Best of Big D

Culture

Featured in The Best of Big D 2014

Best Athlete

Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis didn’t have a great reputation when he signed with the Mavericks last summer. But he remade himself under coach Rick Carlisle, barreling to the rim at every opportunity, taking (and making) big fourth-quarter shots, and giving the team a swagger that had been missing since its 2011 championship.

Readers’ Pick: Dirk Nowitzki is still knocking down that awkwardly beautiful fadeaway jumper.

Best Radio Show

Think on KERA 90.1 FM

We’ve called Krys Boyd the best interviewer on Dallas radio, and we stand by that proclamation. Four days a week, the Think host logs two hours with the most diverse subjects on the air, everything from groundbreaking research to life on other planets, higher education woes, and even how to grill the perfect steak. How she does it, we don’t know, but we’re glad she does.

Readers’ Pick: Kidd Kraddick in the Morning on 106.1 KISS FM is still the mass-market favorite.

Best Local Blog

Dallitude

When your friend starts talking about the best Dallas blogs and they’re all like “blah blah blah,” and you’re not really listening because all you want to say the whole time is, “HOLD UP have you never been to Dallitude what’s wrong with you do you even live in Dallas get it together.”

Readers’ Pick: Crave DFW is a place to receive food and drink news.

Best Dance Company

Bruce Wood

The unexpected loss of Bruce Wood this May provided an unfortunate reminder of just how important the choreographer and his company were to Dallas’ dance culture. Besides heading the most talented, innovative, and challenging dance company in the city, Wood’s personal and professional investment in the community was unparalleled. We hope his company and legacy endure.

Readers’ Pick: Texas Ballet Theater delivers the biggest ballets in the grandest settings.

Best Public Official

Clay Jenkins

The Dallas County judge is a bike-riding wonk who knows as much about new-urbanist transportation theory as he does about the latest research into early childhood education’s impact on poverty. No other pol in town has his intellectual horsepower and works as easily both behind the scenes and on the retail level. There’s no telling how many thousands have health insurance thanks to the many hours he spent meeting with people, explaining the Affordable Care Act.

Readers’ Pick: State Senator Wendy Davis pulled herself up by her bootstraps then traded those boots for pink sneakers and showed the country what it means to stand up for something you believe in.

Best Anonymous Commenter

Wylie H. Dallas

He (or she) is erudite and omnipresent. Wherever a post or news article about city affairs appears online, Wylie is sure to show up in the comments, sometimes simply to quip, sometimes to offer other investigative avenues that it seems only an insider would be familiar with. Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer has gone half-insane trying to sleuth out Wylie’s real identity. He thinks Wylie works at City Hall. We’re not so sure. And we pray the mystery remains.

Best Movie Theater

The Magnolia

You can see just about anything just about anywhere, in relatively the same amount of comfort, with roughly the same amount of audio-visual bells and whistles. What sets the Magnolia apart is it is by far the best place in town to see a movie solo. It feels like your own screening room.

Readers’ Pick: Alamo Drafthouse has already secured a loyal following for its quote-along screenings and clever programming.

Best Theatrical Production

Fortress of Solitude, Dallas Theater Center

The co-production with New York’s Public Theater—based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel about two boys growing up in 1970s Brooklyn—was sprawling, ambitious, and messy. It was also smart, soulful, and surprising. And when Kyle Beltran, the New York actor who plays both a comic book-loving kid and a hardened adult criminal, sang, his crystal-clear voice punched us in the gut.

Best Theater

Second Thought Theatre

Over 10 years, scrappy little Second Thought has become like flypaper to Dallas’ top talent. The company consistently delivers provocative shows that are at least a tad uncomfortable, all in a little black box space.

Readers’ Pick: Dallas Theater Center impressed us with meaningful attempts to engage with the city, digging into plays that address race, politics, and poverty.

Best Actor

Joey Folsom

Martha Harms and Joey Folsom

Joey Folsom used his musical and acting talents to deliver varied performances. He brought a poetic intensity to his role as a Bukowski-loving slacker in Upstart’s production of The Aliens. In Hank Williams: Lost Highway at WaterTower Theatre, he channeled the country crooner’s stage presence while inviting us to witness the man’s inner demons. He didn’t need to rely solely on an instrument, though. For a staged reading of the play Cock, Folsom was memorable even with just a script in his hands.

Best Actress

Martha Harms

This year alone, Martha Harms has played a singing, pink wig-wearing Marie Antoinette, a linguist struggling for survival in a dystopian future, and a neurotic hostess who discovers a knack for surviving zombie invasions. It’s a wide range, but one that just barely scratches the surface of what the talented Harms is capable of. We can’t wait to see what she does next.

Best Columnist

Rudolph Bush

What Dallas Morning News editorial writer Rudolph Bush does is simple but not easy: he takes an issue, shows that he understands where all interested parties are coming from, picks a side, then argues that side eloquently. And he isn’t afraid to take a stand, even if it means going against his colleagues.

Readers’ Pick: Evan Grant, also at the Morning News, is still a must-read if you care about the Rangers.

Best Critic

Mark Lamster

Kudos to the Dallas Morning News and UT-Arlington’s School of Architecture for joining forces to recruit this beautiful mind from New York. In a little more than a year, the architecture critic—writing fearlessly and with a command of the language unmatched by his ink-stained peers—has become a leading voice in the discussion about Dallas’ built legacy and its vision of the future. The dearly departed David Dillon would have approved.

Best Sports Team

SMU Mustangs Men’s Basketball

A couple of high-profile upsets (including a huge win over eventual national champion UConn) under Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, all in the newly remodeled Moody Coliseum, made the Mustangs the hottest ticket in town. The team fell short, winding up as runners-up in the NIT. But next year it should get even better with the arrival of top recruit Emmanuel Mudiay.

