BEST FILM FESTIVAL Cinema Vortex If the goal of a film festival should be to bring high-quality pictures to town -- worthy movies that would otherwise never hit Miami -- then Cinema Vortex deserves its stellar reputation. The fest's history traces back to the defunct Alliance Cinema in Miami Beach, but during more recent years, co-curators Baron Sherer and Kevin Wynn have lighted up many of the area's more distinctive venues -- from the University of Miami's Cosford Cinema to the Miami Shores Performing Arts Theater to the Wolfsonian Museum -- as they continue to unspool the offbeat, the unjustly ignored, the classics that simply demand to be seen on the big screen. Fifties noir such as On Dangerous Ground, French New Wave works from Jean-Luc Godard, American New Wave responses such as Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and The Outfit, as well as a retrospective of reels by Hollywood's master of melodrama, Douglas Sirk: All have graced their schedule. Some of their programming choices may challenge, but in a world where the marketplace triumphs all too often over the pure love of movies, Cinema Vortex is a program that should be held over.

BEST FM RADIO PERSONALITY Papa Keith The Beat (WMIB-FM 103.5)

www.mega1035.cc/pages/papakeith The Baka Boys might get you wired and ready for work while you're battling morning traffic, but Papa Keith is the man who takes you home smoothly and safely, easing the stress of the day with hip-hop and humor. On his daily drive-time show (6:00 to 10:00 p.m.) he treats audiences to slick urban hits, including the daily diet of 50 Cent, Ludacris, Pitbull, Lil Jon, and Trick Daddy. While some of his disc jockey counterparts choose the oft-traveled crass-and-snarky path, Papa Keith loves the kids and isn't afraid to show it. A weekly segment is "Papa's Pep Rally," during which teens are invited to the studio to give on-air props to their schools. A live teenage audience might seem like an odd fit considering that Papa Keith adopts playfully lascivious and pro-marijuana stances, but this DJ's exuberance manages to take the inappropriate edge off his more risqué comments. He makes occasional reality-TV-esque phone calls to his girlfriend. He extends raw words of wisdom to his listeners on the sometimes poignant, often hilarious, always insightful call-in segment "Cleaning Out Your Closet." "Rumor Control" has Papa Keith taking time to clear up celebrity rumors by calling famous people for verification. Sunday nights he reps his Caribbean background to the fullest with the reggae countdown show "Island Beat." His hope is to get the show syndicated so he can take his earnest blend of rhythm, honesty, and charisma to the nation. Preach on, Papa. Preach on.

Readers´ Choice: Kenny and Footy, Y-100 (WHYI-FM 100.7)

BEST FRINGE THEATER Mad Cat Theatre The Light Box Studio

3300 Biscayne Boulevard, #100

Miami

305-576-6377 Between hurricane threats and last-minute schedule changes, this wasn't the Cat's luckiest season. But it remains the most interesting and original theater company in South Florida. The acting ensemble, which works out of the Miami Light Project's Light Box studio, is particularly notable because the members concentrate on shows for young adults, a vital audience that virtually every other theater company in these parts ignores. They also write much of what they produce and perform. The Cats take chances with every show, and the result is fresh and full of risks that pay off.

BEST GIRLS' DAY OUT Rik Rak Salon and Spa 1428 Brickell Avenue

Miami

305-371-5577 It's easy to visualize the agent and the TV network exec getting together to negotiate this concept: What happens when a clothing store owner and a hair stylist get together? They open a full salon and spa featuring racks of designer clothes, shoes, and accessories. The sets alone would be enough to carry the show, especially with gorgeous Miami location shots. Even better: real life in the land of the permanent vacation. Raquel and Richard Watters have been married and in business together for twenty years, and they make sure that everyone who enters their bustling salon is treated like a star, whether it be Nicole Kidman, Beyoncé, or a starving writer who doesn't even have an agent. "You can walk in from the gym," says Raquel, "get your hair, nails, and makeup done, and then I will dress you from head to toe, including purse, shoes, and jewelry." The salon offers full massages, waxing, facials, manicures, and pedicures. And with a bar featuring fine wines, gourmet coffee and tea, and even empanadas, you can spend the entire day at the spa and not go hungry -- or care about what's on TV.

BEST HEAT PLAYER Shaquille O'Neal Sure, the way young Dwyane Wade dunks over opposing centers and dishes out dimes like candy at a parade is a thing of grace and grandeur. The way Damon Jones, who looks more like your neighbor than an NBA guard, swagger-skips down the court after one of his automatic three balls brings smiles. And the rest, a gathering of talent that brought a season of joy to this sports-loving city, deserve commendation. But the abundant wins, the reason the seats filled up for each game, the Heat's ability to spend so much time this year as odds-on favorites for the Eastern Conference crown can all be attributed to the fact that the most dominant center in the league for the past ten years now wears the black and red. When the team traded its entire starting front three for Shaq, it received much more than an athlete. He's a Greek play in four periods, the human colossus, court jester and king, Santa Claus on Christmas, and the Fort Knox of NBA hardware. Other teams can't stop him because, as he says, "I'm like the Pythagorean theorem: No one has an answer to my game." With a nickname for any occasion -- from the Big Aristotle to Shaq Shogun to the Big Diesel -- he never takes himself too seriously. He jokes with the media, is generous to the fans and the community, and is beloved by his peers. Shaq's main contribution has been the way he's created off-court camaraderie with the other players by engaging them in social activities. Going to movies or dinner together may not be much at first glance, but many marriages, and perhaps one championship, have been built on same. Take a big smirking bow, number 32.

