READERS' PICK: A movie at El Con 20 may set you back nearly eight bucks, but the price is worth the benefit bestowed on movie fans by one of the most important advances ever in film-watching technology: the movie scoreboard. Behold the mighty digital display above the box office, glowing red and flashing like a beacon or warning that hundreds of other citizens have the same movie plans you do. Fear not the "sold out" sign, though, since 19 other screens provide darkened, popcorn-fueled solace. After decrying the concession prices (delightfully discounted during the theater's honeymoon period), settle into the comfortable chairs and marvel at the still-sharp screens and serious sound systems.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. One of only two independently owned, hardtop theatres in Tucson (The Screening Room being the other, and the De Anza Drive-In our one outdoor alternative), The Loft offers a multitude of pleasures not to be found at the monster-plexes. In addition to hosting one cavernous main floor theatre (with a smaller box theater upstairs), this art house screens an impressive variety of American and foreign indie films (lower-budget and/or unrated), maintains an excellent track record for a screaming-baby-free environment, employs real live projectionists (rather than computers) and boasts the largest screen in the state of Arizona. The Loft also provides opportunities to see works by corporate-unfriendly favorites like Todd Haynes, Allison Anders and David Cronenberg, as well as late-night screenings like the regular Rocky Horror Picture Show.