Readers’ Pick: The Rangers are still No. 1 in fans’ hearts even as the team endures an almost laughable string of injuries.

Best Local Tweeter

Doualy Xaykaothao, @DoualyX

She doesn’t have a ton of followers (yet), but the senior reporter for KERA News is pretty much the only Twitter account you need to follow if you want to keep up on current events in North Texas (and the rest of the country, and the world). She also regularly posts photos while on assignment, so you can travel along with her.

Readers’ Pick: @MarkDavis has more than 21,500 followers.

Best Music Act

Sam Lao

Sam Lao can go from a profane rap verse to a soaring chorus in the same breath. She may share the stage with hip-hop acts, but she can do something they can’t: switch to completely accessible pop with ease. The double threat explains her explosive overnight rise.

Readers’ Pick: There are fewer youngsters dropping their laptops for noisy guitars, but Denton’s Bukkake Moms revive the tradition.

Best Breakthrough Performance

Johnny Quinn

Back in February, McKinney resident Johnny Quinn smashed his way out of a Sochi bathroom and into our hearts. Did he win a bobsled medal? No. Does it matter? No again, because he won gold for badassness instead. And that’s the goldest medal of all.

Best Way to Watch a Silent Film

Dallas Chamber Symphony

The upstart symphonic group found its niche this year by doubling down on the trend of performing live music to accompany silent films. They commissioned new scores for old films and commissioned new films for old music. Performing in the muted, though graceful, City Performance Hall, they showed us that there’s nothing quite like watching a movie to the sound of a live orchestra.

Best TV Broadcaster

Mark Followill

Here is why Mark Followill is great: when Vince Carter hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Mavericks a 2-1 series lead over the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, Followill didn’t say anything. He let viewers soak in the roar of the crowd for almost 30 seconds. He didn’t try to come up with a signature call or a pithy catchphrase. Followill just got out of the way and let the game tell the story. And he’s always that good.

Readers’ Pick: Tim Ryan, longtime host of Fox 4’s Good Day, is just as lovably cantankerous as he should be that early in the morning.

Best Music Festival

Gorilla vs. Bear

The influential music site Gorilla vs. Bear throws this annual celebration for seemingly no reason other than to take stock of the artists it has championed over the years, while also throwing the spotlight on a few new ones. Because of its role as a tastemaker, it’s little surprise that the music is more expertly selected than at pretty much all of our other large-scale events.

Best Place to Geek Out

Zeus Comics, Common Ground Games

Located next door to each another, this one-two punch of nerdom features the Eisner award-winning Zeus with its collection of comic books and graphic novels, and the recently opened Common Ground, where board game and role-playing game enthusiasts gather. Excelsior!

Best Bookstore

The Wild Detectives

It’s a bookstore, yes, but it’s also (deep breath) a bar, a patio, an ad-hoc clubhouse, a coffeehouse, a music venue, a meeting space, and a cultural anchor for a neighborhood that sorely needed one. The Wild Detectives has only been open a few months, but it’s already become one of the most multicultural spots in the city. It’s what Dallas needed and has delivered tenfold.

Readers’ Pick: Half Price Books continues to reign supreme in Dallas’ book-buying world.

Best Art Space

CentralTrak

For the artists who have been mounting shows in warehouses, storefronts, and other grab-bag spaces, CentralTrak functions as a community hub. In addition to featuring consistently challenging exhibitions, the space hosts lectures, discussions, parties, and avant-garde and experimental music performances. It is the beating heart of Dallas’ growing and deepening art scene.

Readers’ Pick: Fort Worth Contemporary Arts features a consistently rigorous and internationally minded program.

Best Performing Arts Venue

Meyerson Symphony Center

Twenty-five years after it opened, the Meyerson remains the crown jewel of the Dallas Arts District. Not only is it the most architecturally successful performing arts venue in the city, the Meyerson’s combination of fabulous acoustics and sophisticated elegance also makes for an unparalleled concert-going experience. Just ask Neil Young, who admitted that the Meyerson is one of his favorite places to play in the world.

Readers’ Pick: The stately neo-art deco Bass Performance Hall is home to the Fort Worth Symphony and Fort Worth Opera Festival.

Best Museum

Kimbell Art Museum

The Kimbell’s new Renzo Piano-designed expansion set the stage for a shining moment in the museum’s history. As the Louis Kahn building hosted the Art Institute of Chicago’s world-renowned collection of modern art, the Kimbell’s own exceptional collection could be seen in the new light of the Piano Pavilion. Who knew Caravaggio would look so great hung on a sleek concrete wall?

Readers’ Pick: The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is one of the most wildly popular family attractions.

Best Art Exhibition

DB14

With scant resources save mountains of gumption and vision, two Dallas artists (Jesse Morgan Barnett and Michael Mazurek) managed to mount a multivenue, multiple-month biennial exhibition that upped the ante on what is possible for artists in Dallas. From immersive group shows in West Dallas warehouses to the staggering Thomas Lawson retrospective at the Goss-Michael Foundation, DB14 single-handedly forced this city’s artists into a global conversation.

Best Local Sports Venue

Toyota Stadium

At the Frisco home of FC Dallas, parking is free, the game presentation is stellar, and there’s not a bad seat in the place. And lately, most of those seats have been filled, a testament to the fine work the organization has been doing in cultivating its fan base.

Readers’ Pick: American Airlines Center has the advantage of hosting two teams, but it’s still one of the most comfortable, if at times a touch sterile, places to catch a game.


View Map of the Best of Big D Winners

Editor’s Choice: Attractions

Readers’ Choice: Attractions

Credits

  • Photographer Billy Surface
  • Photographer Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports
  • Photographer Jonathan Zizzo
  • Photographer Elizabeth Lavin

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