Silverspot Cinema
Silverspot Cinemas

If you're the type of moviegoer who enjoys fully reclinable seats and in-theater dining service from a chef-driven menu, Silverspot has a spot for you. The sprawling, multilevel theater, which opened in 2018, still flies a bit under the radar, which for those in the know means most weekends are free from hordes of movie-talking teens and ridiculously long concession lines. Crucially, the theater offers a killer happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, when cinephiles can snag beat-the-clock drink specials and discounted bar bites before the lights go down and the curtain goes up.

Miami native Kareem Tabsch loves movies — so much so that the cinephile not only owns his own art-house theater (O Cinema), but he also directs and produces films himself. His acclaimed 2018 documentary The Last Resort profiled photographers Andy Sweet and Gary Monroe and the Miami Beach Jewish retiree community they photographed in the 1970s. Last year's Mucho Mucho Amor, made in collaboration with co-director Cristina Costantini and co-producer Alex Fumero, tells the story of the late Puerto Rican astrologer and Miami icon Walter Mercado. The team received various accolades for the film, including an Emmy nomination. We hear Tabsch is now at work on a documentary about the legendary Miami pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager.

Best Miami Documentary
Photo courtesy of HBO

Directed by Miami's own Billy Corben, 537 Votes tells the wild — and entirely factual — story of how the entire 2000 presidential election came down to a mere 537 votes cast in Miami-Dade County. The 109-minute documentary features interviews with political analyst Fernand Amandi and political consultant/presidentially pardoned felon Roger Stone, among other talking heads. With a heaping helping of archival footage, it tells a chilling story of what happens when national politics meets Miami politics. The hanging chads, the recount, the protests outside of the Stephen P. Clark Center in downtown — 537 Votes has it all. The film, available for streaming on HBO, was co-produced by Alfred Spellman, Corben's longtime collaborator and cofounder of their production company, Rakontur Films. Don't be surprised if Rakontur snags this honor next year: The production company's latest documentary, a six-part miniseries titled Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami, premiered in August 2021 on Netflix — and it's a hoot from start to finish.

Best Movie Shot on Location
Photo by Gato Suaya

Many Miamians will remember feeling rage following the 2013 tragedy of artist Israel "Reefa" Hernandez, an 18-year-old Colombian immigrant who was tasered to death by a Miami Beach police officer who caught the artist spray-painting a shuttered McDonald's. Reefa tells the heartbreaking real-life story of the young artist's life in Miami, his time with friends and family, and his art aspirations, all leading up to the death that sprouted protests and rage from the community devastated by another instance of police brutality. Sticking to the story's roots, the film was shot in locations throughout Miami, including Buena Vista, Key Biscayne, Wynwood, and Miami Beach. After some pandemic-induced delays, Jessica Kavana Dornbusch's film premiered early this year at the Miami Film Festival.

Best Art Fair
©Victor Berga

During Miami Art Week, Design Miami has always been somewhat of an outlier among the fairs that pop up. While every other fair focuses on, well, art — paintings, sculpture, photography, installations, etc. — Design Miami makes a case for furniture. Except, the kind of furniture at the fair isn't the kind you find at Rooms to Go or Ikea. They are objets d'art — quite literally, art objects. Last year, Design Miami took the limitations posed by the pandemic as an opportunity to recenter itself. Art Week and its associated fairs have become something of a bloated affair, but in taking over the Moore Building, Design Miami went back to basics in highlighting the best in contemporary furniture and design. Here's hoping that when it returns in December, it retains some of that attitude.

Best Festival
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg

You might think there weren't so many festivals to choose from this past year. And you'd be sort of right. But when it comes down to it, which did it best? The festival that went virtual? The festival that required proof of vaccination/negative COVID-19 tests and certifiedCOVID-19 detection dogs?Or the one that was a free-for-all super-spreader? We prefer the middle option. In fact, we love howSouth Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF)founder and directorLee Brian Schrager and his team running the 20th-anniversary edition of it didn't back down from the challenges. Instead, they embraced them, and in doing so, incorporated more than 300 chefs, mixologists, winemakers, spirits producers, artisans, and lifestyle personalities than ever before — many of them from the Miami area or nearby. As a result, SOBEWFF continued to benefitstudents of Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, as well as raise necessary and meaningful funds for thefestival's COVID relief fund through lead-up and year-round events that directly help the restaurant community and its workers.

After an entire year without music festivals, the Bayfront Jazz Festival was an oasis in the desert for those who live and breathe the live music experience. The inaugural edition, held April 30 and May 1, was the first music festival with more than 1,000 people in attendance since the pandemic started. Those who attended were treated to quite a show. From performances by neo-soul vibraphone legend Roy Ayers and jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgestone to the heart-nourishing piano stylings of Cuban master Chucho Valdés, the Bayfront Jazz Festival reminded us of what our music-loving souls have been missing. Here's hoping it was a taste of things to come; the festival organizers at Melrose Media promise a 2022 encore.

Gramps
Photo by Alex Markow

Expect to see damn near anything and anyone at Gramps. The kitschy Wynwood dive bar offers a cornucopia of live entertainment, from local DJs to traveling bands to some of Miami's most beloved queer events (like the drag show Double Stubble). Mirroring the arts district in which it resides, Gramps' outdoor seating boasts walls and walls of murals in a rainbow of colors with dizzying designs. So if you're just looking to hang back, drink some craft beers or cocktails and eat some pizza (yes, they have pizza) while taking in the sights, there's a space for you. Gramps is open every day except Wednesday; hours are noon to around midnight (noon to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday).

North Beach Bandshell
Photo courtesy of the Rhythm Foundation

Despite its prosaic-sounding name, the North Beach Bandshell, designed and built by Norman Giller and Associates, is one of Miami Beach's most recognizable architectural landmarks. It's served as a cultural nucleus since its construction in 1961. In its early days, the bandshell hosted weekly dances, and was once the backdrop for a special winter edition of The Mike Douglas Show. In 2015, the Rhythm Foundation was given the keys to the storied venue, and its mission to grow the bandshell's legacy as a music and community hub took off. In recent years, the venue has played host to acts from around the world, attracting to Miami some of the global diversity it tends to lack owing to its geography, and staging shows by national treasures like Robert Glasper and Big Freedia — always with an eye toward uplifting local talent as well. In the wake of this year's Surfside disaster, management didn't skip a beat, announcing it would pause programming to serve as a relief center for emergency services — proving once again the bandshell's special place at the heart of the community.

Space Park Miami
Photo by Adinayev

The great minds behind Club Space and Bar Lab have created a new, outdoor venue where music lovers can congregate. Since it opened early this year, the Little Haiti venue has attracted an eclectic audience who come for a multitude of activities, from parties to yoga. With a variety of food and drink to choose from and plenty of places to sit and relax, patrons can have a chill time (as long as it doesn't pour down rain). Space Park Miami was the setting for the III Joints event in April and has hosted numerous local artists Rick Moon, Jaialai, and Donzii (to name a few), as well as a wide range of out-of-towners including Omar Apollo, who will perform at the venue on September 18. If you haven't yet checked out a performance at Space Park, consider yourself exhorted.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®