December 13th, 2004 by SFFCC

The soulful comedy “Sideways” has won a record six awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

The film stars Paul Giamatti as Miles, a romantically challenged, middle-aged wine snob who can’t afford his rent, let alone his penchant for fine pinot noir. He takes his soon-to-be-married best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) for a bachelor-party week of wine tasting and golf in the Santa Ynez Valley. But unbeknownst to Miles, Jack’s goals for the week include more than wine tasting and golf. He’s not quite ready to put his playboy past behind him and he’d like to re-introduce Miles, miserable since his divorce two years earlier, to the possibility of love.

In a vote late last week, Paul Giamatti (“American Splendor”) received the award for Best Actor, while Thomas Haden Church, a television sitcom actor making the transition to film, won Best Supporting Actor. Their co-star, Virginia Madsen, who plays the waitress Miles falls for, won Best Supporting Actress. In addition to the Best Director award, Alexander Payne shared the honor for Best Screenplay with his co-writer Jim Taylor, who also collaborated with him on his three earlier films, “About Schmidt,” “Election” and “Citizen Ruth.”

The SFFCC gave its Best Actress award to Julie Delpy for her work in Richard Linklater’s film in real time, “Before Sunset,” in which she and Ethan Hawke reprised the roles they played in Linklater’s 1995 cult romance, “Before Sunrise.”

Michael Moore’s lambasting of President George W. Bush, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” won the award for Best Documentary. “Maria Full of Grace,” a tale of a South American teenager who becomes a drug mule, won Best Foreign Language Film.

The group gave its Marlon Riggs Award, awarded annually to a member of the Bay Area film community for courage and innovation, to Anita Monga, former programmer of the Castro Theater, in recognition of her 16 years of passion and dedication to bringing the best of alternative, foreign and classic cinema to Bay Area audiences. A programmer extraordinaire, she made the Castro what it was.

Best Picture

Best Director
Alexander Payne for “Sideways”

Best Actor
Paul Giamatti for “Sideways”

Best Actress
Julie Delpy for “Before Sunset”

Best Supporting Actor
Thomas Haden Church for “Sideways”

Best Supporting Actress
Virginia Madsen for “Sideways”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Maria Full of Grace”

Best Documentary
“Fahrenheit 9/11”

Marlon Riggs Award for courage & vision in the Bay Area film community
Anita Monga, former programmer for the Castro Theatre

Founded in 2002, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle (http://www.sffcc.org) is comprised of critics from Bay Area publications. Its members include film writers from the Bay Guardian, the Contra Costa
Times, culturevulture.net, the East Bay Express, KGO Radio, KRON-TV, “J,” the Marin Independent Journal, Oakland Tribune, the Palo Alto Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Jose Metro, SPLICEDwire.

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