The Chicago Film Critics and the Southeastern Film Critics Association both added on Monday to the near-unanimous consensus among critics’ groups that the best movie of 2004 is Sideways. Both groups gave the wine-country comedy five prizes, including Best Picture. The Windy City reviewers also cited the film for Best Actor (Paul Giamatti), Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church), Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen), and Best Screenplay (Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor). SEFCA, which consists of critics representing nine states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia), also honored Church, Madsen, and Payne and Taylor for Best Adapted Screenplay. (The group gave a prize for Best Original Screenplay to Charlie Kaufman for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) SEFCA also named Payne the Best Director, while Chicago gave that honor to Million Dollar Baby’s Clint Eastwood.
For SEFCA, Giamatti was runner-up to Ray’s Jamie Foxx for Best Actor. Chicago’s Best Actress was Vera Drake’s Imelda Staunton, while SEFCA named Being Julia’s Annette Bening. Both groups named Fahrenheit 9/11 the year’s Best Documentary. Foreign Film kudos went to A Very Long Engagement (Chicago) and Maria Full of Grace (SEFCA). Chicago also gave two citations to The Aviator, for Best Score (composer Howard Shore) and Best Cinematography (Robert Richardson tied with Christopher Doyle, who shot the martial arts epic Hero). Windy City winners can pick up their prizes at a ceremony in April.