Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Theater for Cash-Strapped Producers

    59E59 Theaters

    In New York theater, actors and directors are important, of course—playwrights and designers, too. But in this city, the biggest role in theater is played by real estate—the cost of renting a decent theater can be a killer. So it's with constant awe that we contemplate 59E59 Theaters, which provides one of the greatest rental deals in town. Take their… More >>
  • Best Downtown Theater Director

    Ken Rus Schmoll

    The theatrical hotbed that New York happily is, we're blessed with any number of highly talented stage directors. But the one most catching our eye these days—whose name attached to a show most warms us with optimism—is the quietly intrepid Ken Rus Schmoll. This past season, the Village Voice Obie Committee agreed, awarding Schmoll his first Obie—and likely not his… More >>
  • Brooklyn Rocks!

    We shouldn't have to tell you this, but we'll try, By Rob Harvilla

    Someone—and I'm glad it won't be me—will write a book about the Brooklyn indie-rock scene in the next five years. (Prospective titles: Brooklyn (We Go Soft), A Tweet Grows in Brooklyn, My Friend Flickr, I Don't Mean to Seem Like I Care About Material Things, Bleed American Apparel, or something involving the word "hipster," in which case you have my… More >>
  • 1 Dominick

    Best Reason to Get to the Theater Early

    1 Dominick - CLOSED

    New York theaters have many advantages over our London counterparts. Programs are free, seats a tad roomier, and you're more unlikely to be glared at should you express enthusiasm for the play and its stars. Nevertheless, there's one aspect of auditoria at which the Brits excel—the theater bar. At many London venues, a comfortable pub or chic café adjoins the… More >>
  • Best Actress and Best Actor

    Elizabeth Marvel and Bill Camp

    Of all the disciplines within New York theater, we're most loaded with acting talent. How many mediocre plays have we seen rescued by the performers, their creativity and ingenuity elevating the production well beyond its limitations? So it's perhaps unfair to single out a Best Actress or Best Actor from the city's many deserving thespians. But we're going to do… More >>
  • Funkmaster Flex

    Best Radio DJ

    Funkmaster Flex

    Our favorite radio moment this year: the exclusive debut of Jay-Z's "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)," Friday, June 5, on Funkmaster Flex's HOT 97 radio show. It was the opening salvo of a promotional run that would last all the way through the release of the rapper's Blueprint 3 on September 8. But nothing could top the blaze of explosion noises,… More >>
  • Best Rapper Twitter Feed


    Rappers get Twitter better than almost anybody else in the arts. Diddy made a cameo in an early internal Twitter marketing memo that was later inadvertently leaked to the press, and now even the tersest and most technophobic artists make sure to be on the social networking service—though many, surely, delegate updates to the guy who carries their weed. But… More >>
  • Best Rapper Resurrection


    This has been a great year for New York rap classicists—Jay-Z, most famously, but also Harlem's Cam'ron and Yonkers rapper Jadakiss, who released the improbably excellent and even more improbably commercially successful Last Kiss in April. But no one came back fiercer than Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon, whose long-awaited sequel to 1995's beloved Only Built 4 Cuban Linx . .… More >>
  • (le) poisson rouge

    Best Rock Club

    (le) poisson rouge

    The only thing pretentious about (le) poisson rouge is the name, actually. Parentheses, generally, do not rock. But in honor of this young Village spot's relentless and delightful eclecticism—raucous dance parties, elegant new-classical premieres, straight-ahead rock shows—let's re-adjust our definition of "rock." Undaunted by the weighted expectations given its address at the former Village Gate site, LPR is now offering… More >>
  • Best Old New Jersey Movie House Most Worth Jumping State Lines for

    Landmark Loews Jersey Theatre

    A grand palace from days gone by, the Landmark Loews Jersey Theatre provides a regular schedule of retro romping for anyone who fondly remembers moviemaking before The Fast & the Furious. Classic films are shown at reasonable prices ($6 general admission, $4 for seniors and children) for an audience mainly, but not exclusively, consisting of people who tune into Turner… More >>
  • Jay-Z

