BEST ACTOR David Kwiat Kwiat's performance as the dying oddball physicist Richard Feynman in QED (at GableStage) was in production a full year ago. Award competitions such as the Oscars often have short memories in such cases, but all these months later Kwiat's funny, touching portrait of one man's search for peace and meaning still resonates, an exceptional example of an exceptional actor's style: understated, deeply felt, and fully alive.

Miami Improv
BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE Miami Improv Streets of Mayfair

3390 Mary Street

Coconut Grove

305-441-8200

www.miamiimprov.com What do you do? Where are you from? Where were you born? Small talk can be downright tedious, no matter how good-looking that stranger sitting across the table may be. Avoid the uncomfortable silences and spend your first date at the Miami Improv comedy club, where local and national stand-up comedians will work hard to keep you laughing as you sip cocktails from a full bar and enjoy appetizers or a complete meal. (Show tickets generally cost under $20, drinks and food extra.) This really is the perfect recipe for first-date success: honest entertainment, drinks, and dinner all under one roof -- and plenty of fodder for conversation when you stumble back out into the night, buzzing from the high of a good laugh.

Readers´ Choice: Just the Funny

BEST PROMOTER OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY Mary Luft Tigertail Productions

842 NW Ninth Court

Miami

305-324-4337

www.tigertail.org Mary Luft is Tigertail Productions, and this year Tigertail is celebrating 25 years of continuous operation. In this town, that's epochal. As if mere survival weren't enough, Luft has led the way in presenting the contemporary arts to a town that even today barely appreciates them. But for her success has never been a function of mass appeal. Her own mission statement says it best: "Founded in Miami in 1979, Tigertail Productions is Florida's pioneer of innovative art. Tigertail is a catalyst and connector, putting in motion dynamic people and provocative projects in the performing, literary, and visual arts. Tigertail projects reflect the socio-economic range, diversity, and profile of Miami-Dade. Our focus is on the new -- art of our time that reflects current directions and thinking." From the ten-year-old FLA/BRA festival (which brings to Miami the best of Brazil's performance artists) to dance companies from all over the globe to unique musical collaborations (like the recent Nervous City Orchestra led by sound artist Livio Tragtenberg) to anthologies of Miami poets to programs that introduce inner-city kids to artistic expression and others that subsidize the work of Miami artists -- Mary Luft has achieved icon status for her unflagging efforts to bring us aesthetic endeavors of the highest caliber.

BEST THEATER FOR DRAMA Coconut Grove Playhouse 3500 Main Highway

Coconut Grove

305-442-4000 What's going on over at the Playhouse? The venerable theater has had its troubles in years past, but this season just about everything worked in its favor. Arnold Mittleman's slate of shows was challenging, a mix of classics and new scripts serving up drama, high comedy, and musical delight. This was backed with superior staffing -- a range of abundantly talented directors and designers, and a welcome blend of locally based and visiting actors. There's no telling how long this good run will continue, but for now the Playhouse sets the standard for top-quality theater in South Florida.

BEST HOMELESS HANGOUT Margaret Pace Park 1745 N. Bayshore Drive

Miami

305-575-5256 With its panoramic view of Biscayne Bay, its relatively new sod and working public restrooms, Margaret Pace Park is a bum's paradise. You can hop on the nearby Metromover for a quick excursion to Camillus House for some grub. You can take a stroll down the scenic Venetian Causeway. But best of all, the waterfront park's sculptures and park benches provide just the right amount of cover to allow for hassle-free indulgences that are no one else's business anyhow -- a swig from that bulging bottle of Colt 45, a puff on the old crack pipe.

BEST TRADE (SPORTS TEAM) A.J. Feeley from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Miami Dolphins Forget Shaq. The Miami Heat's signing of the Big Diesel over the summer was a no-brainer. The deal that really turned things around for a South Florida sports team was the Dolphins' decision to give up a second-round pick in this year's college draft for quarterback A.J. Feeley, who could never really distance or distinguish himself from the Fins' other QB, Jay Fiedler. Where the heck is the positive in this? Feeley led the NFL in interceptions that were returned for touchdowns by opposing teams. And when Feeley wasn't throwing interceptions, he was getting knocked out of the game. Feeley's performance on the field obviously underscored the multitude of problems that wrecked the gridiron franchise last season. Here's the positive: The Feeley acquisition was one of many factors that played into team owner Wayne Huizenga's decision to replace head coach Dave Wannstedt with Nick Saban, the most coveted football guru available. Saban is a disciple of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whose team has won three of the past four Super Bowls. Saban was so hot he was turning down offers from NFL teams until Huizenga took him for a ride on his helicopter. With Saban around, Feeley may still have a shot at becoming a winning QB.

