By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 24, 2008 at 8:29AM
I confess to being fond of The Bagger (who has returned to his native habitat) because he writes so beautifully. It's ok if he doesn't accurately nail the Sundance sales zeitgeist. Leave that to the trades. Observing things so well is just fine.
UPDATE: Also doing a terrific job of covering Sundance are Andrew O'Hehir of Salon, Cinematical's Kim Voynar, Spout, GreenCine, the NY Post's Lou Lumenick, The Oregonian's Shawn Levy, EW, the LAT, Filmmaker, and Premiere's Glenn Kenny.
Over the past week at Sundance I neither got enough sleep nor saw nearly enough movies, as I kept track of the fitful rounds of fest buys and denials of buys--believe me, it takes just as much time. And I'm jealous that The Bagger got to see Patti Smith. (I'll have to hang on to my youthful memories of CBGB.) And I left before a dinner for the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young doc. Wonder who will show?
I too am back home, utterly fried, arms aching from ergonomically-incorrect computer-shackled overuse, but feeling grateful that I am not ill, like the hacking coughers on my late-night Southwest flight, as well as Sundance bloggers Jeff Wells and Mike Jones.
Of the dozen films I did see, here are the top five:
1. Trouble the Water-doc
2. Sunshine Cleaning-feature dramedy
3. Young@Heart-doc (at LAFF)
4. Gonzo: the Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson-doc
5. U2 3D- music doc
Enjoyable, but not great:
6. In Bruges-feature comedy
7. What Just Happened? -feature comedy
8. Savage Grace (Cannes)- feature drama
9. The Guitar (a guilty pleasure)-feature drama
10. CSNY Deja Vu -music doc
Not my cup of tea:
11. The Great Buck Howard-feature comedy
13. The Wackness - feature dramedy
14. Smart People - feature dramedy
Ones I wish I'd seen that had great fest buzz: The Polanski doc; big buy Hamlet 2, which looked like fun; Ballast, a breakthrough for director Lance Hammer; the German-language The Wave; Sugar, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden‚Äôs portrait of a Dominican baseball player; Birds of America, which one buyer compared to Junebug; the prison thriller The Escapist; Daniel Barnz's drama Phoebe in Wonderland; the Russian-language Mermaid; the erotic Spanish-language art film Mancora; the psychological thriller The Broken; the Iraq home-front drama American Son; the experimental Spanish-language sci-fi flick Sleep Dealer; the digital domestic drama Frozen River (which Sony Pictures Classics acquired Wednesday); and the docs Anvil and Stranded.
Next stop tomorrow: Santa Barbara, where I will report on my annual screenwriters' panel Saturday. Diablo Cody is expected.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]