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 PLACE FOR ENGAGEMENT PICTURES Downtown Miami How many times has a hyper bride dragged you to the couch and forced you to page through pictures of her and her groom, dressed in white shirts and khakis, frolicking on the beach? Or standing under an arch at Country Club Prado? How about sitting on a rock at Matheson Hammock? If you want something with character when it's your turn to be the bride, try strutting, photographer in tow, through downtown Miami. The city provides the perfect backdrop for romantic pictures. Stop to kiss in a crowd or sit at a bus stop with a Miami ad on it. Lean on a pole near the water at Bayfront Park rather than against a column at the Biltmore. If you coordinate well, you could even take the pictures during one of the festivals that decorate downtown. Climb into a fair ride or just hold hands while you watch a free concert at Bayside. The photos will be more genuine, and the fun you're having will shine through the lens.

BEST PARTY OF THE YEAR MTV Video Music Awards Dear Diary: Something's up in the MIA. I don't exactly know what it is, but all week Ferraris and Lamborghinis with out-of-state plates have been zooming past me on the highway. Damn tourists with their boku bucks and flashy cars. Dear Diary: I was at a stop light today and Missy Elliot pulled up next to me. I'd do her! Dear Diary: I can't explain it, but everywhere I go I keep seeing Usher plastered on billboards and in newspapers. He's all over the place. I don't know what the hell people see in that Justin Timberlake guy. Dear Diary: Apparently MTV is having its Video Music Awards in Miami this year. That's what all the hype was about. I gotta find a way to get myself close to the action. Dear Diary: I came up with the perfect plan. I'm renting a limo and buying myself a pimpin' suit. The reason? I'm going to pretend I'm a rock star at the Ocean Drive after-party and I'm going to crash it. Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra are going to be there. Dear Diary: It's D-day. Tonight I'm going to party like it was 1999. The limo will be here shortly, the booze is on ice, and I have more plastic baggies than I can fit in my pocket. It's going to be some night. Dear Diary: Where the hell am I? I must have passed out. The last thing I remember was walking the red carpet with a shitload of celebrities like Dave Chappelle and the Beastie Boys. My celebrity whore girlfriend left me to party with Jay-Z and Beyoncé on some private yacht. I didn't care because my long hair, pimpin' shades, and rock star suit made people think I was the frontman of that shitty band Creed. Even John Surgent, one of the principals of some new club in Hollywood called Gryphon, came up and begged me to play at his grand opening. For a while there, I think I was dancing with Al Sharpton. Dear Diary: I shaved my head today.

BEST THEATRICAL PRODUCTION The Loman Family Picnic Caldwell Theatre Company

7873 N. Federal Highway

Boca Raton

561-241-7432 Donald Margulies's funny, sad play about one unhappy Jewish family in 1965 Brooklyn received a startling, dynamic production from the Caldwell team, a noted departure from that troupe's usual safe fare. Visually striking staging was matched with an engaging cast and outstanding work from the resident design team. It all added up to an unusual, and memorable, production that played like a strange dream -- fascinating, sometimes illogical, always compelling.

BEST HOTEL Four Seasons 1435 Brickell Avenue

Miami

305-358-3535 Not because it is housed in the tallest building in Florida, with hotel rooms between floors 20 and 29. Not because its staff is rigorously trained in the fine art of discreet and thoughtful service. Not because the rooms are smartly designed and tastefully appointed. Not because the seventh-floor lobby is so cool. Not because the snazzy bar, 14-Thirty-Five, invites you to linger. Not because the swimming pool and its Bahia bar and grill offer a spectacular setting and excellent cocktails. Not because it is, overall, the most sophisticated place in Miami. But because the building's owners, Millennium Partners, saw fit to hire New York art consultant Edsel Williams, who spent a full year, with the assistance of collaborator Joan Warren Grady, selecting the hotel's artwork. Forty artists are represented, and nearly all of them live and work in Miami. Don't let the hulking Botero sculptures mislead you about Williams's taste. A stroll around the public spaces is like a walk through a museum devoted to Miami's most talented artists, among them Daniel Arsham, Hernan Bas, Bhakti Baxter, José Bedia, William Cordova, Edouard Duval-Carríe, Nina Ferre, Jacin Giordano, Lynne Golob Gelfman, Maria Martinez-Cañas, Brandon Opalko, Martin Oppel, Vicki Pierre, Tao Rey, Karen Rifas, Mette Tommerup, and Annie Wharton. It's an amazing collection, capped by the stunning Glexis Novoa triptych on marble that looms behind the reception desk.

