Alt Film Guide
Classic movies. Gay movies. International cinema. Socially conscious & political cinema.
Home Movie AwardsCritics' Awards | National Board of Review New York Film Critics Awards: California-Set Road Movie Is the Big Winner

New York Film Critics Awards: California-Set Road Movie Is the Big Winner

Sideways Thomas Haden Church Paul Giamatti New York winnerSideways with Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti: Alexander Payne’s California-set road movie was the New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Film of the year.

New York Film Critics Awards: Alexander Payne’s Southern California-set road movie Sideways tops four categories, including Best Film

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

The New York Film Critics Circle has announced its top selections of 2004. Somewhat surprisingly, there were a number of similarities to the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s list released a couple of days ago, including Best Film. (Since 1980, New York and Los Angeles have agreed on only seven Best Film choices.)

The story of two middle-aged friends (Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church) who spend their time drinking, making love, and getting in trouble while traveling through the vineyards of Southern California’s Santa Ynez Valley, Alexander Payne’s crowd-pleasing road movie Sideways topped four categories: Best Film, Best Actor (Giamatti; the runner-up in Los Angeles), Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen, cast as Giamatti’s serene romantic interest), and Screenplay (Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, adapting Rex Pickett’s novel that came out earlier this year).

Both Madsen and the Sideways screenplay also won in Los Angeles, along with “supporting” (actually co-lead) actor Thomas Haden Church and director Payne.

The New York Film Critics’ Best Director, however, was veteran Clint Eastwood for the sentimental boxing/surrogate father-daughter drama Million Dollar Baby (one of the Best Film runners-up), featuring Eastwood as a laconic trainer, Hilary Swank as his loyal trainee, and Morgan Freeman as his gym assistant. (See further below the full list of this year’s New York Film Critics winners and runners-up.)

English performers Imelda Staunton & Clive Owen honored

The New York critics’ two other winners in the acting categories were both English performers:

London-born Imelda Staunton (who also won in Los Angeles and is now a shoo-in for an Academy Award nomination) was named Best Actress for her portrayal of a sweet working-class wife, mom, and abortionist in Mike Leigh’s British-made, 1950s-England-set Vera Drake.

Coventry-born Clive Owen was the Best Supporting Actor for playing Julia Roberts’ dysfunctional other half in Mike Nichols’ London-set relationship drama Closer.

Bad Education Gael García BernalBad Education with Gael García Bernal as a cross between a femme fatale and an homme fatal: Pedro Almodóvar’s neo-noir features comedy, drama, romance, mystery, religion, social commentary, an homage to Sara Montiel and cinema in general, and some daring gay sex scenes.

Gay-themed neo-noir named Best Foreign Language Film

New York’s Best Foreign Language Film choice was Pedro Almodóvar’s offbeat neo-noir Bad Education / La mala educación, starring Gael García Bernal as the (gay) childhood friend (but is he?) of a young filmmaker (Fele Martínez) in early 1980s Madrid.

Another non-English-language title, Zhang Yimou’s Chinese period epic Hero / Ying xiong, was the New York critics’ Best Cinematography winner (Christopher Doyle).

Suburban superheroes & the Iraq War disaster

Following its Los Angeles win, Brad Bird’s action-comedy The Incredibles, which chronicles the adventures of a family of suburban superheroes, was the New York Film Critics’ Best Animated Feature.

The Best Non-Fiction Film was Michael Moore’s blockbuster Fahrenheit 9/11, which eviscerates the George W. Bush White House and the compliant, complicit members of the American media who helped to engender the Iraq War.

Joshua Marston’s Maria Full of Grace, the tale of a Colombian drug mule (Catalina Sandino Moreno), was named the year’s Best First Film.

Milestone Films

Lastly, the recipient of the New York Film Critics’ Special Award was Milestone Films, “in honor of 15 years of restoring classic films.”

Among the dozens of offerings in the Milestone DVD/VHS catalogue are the Norman McLaren Collector’s Edition; Lois Weber’s 1921 silent drama The Blot, starring Claire Windsor and Louis Calhern; Marcel Ophüls’ Oscar-nominated 1969 documentary feature The Sorrow and the Pity / Le chagrin et la pitié; and seven Mary Pickford star vehicles (Stella Maris, Sparrows, My Best Girl, etc.).

New York Film Critics Circle winners & runners-up

Best Film: Sideways.

Runners-up: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Million Dollar Baby, and Kinsey.

Best Foreign Language Film: Bad Education.

Best Actress: Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake.

Runners-up: Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind & Annette Bening, Being Julia.

Best Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen, Sideways.

Best Actor: Paul Giamatti, Sideways.

Runners-up: Jamie Foxx, Ray; Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda; Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby.

Best Supporting Actor: Clive Owen, Closer.

Runner-up: Thomas Haden Church, Sideways.

Best Non-Fiction Film: Fahrenheit 9/11.

Runner-up: Tarnation.

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby.

Runner-up: Zhang Yimou, House of Flying Daggers / Shi mian mai fu.

Best Screenplay: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, Sideways.

Runner-up: Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Best First Film: Maria Full of Grace.

Best Animated Feature: The Incredibles.

Best Cinematography: Christopher Doyle, Hero.

Special Award: Milestone Films.

“New York Film Critics Awards” endnotes

New York Film Critics Circle website.

Milestone Films website.

The National Board of Review has turned out to be an outlier in the Best Film category.

Imelda Staunton, Virginia Madsen, and Clive Owen went on to receive Academy Award nominations. Paul Giamatti, for his part, became the sixth New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor winner since 1935 – and only the second in a U.S.-made release – not to receive a matching Oscar nod. His predecessors were Ralph Richardson (The Sound Barrier / Breaking the Sound Barrier, 1952), John Gielgud (Providence, 1977), Steve Martin (the U.S.-made All of Me, 1984), Jeremy Irons (Dead Ringers, 1988), and David Thewlis (Naked, 1993).

Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church Sideways movie image: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Gael García Bernal Bad Education movie image: Sony Pictures Classics.

“New York Film Critics Awards: California-Set Road Movie Is the Big Winner” last updated in December 2022.

Recommended for You

Leave a Comment

*IMPORTANT*: By using this form you agree with Alt Film Guide's storage and handling of your data (e.g., your IP address). Make sure your comment adds something relevant to the discussion: Feel free to disagree with us and write your own movie commentaries, but *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative. Abusive, inflammatory, spammy/self-promotional, baseless (spreading mis- or disinformation), and just plain deranged comments will be zapped. Lastly, links found in submitted comments will generally be deleted.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. If you continue browsing, that means you've accepted our Terms of Use/use of cookies. You may also click on the Accept button on the right to make this notice disappear. Accept Read More