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Sideways tops the pile for New York critics



Story by: Jack Foley

SIDEWAYS is rapidly emerging as the film to beat this awards season, having been named best picture of 2004 by the New York Critics' Circle.

Alexander Payne's quirky comedy, starring Paul Giamatti, already leads the field in terms of Golden Globe nominations, and was also named best film of 2004 by critics in Los Angeles.

But Sideays also picked up a best actor award for Giamatti, best supporting actress for co-star, Virginia Madsen, and best screenplay, for Payne (an award which he shared with co-writer, Jim Taylor).

The film is a nicely-played road movie about two men who take a road trip together through California's wine region on the week before one is to get married. Needless to say, comic capers abound, as the two make important self discoveries and become romantically entangled with two women.

It already looks set to become of the best films of 2005 in the UK, and was among the best reviewed in America following its late release this year.

The New York Critics' Circle also recognised British talent in their round-up of awards.

Clive Owen was named best supporting actor for his performance in Closer (Mike Nichols' sexually frank relationship potboiler), and Imelda Staunton was named best actress for Vera Drake - enhancing her Oscar chances, following wins at Venice, LA and Europe.

Clint Eastwood was named best director for his latest movie, Million Dollar Baby, a boxing drama co-starring Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, and Michael Moore's Cannes-winner, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Pixar's The Incredibles, took the non-fiction and animated prizes.

Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education was named best foreign film (having missed out at the European Film Awards) and the best first film was named as Joshua Marston's Maria: Full of Grace, which was one of the audience favourites at this year's London Film Festival.

A special award was also presented to Milestone Films, in honour of 15 years of restoring classic films.

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