Posted inBest of Chicago

Best second-run house

Gene Siskel Film Center This probably sounds like a backhanded compliment, given that Film Center presents some of the most substantial and adventurous first-run programming in town. Yet over the past couple years, as the movie exhibition business has contracted, Film Center has carved out a new niche for itself by bringing back to Chicago […]

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Best new comedy festival

The Comedy Exposition When Just for Laughs stopped staging its huge annual festival in Chicago last year, it seemed there would be nothing in its place to bring big national acts to the city. Lucky for us, a group of local comics came together to create something even better: the Comedy Exposition, a showcase with […]

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Best creative rivalry

Algren and Nelson Algren: The End Is Nothing, the Road Is All &#8203  The past year brought not one but two documentary portraits of Nelson Algren, the bard of Division Street: Michael Caplan’s Algren, which premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival last October, and Mark Blottner, Ilko Davidov, and Denis Mueller’s Nelson Algren: The End […]

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Best theatrical couple

Kate Fry and Mark L. Montgomery No, they aren’t married. Not to each other, anyway. But they’ve been paired enough that I’m beginning to think of them as the Lunt and Fontanne, the Bogart and Bacall, the Bill and Hillary of Chicago theater. Over the last four years I’ve seen Kate Fry and Mark L. […]

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Best living Vivian Maier

Art Shay Maybe you’ve heard of Vivian Maier? The “North Shore nanny” who exploded into posthumous fame after thousands of her photos were uncovered virtually by accident? Human empathy shines in Maier’s street photography, the best of which hones in sharply on the eccentric and downtrodden. She’d have had a kindred spirit in Chicago-based photojournalist […]

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Best theatrical mob action

Everybody vs. Chris Jones and Hedy Weiss In February, Steppenwolf Theatre’s young adults program presented This Is Modern Art (Based on True Events), a new play by Chicago-based writers Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval, about young street artists—also Chicago based—who in 2010 decided to tag the Art Institute’s new Modern Wing. Reader critic Albert Williams […]

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Best citizen-thinker

Eula Bliss It was Jeff Shotts, Eula Biss’s editor at Graywolf Press, who came up with the term “citizen-thinker” to describe her, and it’s remarkably apt. Biss isn’t afraid of knotty and complicated subjects—her two most recent books, Notes From No Man’s Land and On Immunity: An Inoculation, consider race and vaccination, respectively—but she’s no […]

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Best exhibit for bashing a Jeff Koons balloon dog

“No Longer Art,” the Salvage Art Institute When art conservation first entered the jurisdiction of insurance companies, “totaled” works were routinely destroyed. Adjusters haven’t grown less depraved of heart, but at least today they consign wrecked art to storage facilities, usually for 30 years, until a condition known as “acceptable degradation” is reached and the […]