Best alternative to a monster multiplex
608 College, 416-534-5252
No rep cinema offers better fare than this College Street standby in the heart of hipsterville. That's mostly thanks to impeccable programming by Stacey Donen, who's offered exclusive runs of films like Inland Empire, Red Road and Monkey Warfare, as well as terrific festivals like Cinefranco and the groundbreaking Voices Forward fest of arts and culture from Israel and Palestine. The screenings of Saraband the week after Ingmar Bergman's death were a lovely touch.
Best cult video store
619 Queen West, 416-504-7135 and 605 Markham, 416-588-6674
For those who don't want to see videos that opened in theatres six weeks ago, welcome to graffiti-splattered Suspect Video and its bins bursting with hard-to-find goodies. You'll get a kick out of the categories: not just Hong Kong action, but Eurotrash, sci-horrorsploitation and classic erotica. As a bonus you can also flip through magazines and graphic novels and ogle collectibles like the Living Dead dolls or Reservoir Dogs action figures.
Best emerging director
We?ve watched Polley grow up in Avonlea, confront Baron Munchausen and experience The Sweet Hereafter, all while politely saying no to Hollywood. That?s onscreen. Offscreen, she?s committed herself to left-wing politics. Now she?s made her assured feature debut, Away From Her, starring a raft of Oscar and Gemini Award-winning actors. She?s achieved it all with hardly a blink of those hard-to-read eyes.
Best recent film in which Toronto played itself
Reg Harkema's Godard-inspired piece of political entertainment divided critics but you had to agree that Toronto has rarely looked so good on film. This is the Parkdale we all know and love. (Look, it's Mitzi's Sister!) Let's just forget that it took a Vancouverite to turn our city into celluloid myth.
Best place to see a blockbuster
259 Richmond West, 416-368-5600
Ignore the new name and the fact that the movie trailers are now branded by a bank. When it comes to watching things explode in all their CGI glory, there's nowhere we'd rather munch our popcorn than in the middle of a sold-out screening in theatre 1 or 2.
Best recent film in which Toronto played somewhere else
The movie might begin with a song called Good Morning, Baltimore, but those are Toronto (and a few Hamilton) streets that Nikki Blonsky, Queen Latifah and Zac Efron are striding while singing up a colourful storm. Hey, if T.O. can stand in for the Oscar-winning Chicago, why not John Waters's campy hometown, too?
Best arthouse cinema
Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas West, 416-968-FILM, www.cinemathequeontario.ca
Sure, those expensive Criterion DVDs have filled in your classic movie gaps. But attending Jackman Hall is a must for movie fans who can't find what they want on DVD. Retrospectives often centre around a director with a new first-run release. But just as often, programs come out of the blue (Louis Malle's docs, for instance). True, there's no concession stand, but the trivia you'll overhear in the audience will give you something to chew on.
Best festival without red carpets
Forget Brad and Angie. Names like Werner (Herzog), Errol (Morris) and their subjects are the stars at Hot Docs, the largest documentary fest in North America. The current hunger for films like Grizzly Man, The Devil And Daniel Johnston and Wordplay - all of which screened at Hot Docs - makes this fest essential viewing.
Best free movie series
CINEMA STUDIES STUDENT UNION
Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex, 416-978-7434, www.cinssu.ca
Sure, it's fun to catch a flick during the summer at Yonge-Dundas Square. But the traffic and those flashing billboards are a tad distracting. So end the workweek with a free screening at CINSSU's intelligently programmed Friday-night series, where you'll find everything from so-bad-they're-good cult classics to films you always wanted to see on a big screen.
Best power brokers
STEVE GRAVESTOCK and NIV FICHMAN
Toronto International Film Festival programmer Steve Gravestock wields a broader influence over Canadian cinema than just about anybody in the country. Of course, if we want our power brokers flashier, Niv Fichman fits the bill. Now producing Fernando Meirelles's adaptation of José Saramago's novel Blindness, he's a consummate Toronto player who knows how to cut deals in São Paulo and where to buy clothes in Tokyo.
Best subversive corporation
Mongrel brings some of the world's best movies to Toronto (and North American) cinemas. Thanks to canny global deals and unerring business savvy from honcho Hussain Amarshi, this distributor had two Oscar nominees for best Foreign Language Film in theatres this year - The Lives Of Others and Water. And in making hits of docs like The Corporation, Mongrel has turned a progressive worldview into million-dollar box office.
Best afternoon movie hideaway
BEACH CINEMA AND VARSITY
The Alliance Atlantis Beach Cinema serves up Dufflet's goodies and Hollywood fare. But its first screenings start around 4 pm. So if your bittersweet movie afternoons start earlier, curl up at the plush Varsity and let Hollywood wash over you.
Best neighbourhood video store
THE FILM BUFF
73 Roncesvalles, 416-534-7078
A great local disc palace needs more than the Criterion Carl Dreyer box set and hot and cold running Sex And The City. The Film Buff serves Parkdale and High Park with a winning combo of smart movie choices and advice that's informed but never obnoxious. Even better, they've got ice cream.
Best movie website
POPCORN AND STICKY FLOORS
In addition to NOW's own increasingly feature-rich offerings, the rest of the online world is humming with locals chatting about flicks, and the Popcorn and Sticky Floors blog (spiltpopcorn.blogspot.com) glories in trash cinema.