conversations range from unrequited love to the mundane.
Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a flustered novelist who is mourning the two-year anniversary of his divorce. Miles is a wine expert and plans to drive through the California wine country with his old college buddy, Jack (Thomas Haden Church). An actor renown for his work in television commercials, Jack is to wed and Miles is his best man. Jack sees the trip as one last road trip and a chance to revisit his youth. After visiting Miles' mother, the odd couple arrives at the Hitching Post lounge. Being a regular of this establishment, Miles reconnects with his regular waitress, Mia (Virginia Madsen). Mia is recently divorced has become a graduate student. Even though he is preoccupied with his own hound dog sexual pursuits, Jack sniffs romance in the air between Jack and Mia.
At over two hours running time, "Sideways" unfolds at a leisurely pace. The colors and cinematography of the California wine country should sell many vacation packages. Like the Richard Gere-Jennifer Lopez movie "Shall We Dance," the leading characters and their relationships are defined by their hobby. Miles and Mia consummate their relationship after a lengthy conversation about the pinot grape.
As supporting actors, both Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen has been Oscar nominated. Sad sack Paul Giamatti actually owns this motion picture as a quasi Woody Allen leading man. A reliable character actor from "Howard Stern's Private Parts" "Saving Private Ryan," and "My Best Friend's Wedding," Paul is the son of the late Bart Giamatti, the Major League Baseball commissioner who banned Pete Rose from major league baseball.
The musical score created by Rolfe Kent should have been Oscar nominated. The breezy jazz score acts as a third companion in the car with Jack and Miles. This musical score should be noted for its sense of humor. When Jack and Miles go on the prowl, a subtle variation of a James Bond tune -"Miss Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"- can be heard.
"Sideways" is the fifth best picture nomination from a rotten cinematic year. Not to condemn the artistic success of the film, "Sideways" does succeed as a breezy lightweight comedy. Yet, should this little motion picture have taken the best picture slot from "The Passion of the Christ?" The challenge of
making a religious movie in two dead languages (Aramaic and Latin) that grossED over 370 million dollars deserves best picture recommendation.