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Category Archives: Top 5 Lists

Top Five ’90s Throwbacks in ‘Swingers’

1.  Answering Machines

Swingers answering machine

Hands up if you ever felt that wave of disappointment when the blinking light yielded just one “Hi, it’s Grandma” message.

2.  Wallet Chains

Just… why??

3.  Swing Music

big bad voodoo daddy

Admit it, you had a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy CD in your collection.  But just one.

4.  Grainy Video Games

hockey

How did we even see what was happening??  A Sixth-Sega Sense?

5.  The Club

 

Honestly, this thing did a pretty good job of protecting our crappy Toyota Corolla on the mean streets of Washington DC.  However it did nothing to prevent my Bill Withers CD from being stolen.

Top Five Films of 2018

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Here’s the thing:  I’m in love with love.  Lucky for me, 2018 was a banner year for romance at the multiplex.  From rom-coms to dramas to YA adaptations, this was the first year in a long time where it felt like movies were being made for a 35-year old woman raised on John Hughes and Meg Ryan, and not teenage boys raised on video games and comic books.  Sure, those movies were there, but for once it felt like women had been given a seat at the table.  Most of my favorite movies will probably not make it onto any other critic’s best-of list.  And that’s okay with me.  But if you’re really into romance, great storytelling, and cool set design, you’ll be happy with these picks.  Let’s raise a glass to my Top Five Films of 2018!

1.  A Star is Born

A Star is Born

Image credit: A Star is Born, 2018.

Never in a million years did I think this movie needed to be remade.  Judy and James did it perfectly, Barbra and Kris stunk the place up, and….I’ll admit to never seeing the very first one.  But Bradley and Gaga-  WOW.  So much romance, so much great music, so much tragedy- even the large man behind me in the audience let out a heaving sob.  My favorite movie this year (perhaps in several years).

2.  Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Image credit: Can You Ever Forgive Me?, 2018

This picture says it all.  Literary forgeries, Melissa McCarthy in her bravest role to date, and a sad, touching friendship with the most charismatic man in New York City.  Perfection from the very first word.

3.  Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians

Image credit: Crazy Rich Asians, 2018.

Kevin Kwan’s book trilogy was one of my favorite literary joys of the past decade, so let’s just say my expectations for this film were high.  I’m happy to report that I loved every second of this frothy cocktail of a film, and can’t wait for the sequel.  More Kitty Pong!!

4.  Bad Times at the El Royale

Bad Times at the El Royale

Image credit: Bad Times at the El Royale, 2018.

Not much romance here, but the mid-century sets more than made up for it.  I want to check into the El Royale and stay awhile.  Particularly if shirtless Chris Hemsworth is there trying to sign me up for his cult. I’m in!

5.  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

to all the boys i've loved before

Image Credit: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, 2018.

This YA adaptation gave me all the feels, proving to Netflix that the market for romance is alive and well.  Plus, Noah Centineo pretty much made my year when he saved that bowl of popcorn.  Swoon!

 

Top Five Oscar Party Ideas- 2018 edition

Oscar is turning 90 this year, we’ve just witnessed an incredible year of films and I, for one, am ready to celebrate!  Here are my top five suggestions to make this year’s party the best one yet.  Cheers!

1. Gold drinkware

Flutes, highballs, stemless wine glasses- go crazy! It’s Oscar night!

 

2.  Red Felt Coasters

Give your drink the red carpet treatment.

 

3. Deviled Egg Tray

Share an egg with a friend, a la The Shape of Water.

 

4. Henry Mancini- The Classic Soundtrack Collection

You know why The Party is still the coolest movie about a party that was ever made? Henry Mancini.

 

5. Peach gummy candy

Make your guests blush with this Call Me By Your Name-inspired snack.

 

And what will I be drinking on Oscar night?  I plan on toasting Call Me By Your Name with this sparkling peach cocktail.  Saluti!

la pesca

La Pesca

1 oz Peach Liqueur

1/2 oz Orgeat syrup

2-3 dashes Grapefruit Bitters

Prosecco

Combine peach liqueur, orgeat, and bitters in a chilled flute.  Stir gently, then top with prosecco.

Top Five Films of 2017

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Was it just me, or were movies REALLY good this year?  Maybe filmmakers are finally realizing that people want to watch unconventional love stories, fabulous 1950’s clothes, and exotic locations.  Maybe writers are realizing that everybody’s mad, and it’s time to say something about it.  Whatever happened in Hollywood to make such an incredible year of pictures, I say keep it up.  As hard as it was to narrow down my list of favorites, I’m finally able to settle on my Top Five Films of 2017.  Cheers!

  1.  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Image credit: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, 2017.

Take all the rage I feel about social injustice/violence against women/police misconduct, bottle it up, and give it to Frances McDormand to turn into a Molotov cocktail of a film. This is the movie I desperately needed this year.

2.  Call Me By Your Name

Call me by your name

Image credit: Call Me By Your Name, 2017.

Is there anything more beautiful than summer in Italy? Maybe this love story.

3.  Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread

Image credit: Phantom Thread, 2017.

1950’s couture gowns, Daniel Day Lewis, and the sexiest breakfast order ever.

4.  The Shape of Water

Shape of Water

Image credit: The Shape of Water, 2017.

I didn’t expect to fall for a slimy underwater creature, but damn it Guillermo Del Toro- you got me. More Douglas Sirk-inspired romances and six-pack abs please!!!

