Best Indie Movie Theater
Edwards University Town Center 6
4245 Campus Dr., Irvine
Even if you're not a college student, this theater will make you feel like you are, with its informal bulletin boards, unframed posters hanging from the balcony, and tables and chairs where you can polish off the last of your "outside" food (it's forbidden in the auditoriums, but okay in the lobby). But the low-key charms belie the quality of the theaters themselves, which are every bit as nice as the newest multiplexes and may be the best bet in town if you happen to be in a wheelchair—several seats have been removed to create appropriate spaces and/or extra legroom if no handicapped folks show up. Restrooms are clean and well-stocked (we've seen so-called "luxury" 12-plexes that fail to provide in this crucial area), and you gotta love the special $6 Tuesday-night screenings of crowd-pleasers ranging from Ben Hurto The Goonies.
Best Place to Meet a Film Major
The Friday Film Forum
Long Beach School for Adults
3701 E. Willow St., Long Beach
Orange County resident Ray Sharp has been hosting a Friday Film Forum at the Long Beach School for Adults for 12 years now. Together with teammates Max Fraley, Rob Ray and Randy Skretvedt, Sharp hosts a weekly screening and postfilm discussion that draws from some of the more obscure corners of American cinema. For the cost of a dollar, cineastes can enjoy the generally esoteric feature selections of the Film Forum programmers, along with a smattering of shorts, cartoons and whatever else these cinematic archaeologists have dug up. While most local film programs focus on well-known classics, Sharp frequently finds movies that would be new discoveries for even the most ardent film fans. Following the screenings, the Friday Film Forum leads a discussion so you can express exactly how you felt about the film as loudly as you wish. In this age of faceless Internet interaction, isn't that a nice thought?