It’s summertime in Dallas, when a little bit of air conditioning and darkness can go a long way. If you’re looking to cool off for a few hours, or just need to escape the real world, there’s nothing quite like going to the movies. Here are the seven best places to see a movie in Dallas, whatever the time or occasion.
Where to See Anything
OK, so not anything: You won’t find the Texas Theatre screening the latest Transformers flick. What you will find is the best repertory theater in Dallas, and all the indie movies, underground films, cult classics, and honest-to-goodness 35 mm screenings you can handle. You’ll also find regular events that make excellent use of one of the coolest historical venues in Dallas. The Oak Cliff landmark where Lee Harvey Oswald spent his last minutes as a free man is one of our favorite places to see a movie. It’s also one of our favorite places to hear live music — either behind the screen or in the lobby — and the theater’s small art gallery, The Safe Room, hosts a number of compelling exhibitions throughout the year. The theater serves as the focal point for the Oak Cliff Film Festival, which is coming up this week.
Where to See an Indie Film
The Angelika’s the best spot to catch the indie films, the art house experiments, and all the subtitled foreign releases nobody else will touch. It’s proven itself a great venue for big productions like the Dallas International Film Festival and USA Film Festival, along with the occasional Q&A and other programs. It’s also easily accessible via the DART rail at Mockingbird Station, which gives it some bonus points in my book.
Where to See a Midnight Movie
The Inwood’s got the best marquee, best bar, and best lounge of any movie theater in town. Add the bean bag chairs to the equation, and the Inwood is ideal for late night moviegoing. Mainstream new releases rule the screens during much of the week, but the kooks come out every Friday and Saturday for midnight screenings of classics and weirdo hits like The Room, Jaws, and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, to name a few on the calendar.
Where to See a Drive-In Movie
Pretty slim pickings in this category, but let’s also give a shout-out to the Galaxy Drive-In in Ennis. There’s something very romantic about the drive-in movie, and the movie itself is almost secondary to the whole experience. Either of these drive-ins will help you capture that particularly American nostalgic feeling.
Where to Stuff Your Face During a Movie
There’s a lot to love about the beloved chain (theaters are in the works near downtown Dallas and Little Elm) beyond the ability to have food and drinks delivered directly to your seat. Alamo Drafthouse regularly hosts special screenings of classic films, cult classics, and cult not-so-classics, with a free monthly screening of a surprise selection from the Alamo’s own American Genre Film Archive. It’s also worth dropping by for the occasional quote-a-long screening, which encourages the audience to basically karaoke to films like Mean Girls and The Big Lebowski. The “sing-a-longs” — recent editions have included a tribute to Kanye West’s legendary “Glow In The Dark” tour and a Madonna night — blur the line between film and dance party.
The Alamo suffers no fools when it comes to the scourge of texting and/or talking during a movie, which is commendable. As for putting things into your face during a movie, Alamo has the best in-theater delivery service for food and drinks I’ve encountered, and I say this as someone who’s not generally a fan of the whole movie-dining hybrid experience.
Where to See a Movie from the Lap of a “POWER RECLINER”
The relatively new LOOK Cinemas is very proud of its luxurious accommodations and “POWER RECLINERS” (the phrase appears on the website’s homepage 14 times). If it weren’t for the in-theater dining and the movie itself (LOOK Cinemas is also very proud of its Dolby Atmos screens and sound systems, which I imagine are very loud), I’d say this is probably a sweet spot to take a nap. As a member of the moviegoing proletariat making a journalist’s wage, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a film at LOOK Cinemas. But if you want your filmgoing experience to come with all the bells and whistles this modern age can furnish — 3D, leather Ottomans, a full bar and restaurant, POWER RECLINERS — this seems like the place to be. And the seating does look really comfortable.
Where to See a $5 Matinee
Nothing snooty here: This North Dallas branch of the massive theater chain is pretty unremarkable on the surface, showing the same wide-release films as every other AMC in the country. Its charms lie elsewhere. One of the few remaining attractions at the seen-better-days Valley View shopping mall, the theater has the lowest ticket prices you’ll find at any of the major chains in Dallas — an adult matinee ticket (for a non-3D movie) will run you a little more than $4.
The mall is a ghost town most of the time, and is my go-to for solo afternoon jaunts to see the big first-run movies. It’s a quiet place to duck into for a few hours on a sleepy Sunday, and it’s not too rare to find that you have a theater to yourself. Go ahead and put your feet up. Pro tip: Kill the 30 minutes before the movie and take a stroll through the various art galleries that have taken over the mall’s abandoned retail space. The Midtown ARTWALK is every third Saturday.
Enjoy it while it lasts. The mall is coming down to clear the way for a new development sooner rather than later.