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Best, worst of this year’s Sundance

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PARK CITY — Ah, Sundance! Where else can you see well-respected film critics shoving patrons out of the way so they can get to their theater seats?

Such bad-boy behavior was all the rage at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

But the best running feud in Park City this year was between the makers of "Snow Monsters" and the city's "corporate compliance bureau," which tried to keep the filmmakers from crashing Sundance events. (In a happy development, they were able to park their "Snow Monsters Express" RV and the "Tigercar" in a business parking lot, in clear sight of at least one Sundance screening venue.)

Some other impressions of this year's hoo-hah:

Best Big-Hyped Movie: "The Laramie Project," touching and effective in spite of distracting celebrity cameos.

Most Disappointing Big-Hyped Movie: The "Project Greenlight" winner "Stolen Summer." Well-acted, but the script is pretty cliched and obvious.

Best Little-Hyped Movie: Austin Chick's "xx/xy," refreshingly honest in its depiction of sexual stereotypes.

Worst Thematic Trend: Younger men having affairs with older married women, featured in "Tadpole," "The Good Girl" and "Rain."

Best Performance: Philip Seymour Hoffman, devastating as a grieving widower who turns to substance abuse for solace in "Love Liza."

Best Performance by a "Friend": Jennifer Aniston, who shows surprising range as the title character in "The Good Girl."

Worst Performance by a "Friend": Lisa Kudrow, painfully unfunny in a supporting turn in "Bark!"

Best Performance by a Sundance Organizer: Sundance co-director Nicole Guillemet, who kept the festival humming this year with less time to prepare and less funding than previous years.

Worst Fashion No-No (for Women): Faux fur (at least they weren't sporting real fur).

Worst Fashion No-No (for Men): Ponytails, which many, um, folliclely challenged Sundance attendees seemed to be sporting.

Worst Technological Development: The festival's On-Line Film Guide, which was the only way to find out what was playing (many Sundancegoers didn't have the software or the time to download schedules).

Best Technological Development: Flux Network's software, which gave attendees a way to download the On-Line Film Guide to personal digital assistants and let them watch the festival's online shorts.

Best Sign: "Buzz for sale. $20 per hype." It was on the Tower Theatre marquee during the entire film festival run.

Best Irony: The Slamdance 2002 screening of Robert Redford's "Downhill Racer" as its Surprise Closing Night Feature — something of a dig at the Sundance guru.

Worst Irony: Moviegoers loudly discussing the clever "Shh!" promos shown before each festival screening.

Best Meteorological Phenomenon: The somewhat balmy (for winter, at least) 40-degree temperatures during the day in Park City for at least half of the festival.

Worst Meteorological Phenomenon: The distinctly L.A.-like smog hanging around both the Salt Lake City and Park City areas.

Biggest Meteorological Exaggeration: Both L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan and E Online columnist Anderson Jones claiming in their pre-Sundance stories that Park City was nearly snowed in.

QUOTE OF THE FESTIVAL: "It was a little less than 'Lord of the Rings.' " — Director Miguel Arteta, answering a question about the budget of his film, "The Good Girl."


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com