The Oscars are right around the corner and now that there has been some time to digest the nominations, we can accurately assess them. And by assess them, I mean match them to corresponding wine bottles that reflect each movie’s character. We are sticking with the list of Best Picture nominees and looking to find a bottle of wine that best exemplifies the essence of those movies. In the last two and half weeks, I have managed to binge all of the nominated movies, giving me a slight cine-phile hangover. Nevertheless, we forge ahead. Every bottle on this list has been hand selected to truly enhance your cinematic viewing pleasure should you drink it while watching any of the films.
Nothing like a film about a man’s desire to go faster than common sense says you should. This is about as straightforward as a movie can get. But it takes remarkable skill to pull that off in this day and age of relentless critique. Matt Damon and Christian Bale both play out-sized, traditional movie star kind of roles and excel in them (Christian Bale, as always, morphs himself into someone totally new and engaging), but my personal favorites were Remo Girone as the iconic Enzo Ferrari and Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II. It’s a damn fun movie that knows exactly what it is and executes it to perfection. So for that, we are going to need a bottle that is equally straightforward, equally impressive, and, if possible, fast.
Why mess around here? This is a champagne that knows exactly what it is, from a producer that has been doing it forever, and is executed to near perfection. Plus this is a movie about Le Mans, one of the biggest racing events in the world. You know what drivers do after they win? Douse themselves with French Champagne. This one is a no-brainer.
Joaquin Phoenix puts on a performance to remember as the Joker, a stand-alone piece about Batman’s arch-nemesis that is more social commentary than it is super-hero origin story. A creeping cynicism runs through-out the movie, one that feels perhaps too uncomfortably familiar for our time? Or maybe that is the way it’s supposed to make you feel. Either way, Phoenix’s performance alone makes this movie well worth watching. Something dark and moody to drink with this movie would be perfect.
The bottle: 2015 Axel Premium Red Blend (Bordeaux/Meritage) Primero Red Blend Colchagua Valley, Chile – 91
Like Joker blends comic-book storytelling with social commentary, this wine blends a number of different varietals (all Bordeaux plus carmenere) to come to it’s impressive conclusion. Perfect for pondering the ways real life cross-sects with the fictional.
Gaining attention as one of the best adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s classic story of domestic tension and ambition, Little Women is one of the most satisfying movie experiences of the year. Saoirse Ronan (Jo March) and Timothée Chalamet (Theodore “Laurie” Lawrence) both shine in their roles, as does Florence Pugh (Amy March). The movie makes relevant the struggle for independence for these 19th century women, as they attempt to navigate their genteel expectations. Even as someone who has read the story, the movie remained attention grabbing, especially thanks to director Greta Gerwig’s smart and skillful additions to the story. The characters rise out of the screen to become flesh and blood. To match with this movie, we need a wine that would be as relevant 100 years ago as it is today, with plenty of layers to go along with it and a touch of independence.
Just like Jo March won’t let anything stop her from fulfilling her potential, this bottle will fulfill all your wine potential. Coming from Merry Edwards vineyards, it not only stands up to the movie in content but in spirit as well.
For me, Parasite is the movie of the year. The creativity, the story-telling, the acting, the cultural resonance—it pushes Parasite into rare company. Even the subtitles (the movie is made by Korean director Bong Joon-ho) are excellent. “It’s so metaphorical,” one character repeats after receiving a gift, an apt line for the movie as a whole. So is there a metaphorical bottle laying around that can match up to this movie? One that is as multi-dimensional and yet still connects so viscerally to our world? Yes, yes there is.
This bottle will have you thinking for a long time after it, and like Parasite it comes from a foreign land. The multi-layered flavors will help you think deeper and deeper as you sink into the movie.
Powered by A+ performances from both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story is a stellar picture about the way relationships can endure, change, and break apart. It’s a hotbox of emotion. Always ready with a joke to lighten the mood, the movie really soars when it’s just Driver or Johansson working through their emotions, separate or together. Not something you have to see in the theaters (it’s on Netflix right now), this is a movie to reflect on individually. And for that, you need a wine that is as easily enjoyed solo.
