We came, we saw, it kicked our ass. The 25th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival brought us many memorable moments, buzzed-about films and a really lame fist fight between a film critic and, um, The Dude? Counting down the 20 hottest of Sundance 2009 for Cinematical are our fantastic festival contributors: James Rocchi, Scott Weinberg, Eric D. Snider and Erik Davis. Check it out below and let us know what we missed ...

Hottest of Sundance 2009

    1. The Recession
    From the downsized parties to the sparser crowds, from the depopulated press corps to the presence of B-list soda Shasta as a sponsor, the economic recession was visible all over Park City this year. The big studios weren't buying as many films, either. What if the next "Napoleon Dynamite" got overlooked?? EDS

    Wes Clark

    2. 500 Days of Summer
    I love, love, love this movie. Those who trash it shall feel my wrath. And my wrath doesn't feel good. Pitch-perfect humor, honest romance, two great performances, solid tunes, and a delivery that reminds me of good ol' Annie Hall. [Read our review] SW

    Fox Searchlight

    3. The Girlfriend Experience
    The Tuesday "Sneak Preview" on the schedule at the Eccles Theater at Sundance this year turned out to be Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience -- the director's new shot-on-video look at work and sex and sex work in 2008 New York on the eve of the election. The preview wasn't just a nice way for the Festival to look back to its past (Soderbergh's 1989 sex, lies and videotape was brought up during the 2008 Festival the same way Reagan comes up at Republican conventions, and for the same reasons; it represents the shiny, never-was yesterday that today has to compare itself with) but also as a nod to the future. [Read our review] JR

    Sasha Grey

    4. Twitter
    New technology always influences the way Sundance is covered, and this year's hot new toy was Twitter. For the first time, bloggers gave their followers updates every step of the way: What movie they were in line for, and what they thought of it when it was over. Because no one should have to wait until tomorrow to hear The Informers sucked. EDS


    5. Film Critic Fist Fight
    The event with the most buzz wasn't some fancy film premiere or hoppin' after party – it was, instead, an actual fist fight between Variety reporter John Anderson and Jeff "The Dude" Dowd, a producer's rep on the film Dirt! And all of it was over ... a bad review? [Read more about it here] ED

    Lebowski Opinion

    6. Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire
    Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire had the makings of an exploitative trainwreck: an obese, illiterate Harlem teenager who's pregnant. For the second time. By her father. But director Lee Daniels handles the material sensitively, and the raw lead performance by new-comer Gabourey Sidibe makes it an unforgettable story about rising above adversity. [Read our review] EDS

    Sundance Film Festival

    7. Humpday
    Lynn Shelton's improvised, shot-on-DV comedy about two old friends who slide back into each other's life -- one a married, stable homebody (Mark Duplass), the other continuing a constant set of global travels that never seem to go anywhere (Joshua Leonard) -- and, out of a weird mix of inarticulate affection, sexual gamesmanship and friendly foolishness agree to have sex on film for an art project. The setup sounds wacky-with-a-capital-W, but Shelton and her cast aren't interested in big, fake jokes; they're interested in small-scale, real humanity. [Read our review] JR

    Sundance Film Festival

    8. Carey Mulligan
    Though you may not know her name now, Carey Mulligan swept into Sundance with two films (The Greatest, An Education) and left not only with new representation, but also with the words "Star in the Making" tattooed across her forehead. A brilliant British version of Katie Holmes, Mulligan will definitely "arrive" in 2009. Watch for her. ED

    Sundance Film Festival

    9. Trashing The Informers
    The press folks WANTED to dig this one, but man it was funny hearing them hate it so loudly. Aside from Amber Heard's nakedness, there's nothing about this "bored, hateful rich kids" tale we haven't yawned through before. [Read our review] SW

    Sundance Film Festival

    10. Pregnancies
    Pregnancies and parenthood were major themes this year. Grace showed a mother who would literally do anything for her baby; Push was the harrowing story of a teenage mother; Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan mourned their dead son in The Greatest; and so did Robin Williams in World's Greatest Dad. Family values, folks. EDS

    The Greatest, Sundance