Best Film Festival
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Film festivals are starting to make a comeback now that it's kinda OK to go outside again and see a movie in an actual theater. The Oak Cliff Film Festival run by the founders and operators of the Texas Theatre found a way to grow its annual celebration of cinema even under the weight of a pandemic. The 2021 edition of the Oak Clif Film Festival made a comeback from its digital version the previous year with an impressive roster of films that made their premiere in Texas. Some of the starring screenings included the Summer of Soul documentary directed by The Roots' Questlove, which recapped the musical and cultural influence of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival; Mogul Mowgli starring Academy Award nominee Riz Ahmed in his first performance since the inspiring Sound of Metal; and the hilarious and touching Swan Song that included a live appearance with legendary actor Udo Kier.

Gilley's Dallas

The For God & Country Patriot Roundup, a privately funded QAnon convention, was a treat for Facebook meme believers, conspiracy spreaders and anti-vaxxing virus carriers. The event attracted a veritable "What The Hell?" of speakers, among them Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who went on to say during his set that America needed its own Myanmar-style coup. The only bright spot in this gathering of gullibles was when Gilley's Dallas dropped them as a venue before the con was scheduled to start. They left the organizers scrambling to relocate the majority of their events in one location. It was not only a delightful moment of failure for the saner of us to enjoy, but the schadenfreude didn't require the event turning into a Sturgis-grade superspreader event (we hope).

Best Customers
Patrick Michels

One of the biggest losses of 2021 actually didn't have anything to do with the viral shutdown but it still stung just as hard. The Knox Street staple Wild About Harry's announced that it would close up shop because the building's owners wanted to put something in its place that would make the neighborhood look like every other gentrified restaurant district in the country. The 25-year-old establishment has served the tastiest custard treat in the city. Harry's final weekend let customers come in and empty the freezers and pantries during the July 4th weekend and the response was magnificent. People stood for hours in lines that lasted as long as the weekend itself to get one last taste of its signature iced treat.

One of the most beloved independent films in recent memory came from the unique perspective of a 23-year-old Dallas filmmaker. Cooper Raiff had hastily put together a 55-minute experimental project called Madeline & Cooper inspired by his own romantic relationship, which he sent to independent film titan Jay Duplass. So impressed with the young director's ambition, Duplass helped Raiff produce his directorial debut Shithouse, a coming-of-age dramedy that Raiff also starred in. Shithouse tells the story of Alex, an insecure college freshman who struggles to adjust after moving from his home in Dallas to California; he struggles to connect with friends and frequently calls home to his mother and younger sister. Alex gradually grows out of his shell after a magical night introduces romance into his lonely life. Earning comparisons to indie classics like Kicking and Screaming and Before Sunrise, Shithouse took home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature at the SXSW Film Festival.

Best Movie
Eric Zachanowich

Dallas director David Lowery can't be pinned to just one genre. After a romantic crime thriller (Ain't Them Bodies Saints), a meditative art film (A Ghost Story), a Disney live-action fairy tale (Pete's Dragon) and an old-fashioned caper (The Old Man and the Gun), Lowery delivered his best film to date with the epic R-rated Arthurian adventure The Green Knight. Dev Patel led the re-imaging as King Arthur's naive nephew Gawain, who embarks on a quest to find the titular Green Knight who threatens Camelot. The gorgeous medieval world is recreated in immaculate detail as Gawain grows into maturity over the course of his mission, facing giants, witches, seductive temptresses and bloodthirsty thieves. While it was shot in Ireland, Lowery teased that at least four shots were captured in his favorite city Dallas.

Best Actor
David Lee/Netflix

Virtually no one in Hollywood had a bigger year than Dallas actor Jonathan Majors. Majors kicked off his breakthrough with a performance in Spike Lee's acclaimed war epic Da 5 Bloods as the loving son of a Vietnam veteran who has turned to hatred. Majors followed that up with a lead role in the acclaimed science fiction horror series Lovecraft Country. While HBO pulled the plug on the series, he earned nominations at the Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Recently popping up as the enigmatic villain Kang the Conqueror in the season finale of the Disney+ series Loki, Majors will return to the Marvel universe in 2023's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania. He'll also show up later this year in the all-black action western The Harder They Fall alongside Regina King, Delroy Lindo and Idris Elba.

Best Actress
Gordon Correll

Breakout star Sasha Lane introduced herself to audiences back in 2017 in the award-winning indie drama American Honey, but she had a banner year thanks to several key high profile television projects. Lane showed up in a memorable guest role in an episode of Steven Spielberg's rebooted anthology series Amazing Stories as a troubled teenager who discovers inter-dimensional beings in her hometown. She later played one of the leads in the subversive comic book adaptation Utopia on Amazon Prime. Capping off her standout year with an entry into the Marvel Universe, Lane joined fellow Dallas actors Owen Wilson and Jonathan Majors in Loki. She's set to headline the adaptation of the bestselling Irish romance novel Conversations With Friends next year.

Uniting the Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who universes under one room, the Lewisville geek gathering was the place to be for North Texas comic book enthusiasts. Aimed at both casual readers and hard core collectors, the Dallas Comic Show inspired expressive Dallasites to show up in costume as their favorite characters. Featuring an eclectic group of signers, including famous Green Lantern writer Alex Saviuk and Spider-Man author Steven Butler, Dallas Comic Show was a welcome reminder of where the popularity of superhero movies originated. Thankfully, the family-friendly event opened the door for younger readers to participate as well.

Best Neighborhood for Street Art
Paige Stewart

Street art is everywhere you look throughout many of Dallas' trendy neighborhoods, but it didn't start that way. In the late '60s early '70s, street art, graffiti and murals began popping up in the urban landscapes of New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. It didn't hit Dallas until the late '80s and early '90s but was restricted to the hipster neighborhood of Deep Ellum. Now, this is no longer true and in Trinity Groves, The Design District and Bishop Arts you can find lots of great street art, and Bishop Arts has the best. All along Jefferson Boulevard, West Davis Street and Bishop Avenue, you will see Oak Cliff's wonderful art scene. There are two murals, one on Bishop Avenue of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, the Queen of Tejano music. Also, murals of two Oak Cliff icons, Yvonne Craig aka Adam West's Batgirl next to Emporium Pies and the OG rebel couple Bonnie and Clyde on Davis Street. There is a great black and white piece called "CACTEX" on West Davis Street as a tribute to the area's and Texas' Tex-Mex scene and culture. The Cultural Icon Graveyard is on Commerce Street and features famous Dallasites and Texans. If you just want to let people know where you are, head to Jefferson Boulevard to take a picture in front of the "Dallas, Where You At?" mural on the side of the Boost Mobile building. If you post to social media, don't forget to @ the artists, many of whom have their social media handler name on their work.

Best Museum
By Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The African American Museum of Dallas has one of the largest folk art collections in the nation. Since opening in 1974, the museum in Fair Park has explored the African-American experience and history through lectures, displays and exhibitions like Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth, which came to Dallas from the Smithsonian Institution for a stint at the museum. The exhibit profiled Black icons and the impact they have on the country's historical and cultural landscape. The African American Museum of Dallas houses more than 60 archival collections, 200 African artifacts and 150 paintings and sculptures.

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