Maybe there’s something about heavy but socially acceptable drinking that appeals to movie critics. Sideways, the comedy about two boozy bachelors touring California wine country, was the big winner on the awards list released Dec. 13 by the New York Film Critics Circle, winning Best Picture, Best Actor (Paul Giamatti), Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen) and Best Screenplay (Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor). The NYFCC echoed the choice of the Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco critics, and the New York Online Critics, all of whom had also named Sideways Best Picture, though the NYFCC was the only group not to give a Best Supporting Actor prize to the movie’s Thomas Haden Church. (It went to Closer’s Clive Owen instead.) Sideways also led the Golden Globes nominations on Monday morning, with seven nods, including Best Motion Picture Comedy.
The NYFCC also followed other critics’ groups in naming Vera Drake’s Imelda Staunton as Best Actress. It was the first group to name Clint Eastwood as Best Director, for Million Dollar Baby. Fahrenheit 9/11 won Best Non-Fiction Film. Best Animated Film was The Incredibles. Pedro Almodóvar’s Bad Education was named Best Foreign Film. Christopher Doyle, who shot Zhang Yimou’s martial arts epic Hero, picked up his second citation so far for Best Cinematography. Writer-director Joshua Marston’s drug-smuggling drama Maria Full of Grace was named Best First Film. Winners will pick up their prizes at an awards dinner on Jan. 9.