    Best Live Act, and Don't Even Try to Deny It


    It's Jay-Z. It just is. His ubiquity this year has been grating, and The Blueprint 3 is largely regarded as a non-disaster, as opposed to an unqualified triumph. But onstage, with a monolithic full band behind him—that concussive bass, those keyboards, all of the blaring horns packing "Roc Boys" with more oomph than the Star Wars and Rocky themes combined—Jay… More >>
  • Best '90s Musical Hero Hiding Out Scruffily in Brooklyn

    Blake Schwarzenbach

    November 2008, Brooklyn—Sixty or so people crammed into a living room meant for maybe five: This is the return of Blake Schwarzenbach, the former singer and guitarist of Jets to Brazil and, more importantly, Jawbreaker, the much-adored '90s proto-emo outfit. Schwarzenbach had been out of music since the demise of Jets, in 2003; a move to Brooklyn and an entrée… More >>
  • Dick Chicken

    Best Response to the Question, 'What's for Dinner, Honey?'

    Dick Chicken

    Dick Chicken is a chicken. With a penis. For a head. The concept of an anonymous tagger and joker who goes by the cutesy pseudonym Richard Poultry, Dick Chicken is plastered on every conceivable Brooklyn public surface north of the Williamsburg Bridge. Sometimes, his full name is scrawled in the comically defiant all-caps script of someone who has taken a… More >>
  • Best After-Party Spot

    Cooper Square Hotel

    Those of us who march to work each day under the shadow of the remarkably phallic Cooper Square Hotel have been known to be haunted by the sight of the sun glinting off its tumescent curvature. But anyone who has ever been to the hotel's top-floor mega-suite/impromptu lounge and after-party spot knows that the edifice has its charms, too—should you… More >>
  • Best Sign That Summer Has Finally Arrived

    Bang on a Can Marathon

    Given the generally agreeable temperatures and dismayingly frequent quasi-monsoon downpours, this past summer often didn't feel like a real summer at all. It may have passed us by entirely, in fact, if not for the River to River Festival's annual habit of throwing ambitious and wildly eclectic artistic fetes (featuring Conor Oberst, or Quimbombó, or the New York City Opera,… More >>
  • L magazine

    Best Fledgling Local Rock-Star Cheat-Sheet

    L magazine

    "I heard of ________ way before they were cool" remains the ultimate hipper-than-thou boast, nowhere more so than on the NYC music scene; if someone asks who you're listening to these days and you reply, like, "Vampire Weekend," you're gonna get punched in the face. Thankfully, L magazine, the free, bimonthly, pleasantly pocket-size arts-and-culture hub available in tiny newspaper boxes… More >>
  • Best Horn-Laden Supporting Crew

    Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra

    Just a few years ago, the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra was merely content with being quite possibly the best Afrobeat crew since the heyday of Nigerian deity and genre titan Fela Kuti himself, keeping the flame with sonically and politically incendiary records like Security and 2004's mighty Who Is This America? But lately, they're clearly vying for best band, full stop,… More >>
  • Best Way to Get Your Brass in Gear

    Brass Lab

    You might say Chuck McAlexander is a bit old-fashioned: Not only does he lack an e-mail address or website, but he doesn't even have an answering machine—it's too bothersome for him. But if you happen to need your horn fixed, you'll want to call him (mornings preferred) to get your instrument in shape at his Brass Lab studio. Open for… More >>
  • Best Literally Underground Cabaret Show

    Shanghai Mermaid

    Besides a gangster film, what's the ideal place to see ladies with hand fans, long cigarette holders, fringe dresses, feather boas, elbow-length gloves, and beaded necklaces, alongside gents decked out in spats, wingtip shoes, vests, and zoot suits? Well, you go to . . . whatever the location happens to be for the now-semi-annual Shanghai Mermaid party. Much like the… More >>
  • Xylopholks

    Best Buskers Dressed as Animals


    While fantasizing about training animals to start a band, Jon Singer decided to launch a human ragtime band that parades around as other species (like the Banana Splits)—so, a year ago, Xylopholks was born. Singer appears as xylophone player "Skunky," alongside his sidekick "Pink Gorilla" on upright bass, plus percussionist/composer "Baboon," "Chicken" on the banjo, and "Dog," who plays the… More >>
  • Best Film Festival

