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Best Of 2006

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

BEST FILM

In the course of teaching a 35mm production class for his Catholic home-school co-op(!), Marine St. Croix-based provocateur Jon Springer conjured this, a gorgeously atmospheric silent-film adaptation of Hansel and Gretel. (The film premiered in November at the inaugural "Fearless Filmmakers" screening at the Riverview, then played at the Bryant-Lake Bowl in March as part of IFP's "Cinema Lounge.") Abandoned by their "godless parents," a girl (Karina Poyerd) and her young brother (Springer's son Michael) discover a toad that has escaped from a haunted forest. Fearing the Witch might cast a spell on them, they decide to return the toad—but this only incites the Witch's covetous nature. While the director who used the zombie genre to tell of Christ's second coming ("Living Dead Girl") and an Orwellian dystopia to contemplate the position of straight men in society ("Heterosapiens") doesn't assign an obvious symbolic meaning to the wicked witch (is it TV?), the moral here is that parents should not only watch their children, but take responsibility for forming the kids' minds and characters. Which is precisely what Springer is doing "The Wood Witch": lovingly guiding his son through an impeccable first performance.

BEST ACTOR (FEMALE)

Her work can run the gamut from manic to imperious and from opaque to exposed—often in the same scene—and her name on a playbill in 2005 usually guaranteed the prospect of a fresh and unique performance. Early in the year, she played Dionyza in the weird Pericles at the Guthrie Lab, at times striking with regal beauty, at other times with absurdity. She didn't manage to single-handedly salvage His Girl Friday at the Guthrie later in the year, but her Mollie Molloy was a standout in a meandering show. In David Mann's Godfather-meets-Shakespeare Fringe epic Corleone, she brought her tragicomedy chops to the character of WASPy Kay. Finally she starred in the title role of Antigone for Ten Thousand Things, and, stripped of her comedic powers, came through with a moving and deep take on Antigone's tragic pig-headedness. We think she should land a role on SNL—while still doing serious stuff on the side, of course.

BEST ACTOR (MALE)

No one stalked the indie stage with more éclat in 2005 than Bob Malos, who utilized his imposing frame and sonorous voice to provide characters who were tortured by their own greatness and dogged by the Reaper's impending embrace. In May he starred as Capt. Larsen in Hardcover Theater's adaptation of Jack London's The Sea Wolf, and captured a scary sense of nihilistic menace and intellectual savagery that shivered numerous timbers in the audience. Come July he stalked the stage in Girl Friday Productions' excellent An Empty Plate at the Café du Grand Boeuf, mixing humor and despair in his portrayal of a wealthy, death-obsessed cynic. Then a month later, he appeared in the Fringe as doomed James Garfield in The President, Once Removed. In all three performances, Malos radiated a sense of bittersweet awareness combined with a thoughtful recognition of his characters' power and the different ways it could be applied. At times humanitarian and at others downright Nietzschean (not that there's an inherent dichotomy), Malos delivers dark clouds interspersed with dingy sunlight.

BEST AM RADIO PERSONALITY

Does anyone even know when T.D. Mischke is on the air anymore? The geniuses running KSTP-AM (1500) have twice shifted his time slot in the last three years, first to late nights and now to drive time. The 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. shift is an odd fit for Mischke's strange, hilarious, truth-bending monologues. After all, during the evening commute, most people are looking for accurate information about weather, traffic, and the day's news headlines. Plus, the drunken callers who've always been a staple of Mischke's show aren't nearly as entertaining in the daylight hours: They're just kind of sad. But Mischke's such a peculiar genius that we're willing to adjust. His rambling tirades against modern technology, encounters with regular callers such as Undertaker Fred, and bastardized news reports are superbly entertaining at any time of day. Plus now we get the added bonus of listening to Mischke antagonize traffic reporter Kenny Olsen on a daily basis.

BEST AREA PREMIERE

Mixed Blood's production of Richard Greenberg's baseball drama Take Me Out saw Darren Lemming (Lindsay Smiling), a rich, arrogant, and handsome young baseball pro, declare his homosexuality to the world. Amid the controversy, his team sank in the standings; then backwoods pitcher Shane Mungitt (Zach Curtis) turned the tide—or would have, were it not for a John Rocker moment on live TV that revealed his extensive knowledge of disparaging epithets and his casual willingness to use them. Smiling played the pro athlete as icily uninterested in the affairs of mortals and indifferent to their perception of him—until a semi-friendship with his accountant Mason (Edward Williams Jr.) compels him to break out a convincingly limited degree of warmth. Under Stan Wojewodski's direction, Take Me Out depicted sports and modern life with depth and cynicism, teasing out the humdrum truths and diffused sense of hollowness throughout the world it portrayed.

BEST ART CINEMA
Oak Street Cinema

Oak Street: 1995-2006. R.I.P.

309 Oak St. S.E., Minneapolis, 55414
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612-331-3134
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BEST FILM: Hansel and Gretel

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