Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Arts Venue That Needs to Be Re-Opened

    Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage

    It's vast. Frighteningly vast, for an indoor space. And kind of scary, in a medieval what-should-we-do-with-these-troublesome-dukes sort of way—part of it feels like an epic dungeon. Once upon a New York time, arts groups were able to use the place as a performance and exhibition venue. It was—Jesus—literally awesome. But then some cruel history led to its shutdown, and the… More >>
  • Best Off-Broadway Theater

    Signature Theatre

    OK, we confess to being dubious at first. When Off-Broadway types get their hands on a pile of cash, it doesn't always lead to the greatest decisions. And we've been pretty down on the celebrity architect the theater hired to help design its new home, a guy once revered but who had lately demonstrated a few Speer-like tendencies in his… More >>
  • Best Broadway Theater

    Belasco

    There are 40 Broadway theaters in New York, ranging in size from the smallish Helen Hayes (capacity 597) to the massive Gershwin (capacity 1,933). Our favorite falls somewhere in between, though it seems considerably more intimate than a thousand seats. Indeed, that's one of the reasons we like it—the place actually feels cozy. So cozy that, with its murals and… More >>
  • Best Humorous Asian Rap Group

    Notorious MSG

    With rap being such a universal language, it's surprising (and disappointing) that we haven't seen more of it here in its hometown coming from many Asian crews. Luckily, there's Notorious MSG, now celebrating its 10th year, which its leader Hong Kong Fever finds appropriate because "our material is best appreciated by individuals of the same age." Clichéd as it sounds,… More >>
  • Best Free Uptown Jazz Jam

    Seleno Clarke's weekly show at American Legion Post 398

    This city is renowned for its famous jazz clubs, but they're usually packed with well-strapped tourists for a reason: The cover charge can sting. Luckily, there are more economical options available here, like Seleno Clarke's weekly show at American Legion Post 398. Organist Clarke has a career that stretches back to the '50s and a sound that harkens back to… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Professor

    Jorge "Fabel" Pabon

    Rap is everywhere you look, but what happened to the rest of hip-hop's original culture? For more than 30 years, Jorge "Fabel" Pabon has been answering that question in his role as not-so-elder statesman and break-dance instructor/lecturer/writer/scholar. In the early '80s when he was a member of the legendary Rock Steady Crew, and for the past 12 years, Pabon has… More >>
  • Best Theater Actor

    Jeremy Shamos

    In a city rife with talented actors, it's not fair to claim that one of them is truly the best. But we will say that every year there's always someone who has especially caught our eye—a performer who makes our interest perk way up when we see his name on a press release or cast list. This year, that actor… More >>
  • Best Playwright

    Richard Foreman

    You miss people most when they're gone—no news there. But every once in a while, you get lucky, and, well, they come on back. A few years ago, this New York playwright—who has rightly been called a genius—said he was pretty much finished with plays. Because he'd made them, and often brilliantly, for more than 40 years, it was hard… More >>
  • Best Theater Director

    Sam Gold

    Some theater directors make their name through flash, drawing attention to themselves in obvious ways in their productions. But our favorite helmer these days has just the opposite style. His productions tend to be quiet. They have a calmness and focus. They rarely blare, and if they do, it's for a specific moment. There's something pleasantly enveloping about this tactic—it… More >>
  • Best Theater Actress

    Laila Robins

    Like we said with actors, in a theater town as big as NYC, there's really no one single best actress. But you know who we've been thinking is pretty damn great these days? Well, the Voice gave her an Obie Award last year for her ensemble work in an Off-Broadway show, and she was just as good in a revival… More >>
  • Best Off-Off-Broadway Theater

    Here Arts Center

    The post. If you've spent any time in Off-Off-Broadway theaters, you know what we're talking about. The post. The one that's holding up the building, sure, but the one right there on the stage, disrupting sight lines and blocking. Do directing MFA programs teach how to deal with it? They damn well should, because so many plays happen in these… More >>
  • Best Free Concert Series

