statements on the nature of strength make it a great pairing with a complex beer. PAIRING SUGGESTION: Great Divide Barrel Aged Hercules DIPA.
1. La La Land: An outstanding modern fairy tale, love story, and musical about the need to care for the things you love even if you're the only one that believes in them. PAIRING SUGGESTION: Your favorite beer, whatever it is, and even if other people think it's terrible or a waste of time.
Some quick hits for other noteworthy or nominated films, for the real film geeks out there:
- Jackie: Sawtooth Amber from Left Hand ("Back, and to the left...back, and to the left..." Too soon?)
- Kubo and the Two Strings: Hitachino Nest White Ale (because for some reason a story set in feudal Japan features a ton of white voice actors...)
- Deadpool: Anything from Unibroue in honor of Canadian Wade Wilson
- Sully: 21A beer in cans, obviously
Call in sick for work on Monday, really make a night of it, and stay up right to the bitter, played-off-the-stage end.
Keep it simple.