Best Movie Theater (2000)

Angelika Film Center and Cafe

Sometime in the '60s, the moviegoing experience suffered a serious blow: Chain operators built small, shoe-boxlike theaters where people were shooed in and out with all the ceremony of cattle herding. In recent years, chains have started building megaplexes with stadium seating and large screens. But the cheap materials, gaudy colors and boxy constructions still bespeak corporations more interested in moving tickets than leaving moviegoers genuinely moved by their surroundings. The Angelika, by contrast, understands that moviegoing is a sensual experience and that it deserves a building to complement it. This film center in downtown's Bayou Place is tastefully constructed and appointed: The foyer is a grand high-ceilinged waiting area with a light color scheme, a chandelier and oversize French liquor advertisements, à la Toulouse-Lautrec. To the left is a casual and subtly elegant cafe serving adventurous appetizers and sandwiches, and to the right is the hallway to the theaters, which come equipped with all the stadium comforts found in those megaplexes. The Angelika books a smart balance of mainstream Hollywood pictures and independent films, hip enough for inner-city cineasts and broad enough for their suburban friends. And unlike those Outer Loop gigaplexes, the Angelika doesn't dump you into an ugly, sprawling parking lot. Instead, it guides you right back into the heart of downtown, with even more entertainment options for the taking.


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