N.Y. critics look 'Sideways' too

Times Staff Writer

"Sideways" continues its winning ways.

Not only did Alexander Payne's offbeat buddy comedy set in the Santa Barbara wine country dominate the Golden Globe nominations Monday, "Sideways" was also was chosen as best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle.

The independent production also won the best actor award Monday for Paul Giamatti, supporting actress for Virginia Madsen and screenplay for Payne and Jim Taylor.

Over the weekend, "Sideways" won five awards from the Los Angeles Critics Assn., including best picture, and was singled out by the AFI Awards 2004 as one of the 10 best films of the year.

The 34-member organization that consists of critics from daily and weekly New York newspapers and magazines also echoed the L.A. film critics in its choice for best actress. Imelda Staunton took the top actress honors for her performance as a working-class abortionist in 1950s England in Mike Leigh's "Vera Drake."

Clint Eastwood was chosen best director for his boxing drama "Million Dollar Baby," and Clive Owen was singled out for supporting actor for the adult drama "Closer."

The New York Critics Circle, which began in 1935, has rarely seen eye to eye with the Academy Awards.

The only time they have agreed in the last decade was last year for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

Other winners named Monday: animated film, "The Incredibles"; cinematography, Christopher Doyle, "Hero"; best foreign film, "Bad Education"; best nonfiction film, "Fahrenheit 9/11"; and best first film, "Maria Full of Grace." Special award was given to Milestone Films in honor of 25 years of restoring classics.

The awards will be presented at a dinner Jan. 9 in Manhattan.

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