Cast & Crew
Thomas Haden Church
Miles Raymond, an ardent oenophile, eighth-grade school teacher and aspiring novelist, has arranged a tour of the Santa Barbara wine country with his old college roommate Jack to savor Jack's last week of freedom before forsaking bachelorhood for the sanctity of marriage. Realizing that he is running late, Miles, who lives in San Diego, telephones Jack in Los Angeles and tells him that he is "just out the door," but then indulges in hours of preparation. In Los Angeles, when Miles arrives to pick up Jack at the opulent house owned by the parents of his Armenian fiancée, Christine Erganian, he nearly becomes apoplectic upon learning that Jack has told the Erganians that his novel has been accepted for publication. As they drive off in Miles's old Saab, Miles, who has been clinically depressed since his divorce from his wife Victoria two years earlier, continues to fume about Jack's premature announcement of his success when in fact, Miles is anxiously awaiting word from his agent. Jack, whose career as an actor peaked eleven years earlier when he played a soap opera doctor and now finds himself faced with the prospect of working for his future father-in-law, is eager to savor every last moment of his freedom, and so opens the warm bottle of rare sparkling wine that Miles has been saving for the trip. As they approach Oxnard, Miles makes an unscheduled stop to wish his mother happy birthday, scribbling her birthday card as he walks from his car to her house. Dressed in a dowdy bathrobe, Miles's mother Phyllis beams over her son's unexpected visit and insists they stay for dinner. When Phyllis buoyantly announces that she has phoned Miles's sister and arranged for a family brunch at a hotel the next day, Miles sullenly excuses himself from the table. Going to his mother's bedroom, he peels several $100 bills from her secret stash, then notices the framed photos of his family and ex-wife on her dresser. Early the next morning, as Phyllis snoozes on the couch, Miles awakens Jack and hustles him out of the house. When they stop at a coffee shop, Jack flirts with the waitress and decides that, as a gift to Miles, his best man, he is going to "get him laid." As they approach Santa Barbara county, Miles stops at a winery and is appalled when Jack chews gum as Miles tries to coach him on the fine art of wine tasting. After checking into their hotel, they dine at a restaurant where Jack sizes up Maya, an attractive waitress. Although Miles, a frequent customer of the restaurant, tells Jack that Maya is married, Jack assures Miles that she is attracted to him. At the end of the evening, when Maya stops at the restaurant bar for a drink, Miles screws up the courage to ask her to join them, and Jack brags that Miles's novel is about to be published. When Maya expresses interest, Miles announces that he is going back to the hotel to sleep, earning Jack's contempt. The next morning over breakfast Jack, fed up with Miles's negative attitude, declares he is "going to get laid," offending Miles, who imagined an idyllic week tasting wine and playing golf with his old friend. At another tasting room, Jack ogles Stephanie, the saucy wine pourer, and asks if she knows Maya. Chagrined, Miles walks out to his car and soon after, a smiling Jack comes out carrying three cases of wine and informs Jack that he has set up a double date with Stephanie and the divorced Maya for that night. While stopping along the roadside, Miles rhapsodizes about Victoria's extraordinary wine palate. When Jack shatters Miles's reverie by disclosing that Victoria has remarried and plans on attending his wedding, Miles petulantly grabs a bottle of wine and slugs it down as Jack chases him through the fields. That evening, as they approach the restaurant where they are to meet Maya and Stephanie, Jack admonishes Miles "not to be a downer," and Miles warns that if anyone orders a bottle of merlot, he is leaving. Using the excuse of Miles's book deal, Jack orders intemperate amounts of wine. Becoming progressively drunker, Miles excuses himself from the table and calls Victoria from a pay phone. After a quarrelsome conversation, he returns to the table and Jack guesses that he "drank and dialed." When Stephanie invites them all back to her house, Jack ecstatically hands Miles a condom. While Stephanie and Jack retire to a night of passion in the bedroom, Maya and Miles discuss wine, and Miles reveals that the prize in his collection is a bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc that he is saving for a special occasion. Miles is impressed when Maya remarks that "anytime you open a bottle of Cheval Blanc it is a special occasion." When Maya asks Miles about his fondness for pinot noir wines, he replies that they are thin-skinned and temperamental and require constant care and attention. Miles begins to feel a rapport with Maya when she defines wine as a living thing that continues to evolve until it peaks, then begins an inevitable decline. Later, as they drive off in their separate cars, Miles to his hotel and Maya to her apartment, Miles gives her the 750 page manuscript of his novel that she has requested to read. The next morning, Jack bursts into their hotel room, crowing about Stephanie's sexual animalism, and informs Miles that he is spending the day with her. Later that afternoon, Jack joins Miles at the hotel bar and confides that he is thinking of putting the wedding on "hold." When Jack begins fantasizing about moving to Santa Barbara and opening a vineyard, Miles regards him with disbelief. After Jack heads out with Stephanie, her mother Carol and daughter Siena, Miles settles in with his antidepressants, wine and a porn magazine. The next day, Miles, who has not heard from his agent, tells Jack he is a fraud and that his life is "behind him." Jack then tries to reassure Miles that his book will be published and that Maya is romantically interested in him. At sunset, the foursome picnic in the grass and afterward, Miles follows Maya to her apartment where they make love. As they ramble around town the next day, Maya suggests that Miles stay through the weekend to attend a wine dinner. When Miles replies without thinking that they have to be back in Los Angeles by Friday for Jack's rehearsal dinner, Maya realizes that he has been deceiving her and denounces him. Chastened, Miles returns to his hotel room and declares that he wants to go home. To lift Miles's spirits, Jack takes him to a large commercial winery that peddles tee shirts and hats alongside their wines. Finding the courage to phone his agent, Miles learns that his book has been rejected. Devastated in both love and work, Miles starts to pop pills and swill wine, finally gulping down the entire bucket in which people have spit out their unwanted wine. When Miles and Jack return to their hotel, Stephanie, who is waiting for them in the parking lot, slams Jack with her motorcycle helmet, breaking his nose. Later, while waiting for Jack in the hospital, Miles phones Maya and confesses to her answering machine that his novel has been rejected. On the last night of their adventure, Miles and Jack eat at a restaurant where Jack flirts with their chubby waitress Cammi and arranges to go home with her. Later, the slumbering Miles is awakened by a pounding on his hotel room door. Upon opening the door, Miles sees Jack standing in the nude, ranting that Cammi's husband came home in the middle of their tryst and that he was forced to flee, leaving his clothes and wallet behind. Because his wedding rings are in the wallet, Jack cajoles Miles into driving to Cammi's house to retrieve the wallet. When Miles sneaks into Cammi's bedroom, however, he finds her gleefully engaged in sex with her husband, who excitedly calls her a whore and "bad girl." Snatching the wallet, Miles is chased from the house by Cammi's corpulent, naked husband, whom he narrowly avoids by jumping into the car and speeding off. When they stop at a gas station on the road back to Los Angeles, Jack begs Miles to let him drive, and Miles reluctantly consents. Jack then deliberately crashes the car into a tree, intending to use the car accident as an excuse for his broken nose. Deciding that the car is not damaged enough, Jack places a cement brick on the gas peddle and sends the driverless car plunging into a ditch. At Jack's wedding the next day, Miles encounters Victoria and her husband Ken. Upon discovering that Victoria is pregnant, Miles, shattered, deserts the wedding party and heads home for San Diego where he downs the bottle of Cheval Blanc with burgers at a hamburger stand. Some time later, Miles returns home from teaching school and finds that Maya has left a message on his answering machine. In the message, Maya thanks him for his letter and says that she found his book beautiful and painful and urges him to keep writing. With Maya's words running through his head, Miles drives to her apartment and knocks on her door.
