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Sideways is a 2004 Americanmarker comedy-drama film written by Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne and directed by Payne. Adapted from Rex Pickett's 2004 novel, Sideways follows two forty-something men, portrayed by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, who take a week-long road trip to the wine country of Santa Barbara. Payne and Taylor won multiple awards for their screenplay. Giamatti and Church, as well as actresses Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh, playing local women who become romantically involved with the men, all received accolades for their performances.


Miles Raymond (Giamatti) is a single divorcé, unpublished writer, and wine-aficionado living in San Diegomarker, who takes his soon-to-be-married actor friend and college roommate, Jack Cole (Church), on a week-long road trip through Santa Ynez Valleymarker wine country. Miles wants to drink wine, eat fine food, play golf, enjoy the scenery, and send Jack off in style. However, Jack is more interested in "sowing his wild oats" and having one last sexual fling. Along the way, Miles stops to see his mother for her birthday, and also to steal some cash that she keeps hidden. During dinner it becomes clear that Miles still has strong feelings for his ex-wife, Victoria.

Soon after their arrival in wine country, they encounter Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress at Miles' favorite restaurant, and her friend Stephanie (Sandra Oh), a winery employee. Jack quickly arranges a double date. Neither man tells the women about Jack's imminent marriage. Jack embarks on a whirlwind affair with Stephanie while Miles hesitantly tries to connect with Maya. After some fumbling and awkward moments, Miles and Maya sleep together, and he gives her a copy of his unpublished manuscript.

The following day, Miles accidentally lets slip to Maya the fact that Jack is soon to be married. She tells Stephanie, who attacks Jack, breaking his nose. Miles also receives the crushing news that his novel has been rejected yet again, and his agent advises him that it is probably futile to keep resubmitting it. He hopes that the altercation with Stephanie has quieted Jack's hormonally charged mindset, but Jack meets Cammi, a waitress who recognizes him from his acting work, and he goes home with her.

Miles is awakened in the middle of the night by Jack, who has returned to the motel panicked and naked. He breathlessly tells Miles that Cammi's husband caught him in flagrante delicto and he had to run, leaving behind his clothes and a wallet containing irreplaceable, custom-made wedding bands. If he returns home without the rings, he says, his fiancee will dump him, and that will destroy him. He tearfully begs Miles to retrieve the bands. Miles reluctantly agrees to help, sneaking into Cammi's house while she and her husband are having sex. He retrieves the wallet, but is chased down the street by Cammi's naked husband, narrowly escaping. As a cover story to explain his broken nose, Jack runs Miles' car into a tree (and eventually into a ditch). Jack's fiancee and her wealthy family believe the tale and offer him support and sympathy.

At the wedding, Miles encounters his ex-wife, Victoria, who has remained friendly with Jack. She introduces Miles to her new husband and tells him that she is pregnant. Miles, finally forced to face the fact that Victoria will never return to him, skips the reception to go home and get his prized bottle, a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc. He had purchased the wine so that he and Victoria could drink it together on the 10th anniversary of their wedding; instead, he drinks it alone, unceremoniously, from a foam cup at a fast-food restaurant.

About a month later Miles arrives home to find that Maya has left a message on his answering machine. She thanks him for a letter he wrote to her and says that she needed some time to think about what happened. She also says that she enjoyed his book and thinks that he is an excellent writer, although she expresses some confusion regarding the novel's ending. The message also reveals some details that might help explain Miles's bleak perspective of the world. She invites him to see her if ever returns to the wine country. The film ends with Miles traveling back to Santa Ynez Valley and knocking on Maya's door.



Time Out London said the film was "intelligent, funny and moving," and the Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert, giving the film four stars, said, "what happens during the seven days adds up to the best human comedy of the year -- comedy, because it is funny, and human, because it is surprisingly moving." The review aggregator Metacritic gives Sideways a Metascore of 94%, signifying "universal [critical] acclaim." The movie also holds a rare 97% rating at Rotten Tomatoes with 199 positive reviews out of 206.

A surprise hit, Sideways became popular in Hollywood, the US and internationally. Santa Ynez Valleymarker, where much of the film is set, attracted increased tourism. The film was nominated for dozens of awards, winning many, and was dubbed "the best reviewed movie of 2004." With the exception of Giamatti, who had already starred in critically acclaimed films such as American Splendor, the film was a career breakthrough for the stars. Haden Church and Madsen were nominated for Oscars. Giamatti has since been headlined as "The World's Best Character Actor" by Time Magazine. Giamatti was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his performance in 2005's Cinderella Man. Sandra Oh, who has since broken up with the film's director, Alexander Payne, has gone on to star in Grey's Anatomy for which she won a Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award. Church went on to play a prominent role in the blockbuster Spider-Man 3.

The film bears a resemblance to a little seen sleeper hit that came out in the early 70s called Your Three Minutes Are Up starring Beau Bridges and Ron Leibman about two long time bachelor friends that embark on a road trip before one of them (Bridges) gets married.

Sideways ranks 494th on Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.

Impact on wine industry

Throughout the film, Miles speaks fondly of the red wine varietal Pinot Noir, while denigrating Merlot. Following the film's U.S. release in October 2004, Merlot sales dropped 2% while Pinot Noir sales increased 16% in the Western United States. A similar trend occurred in British wine outlets. Sales of Merlot dropped after the film's release possibly due to Miles' disparaging remarks about the varietal in the film.. However, sales of Merlot in the United States remain more than double those of Pinot Noir, the country's second most popular wine.

Awards and nominations


The original soundtrack album of the film features 15 jazz instrumentals composed and produced by Rolfe Kent. The album was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Score".


Fox International Productions and Fuji TVmarker will release a Japanesemarker-language remake of the film in Fall 2009. It is directed by Cellin Gluck and stars Katsuhisa Namase, Fumiyo Kohinata, Kyoka Suzuki and Rinko Kikuchi.

The remake shifts the setting of the film to Napa Valleymarker. Although listed as an executive producer, Alexander Payne is not involved with the remake but gave it his blessing. Paul Giamatti criticized aspects of the remake, and turned down a cameo in the film.

See also


  1. Time Out London
  2. Chicago Sun Times by Roger Ebert.
  3. Sideways Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  7. 'Sideways' gets Japanese remake
  8. ‘Sideways’ Returns, Uncorked for Japan
  9. Paul Giamatti Kinda Trashes Japanese Remake of 'Sideways'

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