5.  The Florida Project

The Florida Project

Image credit: The Florida Project, 2017.

This film still haunts me, months later. If you’re not angry about the state of poverty and child welfare in America, you obviously haven’t seen tiny masterpiece yet.

*Honorable Mentions: Dunkirk (sound editing like WHOA), Good Time (um, hello Robert Pattinson, can you please be in all the movies now?), and Baby Driver (that soundtrack!!).

Top Five Holiday Gifts for Movie/Cocktail Aficionados- 2017 edition

Maybe you have a friend who likes movies and cocktails.  Maybe you have no friends and want to drink alone while mainlining Scorsese films.  Either way, Cinema Sips has your back with this handy gift guide.  Cheers!

1. I Lost It at the Video Store: A Filmmakers’ Oral History of a Vanished Era by Tom Roston (forward by Richard Linklater)

Top filmmakers reminisce about the halcyon days of video rental.  Essential reading for anybody who remembers the phrase “Be Kind, Rewind”.

2.  Set of Coupe Glasses

You’ll be styling like Myrna Loy with these vintage-inspired glasses!

3.  Road Soda: Recipes and Techniques for Making Great Cocktails, Anywhere by Kara Newman

If you love to travel like I do, you know that trips can only be improved with the right cocktail. Whether you’re glamping in the desert or just can’t take another mediocre glass of chardonnay at the hotel bar, this book has you covered.

4.  Outdoor Movie Projector

Ever dream of watching Moonrise Kingdom under the stars? Or maybe Cinema Paradiso in a rainstorm? You need this projector (and a date).

5. Ice Ball Mold

Exactly what your old-fashioned has been missing. Cubes are so 2016.

High Fidelity

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High Fidelity

Image credit: High Fidelity, 2000

True story- the one and only time I’ve ever been carded and turned away from a movie was High Fidelity (DVD/Download) in April 2000. I was 16 years old, a recent transplant to Central Pennsylvania, and stunned to find myself smack dab in the Bible Belt. For months afterward, I waited impatiently to see what erotic, taboo tales awaited me in the R-rated and undoubtedly-risque High Fidelity.  Imagine my surprise and outrage that not only was there nothing “R” about it, but also that I was unnecessarily delayed from seeing what would become one of my all-time favorite films.

My Top 5 lists on Cinema Sips are a direct homage to this comedic gem, so in lieu of a proper plot description I think it’s more appropriate to list off my Top 5 High Fidelity Scenes:

  1. When John Cusack plays the new Beta Band LP in his niche Chicago record shop, causing all the customers fall under its spell. Perfect music moment.
  1. Lisa Bonet sings “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton. I too, always hated that song. And now I too, kinda like it.
  1. Jack Black berating a customer for wanting to buy a copy of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. In answer to his subquestion, it is definitely better to burn out than to fade away.
  1. The making of a Top 5 List of songs about death. This is absolutely a conversation I want to be a part of.
  1. Barry Jive and the Uptown Five singing “Let’s Get it On”. And just like that, Jack Black the Movie Star was born.

Although the Nick Hornby novel this film was based on is set in London, I love the decision to set the movie adaptation in Chicago. The city itself becomes like another character in the film, so to that end we should definitely celebrate this midwestern metropolis with its namesake drink. While watching High Fidelity, I recommend drinking a classic Chicago Cocktail.

Chicago Cocktail

2 oz Brandy

Dash of Triple Sec

Dash of Bitters

1 oz Champagne

Stir Brandy, Triple Sec, and Bitters together in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe, and top with champagne.

If you happen to find yourself celebrating Record Store Day later this month, don’t be too put off by the employees at your local vinyl shop. They actually do know a lot about music, so let them make suggestions. They may not be able to give relationship advice, but if you’re looking to find a band that picks up where Echo and the Bunnymen left off, they’ve got your back. Cheers!

Top Five Films of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close it’s time for my annual Top Five list.  Full disclosure, I didn’t get a chance to see everything (sorry Moonlight), but I saw a lot, even some I wished I hadn’t (lookin’ at you The Lobster).  This is always a tough list to make, but these five films were the ones that entertained me the most in 2016.  Yes Manchester By the Sea is great, but it sort of made me want to slit my wrists.  Thank heavens La La Land was around to pick up the pieces.  In ranking order, my Top Five Film picks for 2016:

1. La La Land

lala-land

Image credit: La La Land, 2016

True story- I left the theater and my cheeks ached from smiling so much.  This musical about struggling entertainers feels both timeless and fresh, and reminds me of why I love movies.  Simply stunning!

2.  Arrival

arrival

Image credit: Arrival, 2016

This intelligent sci-fi film isn’t about aliens, but rather about communication.  I’ll never look at language the same way.

3.  Hell or High Water

hell-or-highwater

Image credit: Hell or High Water, 2016

Chris Pine, where have you been??  Nobody else could make a dusty bank robber in West Texas look quite so appealing.  Quit hiding behind Star Trek and be the actor I know you can be!

4.  The Edge of Seventeen

edge-of-seventeen

Image credit: The Edge of Seventeen, 2016

Hailee Steinfeld makes my Molly Ringwald-forged heart beat once more in this homage to classic (read- good) teen films.

5.  The Nice Guys

the-nice-guys

Image Credit: The Nice Guys, 2016

Was I the only one who saw this?  If so, that’s a shame because this Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe LA noir comedy was witty, sharp, and energetic.  I’ll watch these two together any time, any place.