    Celebrate Brooklyn

    What do artists as diverse as Brooklyn indie experimentalists Dirty Projectors, Wu-Tang Clan lyricist Ghostface Killah, reggae icon Jimmy Cliff, bluegrass legend Del McCoury, post-punk supergroup Wild Flag, Chilean cumbia rockers Chico Trujillo, and Saturday Night Fever's king of the dancefloor Tony Manero have in common? For starters, they all made appearances at this season's Celebrate Brooklyn summer concert series,… More >>
  • Best Independent Record Label

    Fool's Gold

    Walk around the city—Brooklyn is best, but lower Manhattan also works—and it's hard to miss the stickers: glimmering bars emblazoned with the words Fool's Gold, the name of the best independent record label in the city. Since forming in 2007, owners Nick Catchdubs and A-Trak have kept the label on the cutting edge, releasing music by everyone from Detroit rap… More >>
  • Best Comedy Open Mic

    Bring It! At the Peoples Improv Theater

    As Steve Martin said, "Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke." Those who have ever spent time at a comedy open-mic night are probably all too familiar with the queasy feeling one gets when a terrible comedian is allowed to go on too long. But every Tuesday night at Bring It! At the Peoples Improv… More >>
  • Best Comedy Club

    UC Beast

    Last fall, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater's new East Village club, UC Beast, opened with a party that included Amy Poehler (the most famous co-founder of UCB) on emcee duties and Fugazi's Ian MacKaye as a special guest. Although it might have seemed odd to see one of the funniest comics in America next to the serious king of DIY,… More >>
  • Best Repertory Film Programming

    Bruce Goldstein of Film Forum

    A glimpse into the Voice archives at film listings from 30 years ago shows that Manhattan, as a moviegoer's movable feast, is now but a shadow of its former self. How is it, then, that there are still nights when one has to choose between a half-dozen unmissable cinema options? Because excellent programming generates competitive excellence in turn: Anthology Film… More >>
  • Best Movie Audiences

    BAMcinématek, UA Court Street Stadium 12

    It is a well-established fact that midtown's movie houses, the not-infrequent brilliance of their programming aside, do double duty as shelters for the deranged, the senescent, the cranky, the compulsive Duane Reade–bag crinklers, and so on, all taking advantage of open-door memberships. Perhaps worse, downtown's hip theaters are plagued by NYU twerps who use ironical tittering to outwardly signify a… More >>
  • Best Local Movie Magazine

    Shock Cinema

    Along with the quaint old-timey novelty of analog film projection, New York City harbors another charming relic: the print film magazine. Lincoln Center's Film Comment bills itself as "Smart About Movies," Cinéaste provides a politicized perspective, and gorehound glossy Fangoria plugs away above Times Square. The best movie mag you've probably never heard of, however, is a labor of love… More >>
  • Best Auteur Grave Site

    Woodlawn Cemetery

    A thoroughgoing iconoclast, at the height of his fame and influence, producer/director Otto Preminger (Laura, The Man With the Golden Arm, Exodus) preferred to keep himself at arm's length from that industry town: Hollywood. Preminger's business was largely based in New York City, and he kept a townhouse on East 64th Street, which was designed in every detail as the… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater Organ

    Wonder Morton Theatre Pipe Organ

    There are plenty of variations of the live music-plus-movie equation available to enterprising New Yorkers: Morricone Youth jamming along to the late, great Jean Rollin's Fascination at Williamburg's newish Nitehawk, a deep talent pool of live piano accompanists available for whatever silent revival is afoot. But sometimes, just sometimes, nothing else will do but to hear a 24-ton pipe organ… More >>
  • Best Cinephile's Stay-at-Home Option

