New Times' annual Best of Miami issue is finally here, guiding you through the best in Magic City culture. That guide is more valuable than ever, especially when it comes to Miami's ever-evolving film industry. If you want the best movies, TV, and film events this city offers, start with these picks.
Best Arthouse Cinema: Coral Gables Art Cinema. The phrase "arthouse cinema" conjures images of black-and-white, subtitled foreign films with plots moving slower than rush-hour traffic on the causeway. Coral Gables Art Cinema is helping undo that perception. It has a family program, screening classic favorites such as The Muppet Movie at kid-appropriate times. Long after the little ones have gone to bed, grown-up film fans fill its seats for midnight showings of beloved crowd pleasers and cult films: Baz
Best Film Director: Alexa Lim Haas. When Agua Viva, the animated short film by Alexa Lim Haas, debuted at the Borscht Film Festival, it had plenty of competition for buzz. Other crowd favorites that night included a weirdly terrifying reproduction of a Red Lobster commercial and a documentary about an internet-famous millennial bro who somehow befriends local deer. But Haas' dreamy, melancholy tale of a Chinese woman working at a Miami nail salon made an impression on local audiences. Haas expertly evokes the emotions of feeling lost in translation, a familiar sensation to anyone who's navigated South Florida's patchwork of diverse languages and cultures. Agua Viva continued to impress at film festivals such as SXSW 2018, where it was the jury award winner for animated short. But awards only confirm what Miami audiences already knew: Beyond the Scarface and Bad Boy stereotypes, there's a quiet, introspective side to the Magic City.
Best Movie Shot on Location: SuperMarket. A casual trip to the grocery store turns into a sharp, funny indictment of the pregnancy-industrial complex in Rhonda Mitrani's short film SuperMarket, which wittily skewers society's treatment of the so-called miracle of life. Shot at a local Sedano's, the film follows Jasmine (Heather Lind), a woman in her mid-30s, who finds herself in a Twilight Zone-
Best Movie Theater: CMX Brickell City Centre. If you're the type of unpretentious film fan who didn't make a beeline for the "Best Arthouse Cinema" category, you'll probably enjoy Brickell City Centre's CMX theater. It's a high-end experience for people who feel no shame about their excitement for the latest Disney-Marvel-Star Wars CGI-explosion slugfest. This is the place to make an event out of an event movie. Amenities include blankets and pillows, complimentary popcorn, high-end audio and projection, portable caption devices for non-English speakers and the hearing-impaired, and in-theater food service — because why should you have to miss Black Panther's latest battle to go order jalapeño poppers?
Best Miami Documentary: Rene De Dios and the South Beach Shark Club . Initially, Robert Ramos set out to make Rene De Dios and the South Beach Shark Club as an homage to the shark fishermen he grew up around and to the Miami Beach that once was. That passion project expanded into a 17-minute documentary while Ramos and producer Pedro Gomez studied film at Miami Dade College. The short film received the Faculty's Choice Award at MDC before going on to win five awards at Miami Film Festival's CinemaSlam, including best writing, best director, and CinemaSlam Champion. The documentary explores the life and legacy of Rene De Dios, a heroic figure to many locals with a devoted following of angling acolytes eager to stand alongside him on the South Beach Pier or take fishing trips to the Keys with him. But the movie also offers a look into the South Beach of the '60s and '70s and its development over the years. Rene De Dios and the South Beach Shark Club is a love letter from Ramos to his city's past and present. Now, Ramos and Gomez are crowdfunding to expand the movie into a feature-length documentary in time for festival season.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Best TV Show Set in Miami: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. Not all of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is set in Miami. The dramatization of fashion designer and South Beach fixture Versace's death at the hands of serial killer Andrew Cunanan focuses primarily on Cunanan, tracing his cross-country murder spree and fall from grace in the summer of 1997. But the story, as told by executive producer Ryan Murphy and series writer Tom Rob Smith, begins and ends in Miami, which is by far the show's most memorable location. Alternating between the lush, warm hues of Miami Beach and the blinding strobe and neon lights of the city's gay clubs, The Assassination of Gianni Versace captures both the city's timeless qualities and the hallmarks of an era long past. With Miami's beauty providing a rich thematic contrast to the inner rot of Cunanan — played by Glee actor Darren Criss in a star-making performance — it's a striking backdrop for an unforgettable television experience, as well as a tragic reminder of a harrowing moment in Miami's history.
See more Best of Miami 2018 picks at miaminewtimes.com/best-of.