BEST LOCAL GIRLS MADE GOOD Kerry Gruson and Karen Mitchell National sailing champions. Two years running. Both disabled. The event was the U.S. Independence Cup/North American Challenge Cup, an official US SAILING championship regatta hosted this past August by the Chicago Yacht Club. Competing in the Freedom Independence 20 class of specially designed boats that include an able-bodied assistant, long-time crewmates Gruson (from Miami) and Mitchell (now living in Deerfield Beach) overcame unfavorable weather and equipment malfunctions to capture the title. Along the way they've shown the world that hard work and determination can overcome any obstacle. Mitchell, an occupational therapist, suffered a broken neck as a teen. Today, following two successful battles against cancer, she is confined to a wheelchair but has some use of her upper body. Gruson is a veteran writer for the New York Times's Miami bureau. Three decades ago she was assaulted by an interview subject, a disturbed Vietnam War veteran who, in a psychotic rage, choked her so severely she nearly died. The attack left her virtually immobile. Such extreme adversity might overwhelm most mortals, but it has done nothing to dampen the competitive spirit of these women, both of whom are deeply involved with the Shake-a-Leg sailing program in Coconut Grove (www.shakealeg.org) and both of whom are universal champions in our book.

Readers´ Choice: Gloria Estefan

BEST LOCAL ZINE Ego Miami www.egomiami.com Since it was revived last year, the magazine formerly known as Ego Trip has grown into a guilty pleasure for readers who pick up the pocket-size monthly at restaurants, bookstores, and other locations. Like every other lifestyle glossy in town, Ego Miami is drenched in decadent fashion layouts, innocuous Q&A interviews with real estate moguls and socialites, the occasional profile piece about pop celebrities such as Gwen Stefani and the boys in Green Day, and a phalanx of picture pages capturing the prettiest and most stylish creatures of nightlife. But Ego Miami is craftily assembled with more panache than the others, owing to a clever graphic design and talented writers such as Anna Maria Diaz-Balart and Marcus Washington.

Readers´ Choice: Ocean Drive

BEST BOOK BY A LOCAL AUTHOR Come with Me, Sheba by Preston L. Allen Another convoluted Magic City tale, written in a style that lurches between Charles Willeford's blunt prose and Carl Hiaasen's hysteria, the story Allen has concocted is unmistakably Miamian. A mystery man, an oddball millionaire, and a violent criminal who goes by the unfortunate nickname "Lethal Coon" revolve around the title protagonist in this adrenalized revel by the author of Hoochie Mama and Churchboys and Other Sinners.

Readers´ Choice: Anything by Dave Barry

BEST NOT-SO-CHEAP THRILL Weightlessness Zero Gravity Corp.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

1-888-NO-GRAVITY (1-888-664-7284)

www.nogravity.com If $3750 seems like a lot of money to spend on roughly one minute of weightlessness, well, that's why this gets the Not-So-Cheap award. Based at the Fort Lauderdale airport, Zero Gravity's modified Boeing 727-200 (the only such commercial aircraft certified by the FAA) takes "teams" of 27 customers on a two-hour flight that includes a couple of parabolic maneuvers that allow wannabe astronauts to experience added G-forces (ascent), mild weightlessness (crest), and complete weightlessness (descent). It's nearly a full-day affair, beginning with training, lunch (please stay down...), flight, and informal celebration once back on terra firma. The company, founded by former NASA executive Pete Diamandis, launched its maiden voyage this past September. Apparently lots of people have strong stomachs to match their disposable incomes. Three flights out of Fort Lauderdale are (tentatively) scheduled between now and the end of the year, in July, September, and November.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®