Readers´ Choice: Mandarin Oriental

BEST SPORTSCASTER Lindsay Czarniak WTVJ-TV (Channel 6) Czarniak is the dedicated anchor/reporter for Fins TV, a half-hour program that comes on at 7:00 p.m. Saturdays 52 weeks per year. She also does live reports and features for NBC 6 Sports Final. Czarniak gave up a career as a CNN associate news producer to become a DolFan, and she has inhabited the role of anchor on Fins TV to the extent that it's not just a pretty girl talking about the big handsome men of the NFL. Some of the more interesting segments this past year were not exactly about the sport at all. Czarniak traveled to the factory where headbutt-resistant helmets are made and showed how deflated footballs are cut up to create soft rubber "mulch" for playgrounds. She is cute and personable and knowledgeable about football without being a jockette herself.

Readers´ Choice: Jimmy Cefalo, WPLG-TV (Channel 10)

BEST NEW DRAMA Does Jesus Drum? Sometimes great gifts come in small packages. Set during the Civil War, Robert Linfors's brief playlet packed a real punch by examining the anguish and fear of parents whose fired-up young son is ready to enlist in the Confederate army. Linfors's timeless dramatic dilemma clearly resonated in today's wartime environment, and City Theatre's cast, featuring Elizabeth Dimon as the grieving mother, made a lasting impression.

BEST PUBLIC MELTDOWN Miami City Commissioner Jeffery Allen Public service is not rocket science. Once in office, you meet with constituents, declaim on their behalf, avoid prostitutes and smoking crack with undercover cops, and chances are you'll do okay. It's also not a bad idea to speak cordially with the press and to avoid brawls. So what does Commissioner Jeffery Allen do after about three months in office? He has a chest-butting match with his chief of staff right in front of city hall, in plain view of several observers. The aide, Milton Vickers, warned he would press charges if Allen touched him, and taking the high road, the commissioner threatened to do the same, according to witnesses. At a community meeting the next morning, Allen moved quickly to modify his hothead image. When a reporter asked about him the fracas, the commissioner spun around and called her "libelous" and "slanderous," loudly announced that his entire staff was now banned from speaking with her, and then stomped off.

BEST LOCAL SPORTS COACH Stan Van Gundy Miami Heat Much has been written about Stan Van Gundy, almost all of it centered on his humble demeanor and rumpled wardrobe, both in stark contrast to his mentor and the coach he unexpectedly replaced in 2003, NBA legend Pat Riley. Since the leadership change, columnists and sports-radio wiseacres have overused the word dumpy, made fun of Van Gundy's mustache, and generally ignored the fact that the man can coach. Sure, he has Shaq and Dwyane Wade (and Riley whispering in his ear), but Van Gundy took a Shaq-less Heat team much further into the playoffs than anyone expected last year, and he's used role players Michael Doleac, Damon Jones, and Keyon Dooling brilliantly this year. Yes, Shaq Shogun is the baddest man on the floor, but if the Heat finally reach the promised land this year, credit must go to the man behind the man.

Readers´ Choice: Stan Van Gundy

BEST POLITICAL COUP Carlos Alvarez In late July 2003, when the director of Miami-Dade's police department entered the race to become the county's second executive mayor, no one gave him a chance against the other political war dogs in the contest. Many saw Alvarez as a fifth-place finisher behind José Cancela, Maurice Ferré, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, and Jimmy Morales. Yet Alvarez's grassroots campaign, supported by the state's largest police union and enabled by public campaign funds, inflicted serious damage on the well-oiled electoral machines operating in 2004. He obliterated Cancela, Ferré, and Diaz de la Portilla in the August primary. November 4 he clobbered Morales with a margin of nine points. His success could encourage other outsiders to take aim at one of the most entrenched political institutions the world has ever seen -- the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®