Those Excellent Sundance Portraits? Oh, Snap!

Star photos are funny. Period. Really, sometimes that's all you can say. Either everyone is way gussied-up/made-up/shoe'd-up to the nth degree at some pap-packed premiere, or they're buying a fat-free latte at some strip mall and looking disheveled and annoyed at having their photo snapped (we do get that).

But the portraits taken during the Sundance Film Festival? We adore them. They're formal-ish -- the backgrounds are always plain and muted -- and yet relaxed. The celebs show up unshaven, in cardigans or other snow-appropriate clothing, and they always look cool and happy and perfectly artsy. Sometimes they're alone, sometimes with a group of actors they're promoting a particular film alongside. But everyone always exudes that quality X.

What's the secret, or a secret, behind the great portraits? The photogs are top-notch, year after year. And maybe it is the whole atmosphere of the festival. Sure, it's a high-pressured, please-sign-my-movie-this-instant pot-boiler, but the whole thing is going down in a quaint mountain town, miles away from early call times and the day-to-day of LA. It definitely shows on the stars' faces, we think.

So while we skim the magazines and enjoy all the snapshots taken in various theaters and restaurants during the festivals, we seek out the portraits first, for their authentic but easygoing vibe.

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