Frances

Georganne Bryant's been throwing her annual Crafeteria for only a few years, but it's already become a Phoenix holiday tradition, with good reason: No one curates a finer selection of Valley-based artisans than Bryant, whose stores Frances and Smeeks are testament to her impeccable taste and championing of the local scene. We look forward to seeing old friends, meeting new artists, and getting most of our Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop. How many days till Crafeteria?

Margaret T. Hance Park

No one would have blamed the McDowell Mountain Music Festival crew for throwing in the towel. Twenty-twelve was, after all, a bruising year for festival organizer John Largay and his staff: Last year, the festival competed against the massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in relatively nearby Indio, California, as well as Country Thunder in Florence, and MMMF's venue, the Compound Bar and Grill, closed its doors.

But rather than take 2013 off to recuperate, Largay and company came back hard. Real hard. The 2013 installment of the festival featured its best lineup ever, with the Roots, the Shins, Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, Umphrey's McGee, JGB, Dr. Dog, and more offering the most satisfying take on the festival's particular fusion — indie rock meets jam band — in a new and improved home, Margaret T. Hance Park in the heart of Phoenix.

Always quick to incorporate Phoenix bands, MMMF hired locals like Kongos, Ladylike, and Jared and the Mill to perform on a large side stage in the shadow of Burton Barr Public Library, near local artisan vendors and plenty of food and beer outposts. Smartly avoiding the festival crunch by hosting the festivities in temperate March, MMMF 2013 felt like a breath of fresh air for the festival and its attendees, and it worked out: MMMF has signed on for another edition of the festival in Hance Park in 2014.

Harkins Scottsdale 101

Every city should have its own independent film festival, and even we were surprised by the talent at this year's Phoenix Film Festival. The weeklong event at Harkins Scottsdale 101 featured limited-release films — ranging from horror and sci-fi to comedies, love stories, and dramas — from all over the country. The best part was the post-screening Q&As with directors, actors, and producers, which gave Phoenicians a chance to mingle with up-and-coming talent in the movie industry. It's well worth the money to splurge for a full-event pass for $150, so you can hit up every movie. A further splurge to become a VIP pass holder ($250) will get you first access into every movie. However, you can also purchase single movie tickets for $12 if you just want to see one or two films during the week. Next year's event is slotted for April 3 through 10, and we can't wait to see the talent it brings to town.

FilmBar

When indie film buffs and cult classic connoisseurs want to see their cinema on the big screen, there's no cooler destination than downtown Phoenix's FilmBar. The Roosevelt Row film house, which doubles as a bar, caters to a less-mainstream crowd of movie watchers, offering a selection of foreign, independent, old, new, and local films that might otherwise be hard to find in Phoenix. When the screen goes black, the evening carries on in FilmBar's low-lit yet colorful front-of-house lounge, where First Friday patrons and the nightly theater crowd can socialize over live music, DJs, and the bar's selection of craft beer and wine. Whether they're sipping imported beers in the lounge or watching imported films on the screen, locals can agree that FilmBar is a petri dish of Phoenix culture.

UA Scottsdale Pavilions 11

In the age of online streaming, movie-watching has become an all too casual affair. For most of us, seeing the latest flick boils down to a Netflix account, microwave popcorn, and a pair of threadbare sweatpants. Which is why if we're going to put on real pants, we're going to go all out with our movie-screening experience. At Scottsdale Quarter's luxury iPic movie theater, filmgoers can feel like Hollywood VIPs with reserved spacious leather seats, craft beer, a self-serve wine bar, optional in-theater service, and an extensive menu of substantial theater fare like filet sliders, firecracker shrimp, and cheesecake brûlée. Guests can even enjoy some pre- or post-show entertainment at iPic's conjoined Tanzy restaurant or its stocked bar, Salt. For filmgoers who love convenience as much as they do the finer things, admission to the iPic theater is a high-value ticket well worth the purchase price.

Super Saver Cinemas 8

One of the most important assets to any good movie theater is the popcorn. Super Saver Cinemas 8 has great popcorn. Oh, yeah, and tickets are just $3 every day except for Tuesday, when they're only $1.50. There are eight movies running at any one time, ranging from children's fare to horror flicks. So, if you don't want to pay about $10 per ticket, just wait a little while and you'll be able to catch that movie you've been wanting to see without destroying your weekly entertainment budget.

West Wind Glendale 9 Drive-In

Drive-in theaters are reminiscent of a bygone time — and West Wind Glendale 9 is no exception. But there is nothing outdated about this West Valley theater, which features state-of-the-art digital projection, first-run movies, a game room, and a gourmet snack bar. General admission tickets are $6.75 per person, but only $4.75 on Tuesday, during Family Fun Night. Admission for children 5 to 11 is only $1. Even better (and cheaper)? You can pack your own snacks.

It was really no surprise to hear that Elise Salomon's documentary Los Wild Ones won her the best documentary award at the 2013 Phoenix Film Festival. This locally raised girl's knack for capturing raw emotion while telling the story of the Latino rockabilly record label Wild Records certainly is impressive for a new filmmaker. However, her work as a producer with some of our favorite funny people in Hollywood, like Michael Cera in Paper Heart and Nick Offerman in Smashed, also had caught buzz from film festivals across the country. Salomon certainly is up and coming. She has an eye for talent and an ear for a good tale, and we can't wait to see her next project — especially if she's the director again.

You know you're a D-list actor when you have to tell the cops arresting you that you're a rich and famous actor, and then you have to add, "Fucking look me up, bitch!" That's what Jason London did in Scottsdale earlier this year, right before he took a steaming dump in the back of a Scottsdale police car. London, who's best known — excuse us, only known — for his role as Randall "Pink" Floyd in Dazed and Confused, sneezed in a guy's face at Martini Ranch in January and got tossed out after fighting with the guy and bar security, according to police. As the arresting officer drove London to jail, London continued to insult the cop — including, but not limited to, saying that his breath smelled like diarrhea — and at one point, London said the cop's car "smells like shit." The officer wrote in his report: "I looked back at him just in time for him to lean to the left and defecate in his pants. Then he said, 'I told you that I'm happy as shit!'"

Devon Nickel's been around Valley theater a while (not too long — he's a relatively young man), including in Nearly Naked and Phoenix Theatre's co-production of Spring Awakening in 2012 and NNT's acclaimed Blood Brothers in 2009. He sings beautifully enough that he could be routinely cast doing only that, but that isn't what happens, because he acts at least as well. Last winter, he took on the physically, emotionally, intellectually taxing role of utter crazy-pants Alan Strang in Nearly Naked's revival of the classic '70s British drama Equus. The entire production was stunning, but Nickel's Alan was the hub around which it all revolved, and appropriately so. We laughed, we cried, we could not look away — and yet there was so much truth, passion, and pain in Nickel's work that we scarcely remember the play's protracted nude scene. Which is not something that would escape us on an ordinary day.

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