This is a bottle from a self-described “boutique” winemaker. Loaded with juicy flavor and meant to be paired with food, it’s the perfect bottle to comfort you while sobbing your way through Marriage Story eating microwave macaroni dinners and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Not that I did that.
Tarantino is back at it again, this time with a love letter to cinema and old LA. The reproduction of Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley is spot on (according to my mom), and the weaving of history and fiction leaves you with a satisfying, if mellon-collie end. Actors Leo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie all deserve praise for their roles—Brad Pitt’s portrayal of a man trying to feed his dog on LSD is something to behold. The movie leads you on a string to the point where you think you know what’s about to happen, and then Tarantino let’s his indulgences fly, and I have to say, it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Is there a bottle to match this movies indulgence, it’s nostalgia, it’s creativity?
Considering the large Italian connection in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, an Italian bottle seems fitting. And just like Tarantino is a respected and established director in Hollywood, so Tenuta Carretta is a respected and established Italian vineyard. The wine has style, finesse, and a bit of creative joy that pairs well with the movie.
This coming of age tale focuses on an adolescent Hitler Youth member, his resistance supporting mother, and the young Jewish girl she is hiding in a secret compartment of their house. And it’s a comedy. If that’s not enough for you, Sam Rockwell plays a down-and-out Nazi Officer, Stephen Merchant a Gestapo Officer, and director Taika Waititi plays Hitler himself, or at least the Hitler the young protagonist imagines as his supportive best friend. It’s a hilariously fun movie (as much as one about Nazis can be) that takes a remarkable turn in the final third. Is there a wine that can match JoJo Rabbit’s fun surface, with a iron backbone to round it out?
This bottle is more than meets the eye. A fruit wine that has chops to back itself up, it is as fun as JoJo Rabbit while possessing all the depth and necessary strength to stand on its own. One doesn’t expect to enjoy a movie featuring imaginary friend Hitler, as much as one might not expect to reach for a bottle of barrel-aged peach wine.
This is Scorsese working his magic. Some people say it’s too long. I say Scorsese has earned our attention. The movie has masterful performances by Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and my personal favorite, Joe Pesci, who plays a more cerebral, calculating gangster persona than usual. Stick with it and you’ll see that the movie might be exactly what you’d expect from a Scorsese gangster flick, while still managing to feel fresh. It’s a movie about the choices we make, with an ending that shines a light back on the way we glorify the lives of gangsters in cinema. For this movie, we need a well seasoned, established wine. One that is as delicious as it is dependable.
Pellet Estate has been producing exceptional Napa Valley Cabernet for a long time, sort of like how Scorsese has been making killer movies for a long time. Just like Scorsese and gangster movies, Pellet Estate just knows how to get things done when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon. A fresh re-run of a classic type.
A technical masterpiece, this movie was getting Oscar attention before it was even released to the public. While in my opinion the storytelling leaves a bit to be desired, and the themes of the movie (perseverance, hope, honor) fall a little flat when you read about the actual experiences of WWI soldiers, it’s still a movie that commands your attention throughout. As I’m sure you’ve read by now, it’s shot in a style that makes the movie appear to be one continuous take. The effect is done superbly, and some of the moments of cinematography are worth seeing in a theater whether you like movies or not. It is simply stunning at times. So the wine to match also has to be something as dedicated to craft, something that is moving the world of wine-making forward and not just rehashing the same styles.
This bottle comes from as much dedication and innovation in craft as 1917. Quench and Temper planted their vines at the peak of a years long drought in California, betting that the resulting vines would rise from the struggle and create beautiful, beautiful wine. Sort of like how the filmmakers of 1917 bet on a impressively hard technique to make a movie. Well, they were both right.
By Aldo Moreno