    Photoplay Video and DVD

    New York Video is dead—the store, if not the concept. Moreover, the West Village's World of Video shuttered this spring, TLA and Evergreen are increasingly hazy memories, Kim's has retired from rental, Williamsburg's Videology is building on a bar addition to help cover its rent, and only the Video Room soldiers on in the Upper East Side, keeping the VHS… More >>
  • Best Comics Gallery

    Adam Baumgold Gallery

    Art history is crammed with gaudy graphics—watercolor calamities from World War II vet H.C. Westermann, say, or Georg Grosz's sardonic drawings of Weimar-era burghers consorting with syphilitic whores. On the Upper East Side, one gallery cannily leavens these and other museum-grade heavyweights into shows that also include contemporary comics masters such as Charles Burns and Chris Ware. Exhibitions at the… More >>
  • Best All-American Galleries

    Metropolitan Museum's refurbished American Wing

    Don't let Red State demagogues monopolize patriotism: Right here in Gotham we bring on the jingoism with such treasures as a massive gilded eagle and that heroically scaled canvas of Washington crossing the Delaware. Albert Bierstadt's transcendental painting of an untrammeled Yosemite will warm the Bluest of hearts, as will Edward Hicks's harmonious wildlife scenes from the 1830s, which beat… More >>
  • Best Artsy Dog Walk

    Socrates Sculpture Park

    In 1986, sculptor Mark Di Suvero spearheaded a campaign to transform an illegal Queens dump site into an open-air exhibition space. A quarter-century later, you and man's best friend can stroll through the grassy expanse here surrounded by artworks that might use an entire Ford Mustang or swathes of birdseed as materials. Established artists such as Catherine Opie—whose fiery billboard… More >>
  • Best Band Name

    Sad Boys

    We have yet to create a set of commandments for bands to follow in order to avoid naming themselves after bodily excretions or common profanities, though their time is clearly overdue. Ideally, these rules would consist of a few of the following qualifications: short; search-engine friendly; familiar without feeling derivative; reflective of genre; inoffensive (sometimes); and (most importantly) not already… More >>
  • Best Composer

    David Earl Buddin

    The BJ Rubin Show has been a haven for lo-fi-brainiac shits 'n' giggles, and the show's house band—the American Liberty League, led by rumpled, rasp-throated, booze-guzzling, and rollicking keys-stabbing impresario David Earl Buddin—often steals the spotlight with its good-time odes to Coney Island and the honky-tonk, as well as the show's theme song. But behind Buddin's bumbling yet intrepid patriot-rock… More >>
  • Best Guitarist

    Brandon Seabrook

    The sticker emblazoned on Brandon Seabrook's Telecaster—the glorious mug of Minutemen icon D Boon, accompanied by his battle cry "Punk is whatever we made it out to be"—offers a glimpse into the warped yet visionary brain of the Brooklyn shred guru. Seabrook's aesthetic is a dizzying mishmash of punk-jazz fury, avant-metal thrashing, and country-twang with chunks of free jazz underpinnings,… More >>
  • Best Guided Walking Tour of New York's Underground Music History

    Rocks Off Walking Tours

    If you're a music fan, you owe it to yourself to go off the beaten path and stroll around with Rocks Off Walking Tours. Indie-concert-promoter-turned-tour-guide Jake Szufnarowski started ROWT last year with John Joseph (from '80s trashers the Cro-Mags) and has done about 100 tours since then, averaging two per week. Spring and fall are busiest for them, and they… More >>
  • Best Self-Guided Walking Tour of New York's Underground Music History

    Love Goes To Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever

    To aboriginal Australians, song lines marked the Creators' paths across the land during the time of the Dreaming. Will Hermes's Love Goes To Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever, out now in backpack-ready paperback, is only a few Google Maps mash-ups short of becoming a path through modern American music's equivalent. Chronicling the niches… More >>
  • Best DIY All-Ages Venue