Readers´ Choice: Dwyane Wade

BEST HURRICANE PREDICTIONS Weather Underground www.wunderground.com/tropical This season, when you get tired of phrases such as "this is what the track of the hurricane will look like if it takes a sharp, impossible turn and heads straight into downtown Miami" and you want a reasonable prognostication about where any storm might be heading, the place to go is the Weather Underground. The Website presents some of the same models that the TV forecasters use to make those cone-shaped prediction maps, but without the hours of speculative fodder broadcast alongside them. The site is simple to use and free, providing a bevy of other images, information, and links to similar meteorological sites, all adding to a fuller picture. You might even find out it's sunny outside.

BEST HURRICANES FOOTBALL PLAYER Eric Winston In a year when Hurricanes football was down (no national title contention or Heisman Trophy candidates), why not recognize the usually unrecognized: the unsung heroes of the offensive line. For all the great quarterbacks, receivers, and backs the University of Miami has produced, there's been a legacy of equally outstanding offensive linemen, including NFL first-rounders Vernon Carey and Bryant McKinnie. This year the big man on campus is offensive tackle Eric Winston. Combining athleticism (he was recruited as an RB/TE for chrissakes), size (6-7, 310), intelligence, and power, Winston was switched from tight end to left tackle as a sophomore and excelled in that extremely important position. His efforts earned him MVP honors. Winston didn't need a griddle to make pancakes as he flattened opponents by the stack. Though he was sidelined with an injury in 2004, his senior year should place him among the elite in the nation and keep the orange-and-green offense moving forward.

Readers´ Choice: Antrel Rolle

BEST LEISURE ACTIVITY OTHER THAN CLUBS OR MOVIES

Reading at the beach

BEST LEISURE ACTIVITY OTHER THAN CLUBS OR MOVIES Reading at the beach Wake up Sunday morning. Grab the paper, glossy magazine, maybe a current book of interest. Slather on SPF 30 sunblock. Don swim trunks, flip-flops, straw hat, dark shades. Pack bottled water, roast beef-Gruyre-tomato dagwood, and fresh grapes and apples in cooler. Put cooler in trunk of car along with umbrella and chair. Take Collins Avenue to southern end of Haulover Beach. Pay five-dollar parking fee. Scan beach from behind shades. Select spot far from family with screaming tykes, teens with radio, and couple with dog. In fact avoid any sentient life forms. Plant butt in chair under umbrella, take deep breath. Crack open Grisham-Steele-Dostoyevsky-Garcia Márquez-Hemingway tome. Exhale slowly. This is why we live here.

BEST LOCAL ARTIST Hernan Bas Finally a Miami artist worthy of the hype. There's a reason everyone from Mera Rubell to Michael Ovitz is singing the praises of New World School of the Arts graduate Hernan Bas. His evocative paintings are striking enough to have earned them a slot in the Whitney Biennial, though you hardly need an art expert to explain their appeal. The eye is immediately drawn to Bas's waiflike young men, homoerotically leaping into each other's arms or flitting across dreamlike landscapes. If his portraiture is at times a bit too enraptured with teen angst, well, Bas is barely out of his teens himself. And watching his talent continue to mature is going to be one of the Miami art scene's greatest pleasures.

BEST LOCAL BOXER James Abdullah Shortly after dusk inside Allapattah's Teo Cruz Boxing Gym, manager Pedro Valerio is busy assisting black and Hispanic boys and men in their bids to master the sweet science. Skinny lightweight and middleweight contenders from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American nations methodically pound at punching bags that are patched with duct tape. Two Puerto Rican kids, one no older than ten, the other a whisker shy of twelve, clutch and swing at each other inside the main ring. Just outside the ring a chiseled black warrior works on his hand speed, jabbing lightning-fast punches into an invisible opponent. He is James Abdullah, a rugged 22-year-old pugilist from Overtown who wants to be the next Roy Jones, Jr. "If he keeps doing what he's doing, he'll be a world champ," Valerio says. "He's got the speed, the size, the skills." The 175-pound light-heavyweight has been tearing up Florida's amateur boxing circuit. Abdullah's record stands at 12-4. Last year the slugger was crowned Golden Gloves champ of his weight class. "I was into a lot of stuff out in the streets until Valerio let me join his gym for free five years ago," Abdullah recalls. "I haven't stopped boxing since. Now I want the fame, the glory, and everything professional boxing can offer."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®