By Indiewire | Indiewire December 14, 2004 at 2:00AM
With NY Critics Prizes and Golden Globe Nominations, "Sideways" Dominates Year-End Awards Season
by Eugene Hernandez
Six weeks from today the nominations for the 77th Academy Awards will be announced and the race now has a clear front-runner, Alexander Payne's "Sideways" from Fox Searchlight. The film, a Toronto International Film Festival debut that was also showcased at the New York Film Festival this fall, has dominated critic's group's lists in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and San Francisco, and yesterday was the top nominee for the 62nd Golden Globe Awards.
"I think 'Sideways" is a terrific movie," NY Film Critics Circle chair Thelma Adams, film critic for US Weekly, told indieWIRE after the voting. "We voted our hearts, we voted for a movie that we thought was really terrific - I think this a really strong movie (it is an) interesting, funny, lively indie move that strikes a chord."
"Sideways" was honored with four prizes from the New York Film Critics Circle, the oldest critics group in this country. It won best picture, best screenplay for Payne and Jim Taylor, best actor for Paul Giamatti, and best supporting actress for Virginia Madsen. Also yesterday, the film was nominated for a leading seven Golden Globe Award nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of international reporters based in Los Angeles. "Sideways" was nominated for Golden Globes for best motion picture - musical or comedy, best director for Payne, best actor in a motion picture - musical or comedy for Giamatti, best supporting actor for Thomas Haden Church, best supporting actress for Virginia Madsen, best screenplay for Payne and Taylor, and best original score for Rolfe Kent.
Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded "Sideways" five awards, including best picture, director, screenplay, and supporting actor and actress, while in Massachusetts, the Boston Society of Film Critics gave the movie four awards, including best picture, best screenplay, supporting actor and an award for the entire cast. The San Francisco Film Critics Circle awarded the film, set in California, a total of six awards, including best picture, director, script, actor, supporting actor and supporting actress. The film recently won the top prize at the Gotham Awards and led the Independent Spirit Award nominations.
In other prizes, the New York critics honored Pedro Almodóvar's "Bad Education" with the award for best foreign film. The Sony Pictures Classics release, not eligible for an Oscar in the foreign-language category because it was not selected by Spain, was in the spotlight at the 2004 New York Film Festival, with Almodovar honored with a special tribute.
Imelda Staunton, another New York Film Festival title, was honored with a best actress award, correlating with a number of other critic's honors and a Golden Globe nomination in the drama-acting category. She stars in Mike Leigh's latest, "Vera Drake" from Fine Line Features.
Joshua Marston's "Maria Full of Grace," from HBO Films and Fine Line, was awarded the best first film award from the New York critics. The film has been a leading contender among film critics and others. The Los Angeles critics honored Marston and film star Catalina Sandino Moreno with the New Generation prize, while the film also won two prizes at the Gotham Awards and was a big nominee for the Independent Spirit Awards.
Clint Eastwood won the directing award in New York for "Million Dollar Baby"; his film was the runner-up for the top award in Los Angeles, and a Golden Globe nominee in the same category (alongside Marc Forster for "Finding Neverland," Mike Nichols for "Closer," Martin Scorsese for "The Aviator," and Alexander Payne). Clive Owen from "Closer" was the best supporting actor prizewinner in New York and the actor was also nominated in the same category at the Golden Globes.
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" won the best non-fiction prize from the New York Film Critics Circle, while the film was the runner-up to winner "Born Into Brothels" in Los Angeles. While the Golden Globes lack a doc category, "Control Room" won the doc prize in Boston and "Fahrenheit" won in San Francisco."
Another major Golden Globe nominee is Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator. The film was nominated for six awards, including best picture - drama, best director for Scorsese, best actor - drama for Leonardo DiCaprio, best supporting actress for Cate Blanchett, best screenplay for John Logan, and best score for Howard Shore. In the Golden Globes race with five nominations were Mike Nichols' "Closer" from Sony, Marc Forster's "Finding Neverland" from Miramax, and Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" from Warner Bros, while Focus Features' release of Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" nabbed four nominations.
Talking further with indieWIRE on Monday, Thelma Adams from the NYFCC noted that there were a number of contenders for awards from the group, singling out such titles as "Hotel Rwanda," "Kinsey" and "Eternal Sunshine." She added, "There were great movies that came up and were mentioned today, but not everybody can win." Referring specifically to "Eternal Sunshine," a movie that Adams personally loves and one that was incorrectly listed as the winner in the screenplay category for a few hours on the group's website, Adams said, "As with any really provocative work of art, it divides people. Therefore it is harder for it to get awards."
Get the latest on awards season on indieWIRE's Awards Watch blog, which is updated anytime with awards news and links to other articles.