    Shea Stadium

    Few of Brooklyn's all-ages DIY venues seem to exist in a way (or even long enough) to be considered an institution. These spaces, usually little more than dilapidated warehouses, struggle to establish community and familiarity as much as legalization. But Bushwick venue Shea Stadium has placed roots firmly into its New York heritage. From the venue's name, taken from the… More >>
  • Best Vinyl Dive

    The Thing

    For severe record collectors, there are few places in New York more blissful than the Thing, one of the most daunting and rewarding vinyl dives in Brooklyn. There is no such thing as a casual visit to the Greenpoint thrift shop's basement. It seems conceivable that any and every record lurks somewhere amid the thousands of densely packed and entirely… More >>
  • Best Free Jam Session

    Zebulon - CLOSED

    Sam Hilmer is one super-busy sax-wielding bearded dude. He's not only in the midst of celebrating ZS's 10 genre-defying years of music deconstructionism (with the four-CD box set Score [Northern Spy] and a brand-new lineup that includes 2011 Best Drummer Greg Fox); he has also been cranking out tunes from his skronky horn and electronics maelstrom Diamond Terrifier. On Tuesdays,… More >>
  • Best Place to Catch Acts Before They Blow Up the Blogs

    S.O.B.'s

    Tucked away on the corner of Houston and Varick streets, S.O.B.'s is where you can find artists on the rise making their New York debuts and old-schoolers trumpeting their returns—and even a couple of farewells. When Aussie siren Iggy Azalea decided to tower over a New York crowd while spitting "Pu$$y," she did so at S.O.B.'s; the New Jill Swing… More >>
  • Best Imported Record Label

    ugEXPLODE Records

    In 1991, a teenaged Chicago miscreant who obsessed over No Wave, metal, punk, noise, classical, and free jazz crowned himself Weasel Walter and launched ugEXPLODE Records, created primarily to document his own work as visionary pilot of his "brutal prog" ensemble the Flying Luttenbachers. A maniacal fusion of intricate math-rock precision, shape-shifting experimentalism, and jazz-cum-black-metal deconstruction, Walter assembled like-minded extremists… More >>
  • Best Drummer

    Kevin Shea

    During a recent gig at Gowanus jazz hub iBeam with Hot Cup Chili Pepper 7 (a/k/a freewheeling big band ensemble Mostly Other People Do the Killing + 3), Kevin Shea put on a show that showcased both his monolithically inventive percussive energy and his comedic personality. With laser-eyed focus, the ever-rambunctious Shea held down the swinging post-bop storm swirling in… More >>
  • Best Recording Studio

    Menegroth

    Nestled beneath the ramshackle elevated rails of the J/Z lines in the cozy residential confines of Woodhaven stands a ratty, windowless, white siding-covered shack, bedecked with a gray aluminum awning that doesn't exactly shout a glowing "Welcome." Beyond that anonymous steel front door, faces are being burned clean off in the fortress known as Menegroth. Owned and operated by bony,… More >>
  • Best Journalist-Turned-Rapper

    Nitty Scott MC

    Last fall, this young MC introduced herself to the BET Awards' audience by referring to herself as "the real-life rap Halle Berry" in a cypher during which she clearly outshone her peers (among them the British singer Estelle). Since then, the Florida transplant Nitty Scott MC has proved to be as talented as she is tenacious, playing shows and releasing… More >>
  • Best Block for Concert Hopping

    Kent Avenue

    Full disclosure: When this year's awards were being assigned, this category was intended to reward the best live-music venue in the city, a place that kept the cover low and the volume high and that booked all types of shows for all types of crowds. The problem? South Williamsburg has three of those places, all on the same block of… More >>
  • Best Traffic Reporter

    Jamie Shupak

    The northbound BQE is backed up at Atlantic Avenue. A burning SUV has shut down two lanes of the Belt Parkway. There are volume delays at the Lincoln Tunnel, the Bruckner-95 interchange is a mess, rubberneckers are slowing the FDR, and . . . oh, who the hell cares—we never drive in the city. Indeed, skill at supplying vital information… More >>

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