Best Independent Movie Theater
West End Cinema
Over the years, D.C. has become a movie house graveyard, a town where the beloved theaters of yesteryear have degenerated into marquee pharmacies and storefront churches. Because of this, the opening of the West End Cinema in 2010—itself a resurrection of the old Inner Circle Theater—was a reason to celebrate: a new, small cinema committed to independent film. To be fair, the area has its fair share of great theaters. The AFI Silver’s repertoire showcases are unimpeachable, and E Street’s midnight movies have made it a haven for trash-loving misanthropes. Yet when it comes to first-run features, both theaters are strikingly conservative, showing mostly big-budget indies from slumming Hollywood types. West End has nicely bucked this trend. This year, it’s expanded beyond its established niche of documentaries and foreign films with second-run mainstream fare like Drive and Moneyball. Thanks to programming that feels adventurous and selective, the next generation of cinephiles may very well one day recall West End fondly as the place they enjoyed their first von Trier or Herzog.