Thomas Haden Church
Rev. Fr. Khoren Babouchian
Cesar "cheeser" Ramos
W. K. Stratton
Alex J. Castillo
Denise M. Ciarcia
Bridget M. Cook
Daniela De Carlo
Julie A. Elder
Rachel Anne Fleischer
Donald L. Frazee
Jose Antonio Garcia
Jeffrey M. Hall
Scott E. Handt
Heghine "helen" Harboyan
Sean M. Higgins
Patrick R. Hoeschen
Brian A. Hoffman
Donna Lee Killins
Timothy "tk" Kirkpatrick
David Allen Klingenberger
Rebecca Whitesell Lafond
John Latenser V
Carl Sonny Leyland
Mark "travis" Little
Maurice K. Mcguire
Jacqueline J. Nivens
Jeffrey M. O'brien
Kyle "snappy" Oliver
Ricardo "tiki" Pasillas
Benjamin "jami" Philbrick
Gary K. Price
Brent T. Regan
Edward M. Rudolph
Paul G. Sanchez
T. Daniel Scaringi
Anne Elise Schmidt
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
The film opens with a black screen over which is heard the sound of someone pounding at a door. As "Miles" utters an obscenity, the opening credits begin to roll. Closing onscreen credits note that footage from the following film and television shows were used in Sideways: Grapes of Wrath, Hell's Battlefield: The Battle of the Bulge, Codename: Kids Next Door, MTV's "The Grind", golf footage from the Golf Channel, and Marketplace. Excerpts from John Knowles' 1959 novel A Separate Peace were read in Miles's classroom.
According to an October 2004 article in Premiere, author Rex Pickett asked producer Michael London to read Pickett's unpublished novel titled Two Guys on Wine and give him his honest opinion of the work. Because London liked the material, Pickett passed the novel to his former agent, Jess Taylor, who was working at Endeavor Agency, which was also Alexander Payne's agency. In January 1999, Taylor pitched the novel to Payne's agent, and it was added to a pile of manuscripts for Payne to read. After Taylor left Endeavor in May 1999, London introduced Pickett to Brian Lipson, the agent who had replaced Taylor at Endeavor. After reading the novel, Lipson agreed to represent Pickett. Although both Lipson and Pickett had assumed that Payne was not interested in the project, Payne's assistant brought the novel to the director's attention. After reading the novel on a flight to Edinburgh in September 1999, Payne decided to film it after competing About Schmidt. In fact, in About Schmidt, as "Warren Schmidt" drives into Kansas on his road trip, he passes a film theater marquee advertising Sideways.
In November 1999, according to a Daily Variety news item, Artisan Entertainment paid $2,500,000 for the screen rights to Pickett's novel, Payne's services as director and writer and London's fee as a producer. Under the agreement, Artisan pledged to greenlight the production as long as the film budget was less than $10,000,000. However, Artisan was experiencing financial difficulties, and by the time Payne finished About Schmidt, the company had gone bankrupt.
According to a December 2003 Los Angeles Times article, after their deal with Artisan fell apart, Payne and London decided to invest their own money to option the screen rights and develop the screenplay (with Payne's writing partner Jim Taylor) before approaching other studios to finance distribution and production costs. Payne made the following changes to the novel: in the novel, Miles is an unemployed writer, not a school teacher, "Jack's" fiancée is not Armenian and Miles lives in Santa Monica, not in Ocean Beach, which is near San Diego. In a December 30, 2004 Los Angeles Times article, Payne's production designer, Jane Ann Stewart, explained that they decided to put Miles's apartment in Ocean Beach because most of the residents there are surfers or young adults who have just graduated from college, "so if you're still there in your 40s, that's something right there." Within the film, the exact location of Miles's San Diego apartment is never specified.
Payne, who insisted upon maintaining creative independence on the project, wanted actors who would "bring the most comedy and pathos to the parts," which created problems for several of the studios, which wanted "famous actors." The 2003 Los Angeles Times article went on to say that although Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Edward Norton and John Cusack expressed an interest in appearing in the film, Payne decided to cast Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church. At a December 15, 2004 AFI Master seminar, Payne stated that Sideways was the first project in which he did not need movie stars to obtain financing. A July 2003 Hollywood Reporter news item listed the four companies that bid on the film: Universal Pictures, Fox Searchlight, Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks. Although Universal had the first right of negotiation, the company could not come to terms with Payne on budget or cast. Payne then signed a deal with Fox Searchlight, which gave him an $18,000,000 budget ceiling.
