Best of L.A.

Best Of 2011


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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Screenplay Treatment for Lost Weekend II
El Capitan Theater

Harsh morning sunlight bouncing off unforgiving concrete makes Hollywood hangovers a little bit crueler than the rest. Escape your unfortunate present by hauling your half-drunk ass up the El Capitan Theater steps to a 1920s movie palace balcony — a creature all but extinct — and into a Hollywood past preserved in amber. Leave the world of screaming kids and half-remembered regrets far below as you ascend ever closer to the ornate East Indian ceiling that speaks to a bygone exoticism and never judges you. Nurse your heavy head in the cool darkness as the dulcet tones of the Mighty Wurlitzer waft their way up to you before the curtains part and you drift off into a hazy past when seeing a movie was A Big Deal. Time your visit for those in-between weeks and you're rewarded with an old hand-drawn animated classic lovingly crafted by Disney's Nine Old Men. Hydrate well from your lofty vantage point, and by the time you are awoken from your reverie and re-enter the bright world of the present, you'll feel better about the town you decided to call home. Forget your troubles, and come get Dopey. 6838 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. (818) 845-3110,

—Devin Flanigan

6838 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028
Best Lady Hopheads
Eagle Rock Brewery
Photo: Sarah Bennett

Leave the appletinis and gossip to the Sex and the City gals — this ladies' night is more about IPAs and home-brewing tips. Every third Wednesday of the month gals are invited to Eagle Rock Brewery for the Women's Beer Forum, to taste, learn about and discuss rare and delicious craft beers. You need not be a microbrew enthusiast to attend. The event is as much for the beer-curious as it is for aficionados. Venue co-owner Ting Su founded the forum last March, in part to educate ladies about beer in a space that feels less judgmental than, say, that sketchy dive bar on your block. It draws a diverse crowd, and serves as a rare opportunity for suds-minded women in L.A. to meet each other and make new friends. There's nothing but beer on the agenda, but, sorry fellas — no boys allowed. 3056 Roswell St., Atwater Village. (323) 257-7866,

-Andrea Domanick

3056 Roswell St., Los Angeles, 90065
Best Magic in the Air
Museum of Neon Art

Although the Museum of Neon Art is moving to Glendale, its incredibly fun downtown bus tours continue. Start out with a little social and liquid lubrication, aka drinks and appetizers, before climbing onto an open-top double-decker bus to cruise the streets of L.A. for two hours in search of the city's best neon art. Well-versed docents help you discover both the history of neon and Los Angeles as seen through its old neon signs. Akin to the L.A. Conservancy in its efforts, the museum's mission statement proclaims that it "encourages learning and curiosity through the preservation, collection and interpretation of neon art." Judging by its blast of a bus tour, it's fulfilling that mission. Visit its website for an entertainingly informative explanation of how neon really works. (Yes, I'm a geek.) 136 W. Fourth St., dwntwn.;

—Elizabeth Bernheim

136 W. Fourth St., Los Angeles, 90013
Best Handmade Museum
Craft and Folk Art Museum

I am always amazed at how many people don't seem to know about the Craft and Folk Art Museum. With a fascinating history — it began in 1965 as The Egg and The Eye, an avant-garde café and shop — and a forward-thinking philosophy, this incredibly intimate gem of a museum was capturing the beauty and artistic integrity of the functional and international before anyone either promoted or protested the ideals of globalization. From Joseph Cornell's shadow boxes to a just-closed show of Jennifer Angus' extraordinary insect installations, this tiny museum, which feels like an uber-hip New York art gallery, presents some of the most expertly curated shows around. With affordable craft classes for both children and adults, this is one museum you owe it to yourself to visit and join. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile. (323) 937-4230,

—Elizabeth Bernheim

5814 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036
Best Place to Barter With Your Kids
Kidspace Museum

Sure, you've let your children blow off steam running through the outside spray fountains. And I know you've explored the interactive exhibits about bugs. But did you know you also can barter some of those curious seedpods and snakeskins you found on your last hike? Kidspace Museum's Nature Exchange allows you to trade your wild discoveries for other natural treasures such as polished minerals, shells and fossils. You are allowed to bring in three items at a time, and points are given based on both the item's rarity and your child's ability to explain it. The more research you've done together — they even have field guides there to help you look up all your finds — the better. By the way, ask me the history of ginkgo trees. 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 449-9144,

—Elizabeth Bernheim

480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, 91103
Best Chamber Music in Historic Sites
Da Camera Society

For anyone who thinks local history is limited to the Walk of Fame, Disneyland and Grauman's Chinese, the Da Camera Society unearths L.A.'s best hidden landmarks with its live performance series Chamber Music in Historic Sites. Founded at Mount St. Mary's College in 1973, the Da Camera Society takes its name from musica da camera, a 17th-century Italian term for chamber music. The organization reinvigorates the classical tradition by bringing it away from the auditoriums and back into the "chambers" of today — including the Bradbury Building, the L.A. Zoo and the Pompeian Room at the Doheny Mansion‚ an Eisen & Hunt building with a massive Tiffany glass ceiling. Highlights from the Da Camera Society's most recent concert series include the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra at the new LAPD Headquarters downtown; Tanya Tomkins on Baroque cello at the former Flintridge Biltmore Hotel; and the Harlem Gospel Choir at the Trinity Baptist Church in Jefferson Park. 10 Chester Place, University Park. (213) 477-2929,

—Tanja M. Laden

10 Chester Place, Los Angeles, 90007

Best Screenplay Treatment for Lost Weekend II: El Capitan Theater


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