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Best Of 2002

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Film Festival

Yeah, yeah, we know you've heard it all before: As we've declared for the past two years, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is tops. And as the festival approaches its 17th season, that's truer than ever. Organizers like to cite numbers -- how it has grown from 7 days to 28, from 20 or so films to more than a hundred, from 20 screenings to 300, from 1500 in attendance to nearly 70,000. Despite those impressive stats, however, what really distinguishes the festival is its continuing commitment to movies you're highly unlikely to see at any of the megaplex chains. Where else, for instance, could you have seen last year's Soul Bowl, a funky little documentary about a longtime rivalry between two Broward County high school football teams? Or such defiantly noncommercial movies as The Zookeeper, which casts Sam Neill in the title role of a drama set in a war-torn Eastern European country, and The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, which plops Richard Dreyfuss into the Amazon rain forest as an aging Hispanic explorer? Or, for that matter, the extraordinary Australian flick Lantana -- with a startling ensemble cast featuring Anthony LaPaglia, Barbara Hershey, and Geoffrey Rush -- that went on to receive rave reviews nationally but never caught on with audiences or the academy? That's what an international film festival should give us. Let's just hope ours doesn't settle into complacency.

Best Rock Band

Good things do come from Boca Raton: fine matzo ball soup, for instance. The blue hair rinse is divine. And Baby Robots, Boca's resident art-damaged combo, provides the town with a slightly deviant edge that it has long lacked. Why? Because the 'bots -- product of a team of visual and sonic artists creating in a virtual vacuum -- rip up the South Florida rock rule book. Irrepressible guitarist/singer Bobby Baker is exploding with ideas, some just as likely to dissolve into a mud puddle of distortion as to reach sonic transcendence. But more often than not, the Baby Robots strike a remarkable balance between psychosis and eloquence. And that's something Boca Raton could use more often.

Best Rock Band

Good things do come from Boca Raton: fine matzo ball soup, for instance. The blue hair rinse is divine. And Baby Robots, Boca's resident art-damaged combo, provides the town with a slightly deviant edge that it has long lacked. Why? Because the 'bots -- product of a team of visual and sonic artists creating in a virtual vacuum -- rip up the South Florida rock rule book. Irrepressible guitarist/singer Bobby Baker is exploding with ideas, some just as likely to dissolve into a mud puddle of distortion as to reach sonic transcendence. But more often than not, the Baby Robots strike a remarkable balance between psychosis and eloquence. And that's something Boca Raton could use more often.

Best Male Rock Vocalist

Nice guys rarely finish first, especially nice guys with way-over-the-top baritones. But local legend John Cain Reilly is so serious about his art that he puts other frontmen to shame. From his mid-'90s days in Basketcase to his newest role leading ex-Marilyn Manson guitarist Scott Putesky's band (Three Ton Gate, née Stuck on Evil), Reilly uses his church-organ pipes to project a palpable aura of glorious Grand Guignol gloom. Suntanic, Stuck on Evil's 2001 release, vacillates between semi-shocking imagery and a cheeky, erotic/occult plateau; and Reilly is indisputably its focal point. From the core-breaching opener "Died of Me" to the chaotic/melodic Beatles cover ("I'm Only Sleeping") through the poetic (and formerly a capella) closer "Non-Photo Blues," Reilly is Fort Lauderdale's worship-worthy rock god.

Best Male Rock Vocalist

Nice guys rarely finish first, especially nice guys with way-over-the-top baritones. But local legend John Cain Reilly is so serious about his art that he puts other frontmen to shame. From his mid-'90s days in Basketcase to his newest role leading ex-Marilyn Manson guitarist Scott Putesky's band (Three Ton Gate, née Stuck on Evil), Reilly uses his church-organ pipes to project a palpable aura of glorious Grand Guignol gloom. Suntanic, Stuck on Evil's 2001 release, vacillates between semi-shocking imagery and a cheeky, erotic/occult plateau; and Reilly is indisputably its focal point. From the core-breaching opener "Died of Me" to the chaotic/melodic Beatles cover ("I'm Only Sleeping") through the poetic (and formerly a capella) closer "Non-Photo Blues," Reilly is Fort Lauderdale's worship-worthy rock god.

Best Concert of the Past 12 Months

There's nothing quite as thrilling as catching an up-and-coming young act on the threshold of a national French kiss, which is what audiences have witnessed over the past year with Boca Raton's Dashboard Confessional. And when these saviors of the emo set, led by diminutive, tattooed love god Chris Carrabba, brought the show home to Pompano Beach's now-defunct Millennium Club from a national tour this past December to the thunderous acclaim of a hometown crowd (who were just as proud as pleasured), it gave rise to feelings of validation and redemption, as well as more than one misty eye. Although he's been fortunate enough to chill with Conan O'Brien on the late-night talk-show circuit, sad-sack lyricist Carrabba hasn't yet exploited his hunky heartthrob status. When that happens, it's likely all over. We feel your pain, Chris. Glad your hard work is finally paying off.

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Best Film Festival: Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

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