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January 15, 2009

Sundance, sunny side up


"What Just Happened," "Hamlet 2," "American Teen" and "Choke." Remember those flicks? Darlings of the Sundance Film Festival last year that sold for decent ducats and arrived in theaters thereafter with a resounding thud?

That was the unfortunate drill in '08. Crossover hits like "Little Miss Sunshine," "Napoleon Dynamite" and the art house grandaddy of them all, "sex, lies and videotape," sure seem like a long time ago. ("Little Miss Sunshine" won an Oscar for its original screenplay, and Steven Soderbergh was Academy Award-nominated for his "sex" script).

So it's Sundance again -- the 25th year of the event launches today in Park City, Utah -- and what to expect this go around?

THR says there are some smallish, as-yet unheralded (read: inexpensive) films that could end up causing a stir -- "Black Dynamite" sounds like fun, in a "Super Fly" parody kind of way  -- though the anticipated star-driven flicks could still, against the economic morass that indie film finds itself in right now, cause distributors to spend cold, hard cash.

Go here to keep up with THR's view of all things Sundance, here to see if the Carpetbagger can stop schmoozing long enough to make it to any movies this year, and here for SpoutBlog's walk down memory lane ("Sundance Stories of Yore") and reasons why journalists are staying away.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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