You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


Released: Oct. 20

Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Critics have praised Alexander Payne’s film not only as one of the best American pics of the year, but as a sign of something far bigger. “Alexander Payne has single-handedly restored humanism as a force in American films,” writes Variety’s Todd McCarthy. With the deftness of such ’60s and ’70s Oscar faves as “The Graduate” and “The Last Picture Show,” Payne’s fourth feature film, written with screenwriting partner Jim Taylor, is a rarity among Hollywood’s formulaic romantic comedies. It’s as unsentimental as it is poignant.

Oscar nominees for their screenplay adaptation of “Election” (1999), Payne and Taylor mine Rex Pickett’s novel “Sideways” for its humorous account of two buddies on the road in wine country during midlife crises. The script’s skillful balance of wacky comedy and moving drama could get the duo acknowledged yet again.

“Sideways” also reaffirms Payne’s knack for drawing fabulous performances from his talent. While Payne’s 2002 entry “About Schmidt” drew acting noms for Academy favorites Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates, the cast of lesser-known stars in “Sideways” achieves an even greater potency, lacking the condescension for which Payne has been criticized in the past. Virginia Madsen and Thomas Hayden Church, two of the most inspired but obscure choices, are both earning early plaudits for their turns.

While not typical leading man material, Paul Giamatti brings a compassionate everyman reality to the role of lovable grouch Miles Raymond, a recently divorced failed novelist and occasional drunk. Like the film, his performance lacks the bombast and swagger of Oscar winners past, but Giamatti’s subtlety and deeply felt vulnerability could place him in the hotly contested best actor category this year. Giamatti was overlooked last year for his pitch-perfect role as Harvey Pekar in “American Splendor” — something Acad voters may want to make up for this time around.

If “Sideways” continues to build on its popular support — which, at this stage, seems even more enthusiastic than that behind last autumn’s indie darling “Lost in Translation” — a picture nom could be in the cards as well.

More Film

  • Black Panther Movie

    Oscars: 'Black Panther' Leads Best Picture Nominees to Near-Record Box Office Grosses

    This year’s Academy Award nominees proved the Oscars don’t need a popular film category to recognize movies with huge box office grosses. The 2019 crop of best picture hopefuls have generated an impressive $1.26 billion so far in North America alone. That bounty is led by “Black Panther,” which earned a sensational $700 million at [...]

  • oscar nominations 2019 stream online

    How to Watch This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Films

    The 2019 Oscar nominations have been announced, and if you want to catch up on the nominees, we’ve rounded up some easy ways to watch or stream the original films, documentaries, and songs competing for an award. Period comedy “The Favourite” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” lead the pack with 10 nominations apiece, while “Green Book” [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Makes History for Poland

    Alfonso Cuaron might’ve tied an Oscar record with four nods to his name for “Roma,” which scored 10 nominations overall. But another black-and-white film in a foreign language, Pawel Pawlikowski’s jazz-infused romantic drama “Cold War,” was honored with three Academy Award nominations Tuesday, the most in history for a primarily Polish-backed production. The film will [...]


    U.K. Cinema Attendance in 2018 Was Highest Since 1970

    Cinema attendance in the U.K. topped 177 million in 2018, the highest number since 1970. Box office held firm at £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) through the year as 10 movies crossed the £30 million threshold in the year. That compares with six films in 2017. After a sweltering summer in the U.K. and a strong [...]

  • ASIB Roma Black Panther

    Vote: Which Movie Should Win the Oscar for Best Picture?

    The 91st Oscar nominations were unveiled on Tuesday with “Roma” and “The Favourite” leading the way with 10 nods each. “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron’s love-letter to his childhood nanny, is Netflix’s first-ever best picture nomination and could make history as the first foreign-language movie to ever win the top prize at the Academy Awards. Other best [...]

  • Göteborg TV Drama Vision Expects 60

    TV Drama Vision Set to Take Pulse of Nordic Commissioners’ Wish List

    More than 360 international delegates are expected at Göteborg’s 13th Nordic TV Drama Vision (Jan. 30-31) described by head of industry Cia Edström as a ‘boutique event’, where top Nordic and international drama professionals gather each year to gauge the state of the Nordic market and hot content. For the first time, to comply with the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content