343. Sideways

Movie: Sideways

Release Date: October 22, 2004

Director: Alexander Payne

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh.

Tag Lines: “In search of wine. In search of women. In search of themselves.”

Relevance: When ‘Sideways’ was released in theaters I wasn’t a huge wine consumer. Don’t get me wrong, I drank wine, but at that time I was more a beer and mixed drink fan. That all changed though in 2010 when I was diagnosed with a severe wheat allergy. I left the beer world and joined the wine bandwagon, and haven’t looked back since. With that being said, I still very much enjoyed the movie when I saw it in theaters in early 2005 after it was nominated for five Academy Awards.

‘Sideways’ was the independent darling that year and was critically praised especially for its screenplay and acting. I wholeheartedly concurred with that praise. I found it charming, funny, very poignant and, even at my then young age of 33, very relatable. There was something “human” about the story of two men in their 40’s going on a week long road trip in wine country that made sense to any age.

I revisited the film in 2013 about the time I was heading out to California for vacation. I was headed to “wine country” and thought it would be some entertaining research for the trip, even though I was going to Sonoma County and Napa Valley in northern California and the movie takes place about 7 hours south from there in Santa Ynez Valley. I was three years into my aforementioned wheat allergy and had accepted “wine” as my drink of choice. I was also 42 years old then and for me, like a good wine, ‘Sideways’ only got better with age.

Today’s Thoughts: Some wine, a lot of humor, some heart and a penis. What’s not to love about ‘Sideways?’ I even enjoyed watching it today sans wine.

When it comes to film, I enjoy all genres and styles, but a smart comedy with a stellar cast and screenplay has to rank up there with one of my favorites. That is what I loved about the movie in 2005, 2013 and 2020. It’s poignant, intelligent script has heart with many touching scenes, although for the first time in a few days, I did not cry. My Kleenex box actually caught a break! The scene where Paul Giamatti describes his favorite wine (and himself) is so clever and heart-warming. I love everything about it from the lighting to the words to the acting. The movie is also laugh-out-loud funny with great lines throughout. (“If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!”) Just watch the golfing scene or the scene where Thomas Haden Church’s character returns to his hotel room naked if you don’t believe me and need proof. Paul Giamatti’s laugh alone is worth the watch!

The cast is truly wonderful. Everyone is perfect in their roles. The fact that Paul Giamatti was completely snubbed for an Oscar nomination is an outrage, but it happens every once in awhile. (see 346. Ordinary People) He is equal parts funny, annoying, heartfelt and frustrating as the depressive, alcoholic writer. He plays it so real that the audience is on his side even if at times you groan at his actions or missteps. It is a gem of a comedic performance!

And not that it is very important, just fun to note, we get to see a penis again! That’s right, if you happen to be counting, this is the second time male full frontal nudity has shown up on my list. (See 357. Amadeus for the first!) And as I mentioned before, it’s nice to see it once in awhile on film, since the industry as a whole likes to hide it from view.

What I loved most about watching ‘Sideways’ this time around is reminiscing about my time I spent in wine country. I absolutely loved visiting that part of the country. The lifestyle and culture fit my personality and I would definitely love to visit again very soon. Maybe I’ll actually travel to the Santa Ynez Valley where the film is set. I could see myself moving west full time and becoming a Sommelier at a local winery. Ah, to dream. For now it’s just a fantasy, but one that can be “lived” every time I watch ‘Sideways.’

Awards: Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year (nomination), Academy Award for Best Achievement in Directing, Alexander Payne (nomination), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Thomas Haden Church (nomination), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Virginia Madsen (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director, Alexander Payne (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Comedy or Musical, Paul Giamatti (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Thomas Haden Church (nominatioon), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Virginia Madsen (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score, Rolfe Kent (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), Screen Actor Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (winner), Screen Actor Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Paul Giamatti (nomination), Screen Actor Guild Award for Outstanding Performance for a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Thomas Haden Church (nomination), Screen Actor Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Virginia Madsen (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor Thomas Haden Church (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Virginia Madsen (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Writer, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Alexander Payne (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, Paul Giamatti (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Composer, Rolfe Kent (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Alexander Payne (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Director, Alexander Payne (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for best Male Lead, Paul Giamatti (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, Thomas Haden Church (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female, Virginia Madsen (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Alexander Payne (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, Thomas Haden Church (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Virginia Madsen (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for best Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, Paul Giamatti (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Film of the Decade (10th Place) (2010), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, Thomas Haden Church (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, Thomas Haden Church (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, Virginia Madsen (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Director, Alexander Payne (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, Paul Giamatti (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, Paul Giamatti (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Virginia Madsen (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, thomas Haden Church (nomination), PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, Michael London (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Cinemax, DVD Availability.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s