Best Picture Analogies
Do you know which film won for Best Picture at the Oscars in 2004? The Return of the King, part three of the Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. Not a serious drama, nor a life-changing, eye-opening take on the human condition, but rather a fun, adventurous story about trolls, wizards, and warriors. Do you know which film won in 1996? Braveheart, an action movie with Mel Gibson about freedom-loving Scots wearing kilts and swinging clubs. In 1998, they gave the top prize to Titanic. In 1995, it was Forrest Gump. These aren't exactly films that stretch our understanding of cinema to new realms or push the boundaries of art to new limits. Not every Academy Award winning film is a complex, deep, thought-provoking experience that challenges the mind and impacts the soul. Sometimes the Academy rewards movies that are just plain watchable and entertaining; flicks that are fun and well-made simultaneously. Accolades aren't always just for the avant-garde.
I strongly believe that Midnight Run is one of the best movies ever made. Not in an ironic sense, but literally. Yes, a buddy action-comedy with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin is, in my mind, one of the most intelligent and witty triumphs in modern film-making. You can have fun while maintaining a sense of quality and style (don't tell that to whisky geeks though). Life is not a choice between entertainment or integrity. One of the best products we sell at K&L is the Blason Box of Bianco: a three liter bag of Italian white wine with a built-in tap that costs twenty bucks. It's a custom-made cuvee that gives the K&L employees exactly what they want: high quality hooch in an easy-to-consume party format. We now have pinot noir in a can, too. It looks like beer, but it's really a silver bullet filled with delicious Oregon red wine, ready for your tail-gate needs. It's where functionality and freshness collide.
Yesterday there were people asking me about the Crown Royal post, looking for a bit more insight. Some readers were shocked that the Whisky Advocate would bestow such a high score to such a simple, drinkable whisky. "Crown Royal? Really?" But why is it so hard to believe that something that tastes so good—blended or not—could garner critical acclaim to boot? Are we going to act like Terminator 2: Judgement Day isn't a good movie because Arnold is in it? Or Avatar because it launched in 3D? Or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade because James Bond plays a whimsical wimp? The world of great spirits isn't just a theater full of serious dramas and authentically-acted bio-pics. It's not a multiplex that shows only Citizen Kane and 2001: A Space Odyssey on repeat. It's not just a never-ending hall of Goddard and Kurosawa (and Karuizawa). We can celebrate accessibility without relinquishing our street cred.
There is room in the best picture race for a well-made action movie. There is room in the Michelin guide for the world's best pizza parlors. There is room in the Rock and Roll hall of fame for the Ramones. And there is room on the list of the year's best whiskies for Crown Royal.
To act like this is a shocking revelation is perhaps ridiculous, not the other way around.