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Category Archives: Top 5 Lists

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.

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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.

Top Five Movie Presidents

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Happy Election Day! I know, the future of our nation rests on the results tonight. However, I felt it time to weigh in on an even more important topic- fictional presidents. There have been so many memorable performances, making it incredibly hard to choose. Nevertheless, here are my picks for Top Five Movie Presidents.  They may not be who I’d want in office (except you Michael Douglas!!) but they are the most memorable:

  1. Bill Pullman, Independence Day
bill-pullman

Image Credit: Independence Day, 1996

Ah, Bill Pullman. Or is it Paxton? No, it’s Pullman. He’s the voice of reason in an otherwise campy doomsday fest. He will not vanish without a fight!!!

2.  Billy Bob Thornton, Love Actually

billy-bob-thornton

Image credit: Love Actually, 2003

Is this supposed to be Bill Clinton? With the accent of a Bush? Either way, his performance is smarmy and perfect, and gives America a sense of what the rest of the world thinks of our elected officials.

3.  Michael Douglas, The American President

michael-douglas

Image Credit: The American President, 1995

He’s handsome, he’s single, he’s a Democrat- what more could a girl want? Oh, he also gives fantastic inspirational speeches, wants to pass meaningful gun legislation, and still gets nervous around a beautiful woman. *sigh*

4.  Terry Crews, Idiocracy

terry-crews

Image Credit: Idiocracy, 2006

This one hits a little too close to home. Political satire or Mike Judge’s crystal ball? Only time will tell.

5. Dennis Quaid, American Dreamz

dennis-quaid

Image credit: American Dreamz, 2006

Oh, thinly-veiled W.  Bless your little heart.

Top 5 Andy Warhols

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My latest television obsession, HBO’s Vinyl, has gotten me thinking of all the great Andy Warhol portrayals in cinema. John Cameron Mitchell plays him on the TV show (unfortunately not very well), but throughout the years there have been some fantastic, creepy, and just plain weird versions of the eccentric pop artist. This week, I’m highlighting the Top 5 Andy Warhols, in ranking order.

1. Jared Harris, I Shot Andy Warhol

jared harris i shot andy warhol

Image Credit: I Shot Andy Warhol, 1996

This is by far the best Andy. Harris plays him as bored, lonely, and slightly naïve. Or is he? I want to check into the Chelsea Hotel and find out.

2.  Guy Pearce, Factory Girl

guy pearce factory girl

Image Credit: Factory Girl, 2006

Here we see Andy as part cinematic auteur, part heartless manipulator. Leave it to an Australian to nail the voice.

3.  David Bowie, Basquiat

David Bowie Basquiat

Image credit: Basquiat, 1996

I like to think of this as “Whimsical Warhol”. Bowie seems slightly stoned, like the looney old man down the street who wandered out without his nurse.

4.  Crispin Glover, The Doors

Crispin Glover The Doors

Image credit: The Doors, 1991

By far the creepiest Warhol. Do not let him put you in a movie Jim!! Walk away!!!!!!

5.  Bill Hader, Men in Black 3

Bill Hader Men in Black 3

Image credit: Men in Black 3, 2012

This one just makes me laugh.  I’d have believed it more if Hader played Warhol as an alien rather than a MIB agent, but still funny.

Top 5 Movies of 2015

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Full disclosure: I am not a professional film critic. I know what I like, and if you read this blog, you know that tends to include a lot of Rom-Coms and Dramas, and not so much Action and Sci-fi. So while I liked Mad Max: Fury Road more than I thought I would, and Hateful Eight was a FANTASTIC three hours of blood spatter and Ennio Morricone music, they didn’t make the cut. So here they are, my Top 5 Movies of 2015, in ranking order.

  1. Brooklyn
Brooklyn

Image credit: Brooklyn, 2015

Saoirse Ronan is all grown up in this wonderful movie about an Irish immigrant beginning her life in 1950’s Brooklyn. A love triangle, pretty clothes, and fun accents- yes please!

  1. Carol
carol

Image Credit: Carol, 2015

I knew just by the trailer that this would be one of my favorites of the year, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are fantastic as star-crossed lovers, and even Kyle Chandler holds his own against the powerhouse that is Blanchette. Plus, fabulous 1950’s clothes and martinis are always the way to my heart.

  1. Far from the Madding Crowd
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (2015)

Image Credit: Far from the Madding Crowd, 2015

I hate to make yet ANOTHER pick based on costumes, but good lord these are fantastic. The buttons! The gingham! I died. Carey Mulligan is wonderful as classic heroine Bathsheba Everdeen, and the men who court her aren’t too shabby either. This picturesque film of 19th century England makes me want to move to a farm with my border collie and raise sheep (if I can do it wearing one of Carey Mulligan’s costumes).

  1. The Martian
the-martian

Image credit: The Martian, 2015

I didn’t expect to like this MacGyver-in-Space film from Ridley Scott, but I was pleasantly surprised! Matt Damon is back in fighting form as an astronaut trapped on Mars, and the supporting cast adds levity and heart to the story. Really, I just like movies about smart people. Growing potatoes and harvesting water on Mars is pretty smart.

5.  Joy

Image credit: Joy, 2015

Image credit: Joy, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Lucci.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

*Disagree?  Go ahead, tell me what your favorites are!

Top Five Movie Trilogies

With Thanksgiving upon us, I know I’ll soon be in the market for a good excuse to relax after the big meal. If you’re willing to commit to a comfy sofa, and total radio silence from relatives, I suggest you select a stellar movie trilogy and settle in for the night. What follows is my list of Top Five Movie Trilogies. These will get you past the initial food coma, through leftovers/second dinner, and eventually cocktails and pie. Timing is key. Cheers!

  1.  The Godfather trilogy
the godfather

Image credit: The Godfather Part II, 1974

This is how trilogies should be done. Family drama, a dead horse, and a lot of red sauce. Cannoli anyone?

2.  The Bourne trilogy

bourne identity

Image credit: The Bourne Identity, 2002

I’m not typically one for action flicks, but when it includes Matt Damon and glamorous European capitals, I can’t resist. More tortured and damaged than Bond, Jason Bourne could be any one of us. You know, anyone with insane “kill a man with his bare hands” skills.

3.  The Ocean’s trilogy

oceans

Image credit: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

This trio of movies featuring Danny Ocean and his crew of Hollywood A-listers will certainly keep you awake even after the tryptophan begins to take effect. And with scenes of Brad Pitt CONSTANTLY eating, you may feel the urge to join him. Go right ahead.

4.  The Before trilogy

before sunrise

Image credit: Before Sunrise, 1995

Perhaps an unconventional choice, but sometimes a person just wants something small, intimate, and wonderful.  Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight are quite possibly the most romantic films ever made, and I can’t think of anyone better than Jesse and Celine to share an evening with.  Je t’aime.

5.  The Star Wars trilogy (IV-VI)

Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford

Image credit: Star Wars, 1977

I’m including the original Star Wars trilogy because I fear there might be a mutiny among my readers if I didn’t. Contrary to public opinion, yes I have seen Star Wars, and sorry, it’s just not my thing. However, watching the original trilogy films back-to-back is the only way I would want to see them again. It keeps you in the moment, tuned in, and invested in the fantasy. Plus, young Harrison Ford. Enough said.*

(*Gotta admit, if my only goal is to watch 6 hours of Harrison Ford, I’d personally opt for the Indiana Jones trilogy instead.  But I know- Star Wars is a big deal).