Lying in bed tucked under a down comforter, I'm popping Motrin like they're delicious pieces of Pez. Bloodshot and tired, my eyes sting and my fuzzy head quietly throbs as I review my first trip to glamorous Sundance. Throngs of bundled up celebrities, the luxury gifting suites, the V.I.P. parties, the piercing cold, the snow, the ski slopes. With celebs on icy Main Street fueling up on coffee, sandwiches, swag and more (they ARE just like us!), my sightings list for the long weekend included Woody Harrelson (blue hat, green scarf), Kirsten Dunst (coffee cup in hand), Adrian Grenier (unbelievably, prettier in person), Patricia Clarkson (dining at Mama's Tacos), Ryan Gosling (swoon alert!), Mena Suvari (sporting a new cropped 'do), Diego Luna (double swoon), Quentin Tarantino (Starbucks), Marcia Gay Harden (eh), SJP and Matthew Brodderick (arm in arm), Thomas Hayden Church (in cowboy boots), a trim Dennis Quaid, The Olsens (together and entering a carb-laden sandwich shop! Kevin Scorbo (Every. Where. I. Went.). Then there were—oh yeah!—the movies. Here's my hit list.
The Good: The wining rom-com Smart People should pack theaters this April. Also look out for The Wackness (let the '90s nostalgia begin!), where pot dealer Josh Peck and his shrink Ben Kingsley form an unusual (and sometimes unbelievable) friendship in NYC during the heat wave of 1994—the film won the Audience Award. Quadruple threat (writer, producer, director, thespian) Marianna Palka's winsome debut Good Dick almost made me think differently about porn. Also good was Sunshine Cleaning, a dramedy starring it-girls Amy Adams and Emily Blunt (rumor had it Fox Searchlight would buy it based on the "sunshine" in the title alone, to mimic its goldmine Little Miss Sunshine), and Gonzo, a long but immersing look at the wild-and-crazy times of Hunter S. Thompson.
The Buzziest: The Sam Rockwell-helmed Choke was one of the first movies to find a buyer by midweek, as did Luke Wilson's Bucket List-y Henry Poole is Here; Anvil! The Story of Anvil, a rock doc on Canada's hardest working metal band left audiences screaming for an encore; the star-studded Hamlet 2 won the festival's heftiest price tag, a whopping $10 million, which set a record. But the brilliance of Ballast, a Mississippi Delta drama with an unknown cast, was the one thing everyone agreed on.
The Heartbreakingly Eerie: Incendiary. Michelle Williams's tour-de-force role as a grieving young mother who loses her four-year-old son and husband in a London terrorist attack became all too real when Heath Ledger died just a day after this well-received press screening.
The What Would Dad Do?: Colin Hanks and Jason Ritter starred in the battle of the Celebrity Offspring this Sundance. While Hanks Jr. is amiable enough, he just doesn't have his pop's chops (the two short scenes Hanks Sr. and Hanks Jr. shared in the all-too-earnest The Great Buck Howard mercilessly proved that), while Jason Ritter, son of the late, great John, is infinitely more believable and likeable—even when he's playing a slacker video store clerk that obsessively stalks a female (and frequent porn-loving) customer in the oddly captivating Good Dick. Go figure.
The Bad: Phoebe in Wonderland. I've read reviews of people loving this admittedly pretty look at an imaginative, troubled child's OCD obsession with wonderland (starring the latest Fanning, Dakota's little sis, Elle). An hour into staring at mom Felicity Huffman's distractingly unattractive brunette wig, I wanted to shout, "Off with her head!" But my lack of love for this movie may all come down to the Fanning clan: I can't sleep knowing that somewhere out there the Fanning Factory is churning out more of the saucer-eyed, goldy-locked, weirdly articulate little robots.