    New York Film Festival

    Modesty is overrated: With a lineup selected by current Voice film critic J. Hoberman, sibling paper L.A. Weekly's film critic Scott Foundas, frequent Voice contributor Melissa Anderson, and former Voice film editor Dennis Lim, the New York Film Festival—officially presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center—is obviously the best fest in town. (Sorry, De Niro.)… More >>
  • Best Combination Movie Theater, Archive, and Community Center

    Maysles Institute

    In 2005, cinema vérité godfather Albert Maysles founded (with his son, Philip) Harlem's Maysles Institute, charging his fledgling organization with the task of teaching documentary filmmaking to community youth. In 2008, the organization finished work on a movie theater, making it Manhattan's northernmost repertory cinema. Since then, the Institute has programmed everything from "Country Rap Tunes," a Texas/Louisiana hip-hop documentary… More >>
  • Eugene Mirman

    Best Stand-Up Comedian

    Eugene Mirman

    When Brooklyn funnyman Eugene Mirman does his stand-up, he sometimes tells the story about why his teacher in Massachusetts placed him in special-ed in the sixth grade. Instead of giving a book report, the Russian-born Mirman came to class dressed in a cowboy costume and lip-synched Bill Cosby's stand-up routine for five minutes straight. Oh, if only he'd attended a… More >>
  • Best After-Hours Museum


    We can't recall the last time we attended the Guggenheim during normal business hours, but we have reveled in many of the museum's after-hours soirees, flask in jacket pocket. It's not that their collections, as of late, haven't been stimulating—it's just that we rather enjoy interpreting Thannhauser and Kandinsky while bumping tunes blare through the white-spiraled wormhole of Frank Lloyd… More >>
  • Best Multimedia Artificial-Intelligence Arts Group

    OpenEnded Group

    "A.I." usually conjures images of evil, world-dominating machines, but not for a trio of multimedia artists. In the mid-'90s, Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar worked together on computer-animation pieces and were later joined by Marc Downie in 2001 to form the OpenEnded Group. That year, they collaborated with the late choreographer Merce Cunningham for Loops: Cunningham's moving hands were fitted… More >>
  • Best Classical Radio DJ

    Jeff Spurgeon

    Oh, hell, let's just call him the city's best radio DJ, period. Or at least the most amusing. The classical music scene can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously—no news there—but there's little danger of stuffiness every weekday morning on WQXR from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., when Haydn, Mendelssohn, and the rest of that strings-loving crew find themselves… More >>
  • Best Grown Men Who Still Play With Dolls

    Nick Jones and Raja Azar

    "When I was a child," intones First Corinthians, "I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Well, thank God Nick Jones and Raja Azar haven't read the Bible. Though they're all grown up, playwright Jones and composer Azar have yet to put… More >>
  • Best Queens Sweet Spot

    Chocolate Factory

    Not a month goes by that we don't receive news of another New York theater shuttering. Stalwarts fall to high rent and creeping gentrification, classic stages become trendy boutiques, black boxes give way to yoga studios, and warehouses are transformed into condominiums. So we like to order a standing ovation when we hear of a new space: The Chocolate Factory… More >>
  • Best New Music Venue That Has a Ring to It

    The Bell House

    In Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem described the Gowanus Canal as "the only body of water in the world that is 90 percent guns." But recently, that benighted waterway has become home to an art and music scene that greatly improves the canal's sights and sounds—if not its particular stench. The latest to arrive is The Bell House, a bar and… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn Gallery

    Brooklynite Gallery

    The only stuffy thing at the Brooklynite Gallery are the loads of people who come in droves on opening nights, lured by handmade invitations that always promise a memorable musical experience (examples have included sets by Soulsonic Force and DJ Kool Herc). The gallery opened in 2008, as curator Hope McGrath tells us, "after three long years of construction and… More >>
  • Best Booking Coup

    Housing Works Used Bookstore Café

    May was a great month for the little guy—Housing Works Used Bookstore Café saw to it. Their "Live From Home" concert series staff pulled the incredible victory of nabbing Björk and the Dirty Projectors for an exclusive, cosmos-colliding benefit concert in the Soho store; the brilliant Icelandic sprite and the Brooklyn art-rockers performed a suite of original compositions by head… More >>
  • Best New Brooklyn Band

    Cymbals Eat Guitars

    Have the students become the teachers? Cymbals Eat Guitars, originally a Weezer cover band when they formed in their native Staten Island, have dramatically shifted their stride since relocating to Brooklyn. Their sonic soup still contains a bit of their idols' nebbish self-effacement, but it melds deftly into psych-pop and post-punk, abetted live by singer/guitarist Joseph D'Agostino's twitching, jarring solos… More >>
  • Best Gay Theater Fest

    The HOT! Festival

    It's fitting that The HOT! Festival turned 18 in 2009. Just when Dixon Place moved into a fabulous, state-of-the-art space from the fleabag furnished Bowery room it used to inhabit, HOT! grew up, too. Six weeks of LGBT programming always offer a diverse lineup of new and exciting works, but this year's festival really took the cake, showing some of… More >>
  • Best World Music Venue

    Peter Norton Symphony Space

    One of the most grandiose neon marquees in New York can be found far from the perennial noon of Times Square—it's in the Upper West Side, nestled among the strollers and Starbucks—hawking the Peter Norton Symphony Space, a beautiful, modern concert hall that hardly needs the introduction. The broad room is best known as the home of the InterSchool Orchestras… More >>
  • Best Sketch Comedy Ensemble

    Elephant Larry

    Remember Minesweeper: The Movie? No, it wasn't produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Actually, it was a mock movie trailer by New York's very talented sketch group Elephant Larry. Done with ridiculous panache and excellent production, the short concerned a hilariously unskilled team of minesweepers (think The Hurt Locker, but with way more accidents) and quickly became one of's most popular… More >>
  • Best Political Comic

    Randy Credico

    Timing is everything in stand-up comedy, and it helps in politics as well. This spring—as a cabal of shady state senators were preparing to hijack the entire legislature with shakedown demands—comedian/political agitator Randy Credico showed up in the Albany State Capitol building wearing a white robe, a fake, wispy white beard, and a rubber face mask depicting a bald guy… More >>
  • Screaming Females

    Best Guitar-Shredder

    Screaming Females

    In the history of rock music, there have been exactly zero even tolerable covers of "Cortez the Killer," so please understand how improbable it is that New Brunswick, New Jersey's Screaming Females are now offering a stupendous version of the Neil Young weeper on their MySpace page, sped up and imbued with a menacing, bizarrely erotic swagger. The shred-punk trio's… More >>
  • Best Small Press

    Melville House

    Melville House's 2008 leap across the Hudson River from Hoboken to DUMBO means they're fully ours now, and Amen. There is no shortage of small and independent presses in New York City, but Melville House—whose stable includes both an avant-fiction wing, of the Tao Lin/Stephen Dixon variety, and a lively political nonfiction roster that includes Mark Danner, Renata Adler, and… More >>
  • Best Music Critic


    With all apologies to our own Rob Harvilla, as well as every other human on the planet, this one we have to give to Rapidshare, the inanimate Internet technology that allows users to host and trade files online without the interference of antiquated middlemen like, say, the employees of this newspaper. File-sharing isn't news on the Net, of course—Napster debuted… More >>
  • Best Reason to Read 'The New Yorker'

    Kelefa Sanneh

    Seymour Hersh has the impeccable stats, the arts critics are, by and large, a murderers' row, and Hertzberg's got a certain gentlemanly leftist rage on lock, but the best reason to read The New Yorker these days is Kelefa Sanneh, the youthful refugee from The New York Times who was scooped up in a savvy move early last year. His… More >>
  • Best Young Writer

    Wells Tower

    Young talent, however beleaguered and outer Bushwick it gets, remains one of New York's selling points. And, in the mostly non-electrified literary community, youthful debuts are about as exciting as things get, give or take a new Philip Roth novel. So far, this year's debut to beat is Wells Tower's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, an eerily assured, unsettling story collection… More >>