Filming began on September 29, 2003 in California's Santa Ynez Valley, where Pickett set his novel and spent a lot of his time. Shooting was done at the Hitching Post restaurant, Sanford Winery, AJ Spurs, Days Inn Buellton and Clubhouse Sports Bar, all in Buellton; at the Fess Parker Winery in Los Olivos; the Kalrya Winery in Santa Ynez; the Los Olivos Café & Wine Merchant in Los Olivos and at the Solvang Restaurant, Ostrich Land and River Course at the Alisal Guest Ranch, all in Solvang. The December 30, 2004 Los Angeles Times article added that "only one sound stage set was built for the film, the rest were created on location, in the apartments or houses shown in the exterior shots." A December 9, 2004 Los Angeles Times news item noted that the picture created a tourism boom in the Santa Ynez Valley.
The film is divided into a series of days, starting with Saturday, the day that Miles and Jack begin their trip, and ending with the following Saturday, the day of Jack's wedding. The name of the days, rendered in white lettering against a black screen, precedes each of the segments except for Thursday, the day after "Maya" and Miles make love. That sequence is introduced by the word Thursday superimposed upon the early morning light. In an October 2004 Hollywood Reporter news item, Rolfe Kent, the film's composer, stated that Payne disliked the use of "surround soundtracks" that are prevalent in modern films, preferring a more sparing use of sound (a preference reiterated by Payne in the AFI seminar.) Consequently, Kent wrote a score for the film that was played by an eight piece jazz orchestra and recorded on a mixing deck from the 1950s. Sideways was the first film that Payne, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, directed that is not set in Nebraska. Kent, film editor Kevin Tent, and Stewart all worked with Payne and his writing partner Taylor on their previous three films: Citizen Ruth, Election and About Schmidt. Art director "TK" Kirkpatrick and costume designer Wendy Chuck both worked with Payne on two of his previous films. Sandra Oh, who plays the character of "Stephanie," is Payne's wife.
Onscreen credits list "Lulu" as the "Editorial cat." According to Tent, Lulu was an abandoned cat that Payne found on the side of the road who subsequently spent a lot of time in the editing room. Among the organizations thanked by the producers for their assistance are: The Sanford, Kalyra, Foxen, Firestone, Andrew Murray and Fess Parker wineries, the last of which stood in for the Frass Winery. As acknowledged by some of the people involved in the film's production, the definition of "frass" is bug excrement, which is a euphemism for how Miles feels about the wine they produce. Chris Burroughs, who plays the wine pourer at Sanford, actually works as the wine pourer at the winery.
In addition to being selected as one of AFI's top ten films of the year, Sideways received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (Payne and Jim Taylor) and received four other nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Alexander Payne), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Virginia Madsen) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Thomas Haden Church). The film won Golden Globe awards in the categories of Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay (Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor), and was nominated for Golden Globes in the categories of Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy (Paul Giamatti); Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Thomas Haden Church); Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Virginia Madsen) and Best Original Score (Rolfe Kent). Sideways was nominated for a Darryl F. Zanuck award for Best Picture by the Producers Guild of America, Payne was nominated as Best Director by the Directors Guild of America and Payne and Taylor received the Best Adapted Screenplay award from the Writers Guild of America. Giamatti, Church and Madsen all were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Screen Actors Guild, which awarded the film's cast its ensemble award for Outstanding Performance.
The film also received the following Independent Spirit Awards: Best Director (Payne); Best Screenplay (Payne, Taylor); Best Feature (Michael London); Best Male Lead (Giamatti); Best Supporting Male (Church); Best Supporting Female (Madsen). Sideways won the following National Board of Review awards: Best Screenplay-Adapted (Payne) and Best Supporting Actor (Church). The Broadcast Film Critics Association awarded the film Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Acting Ensemble and Best Writer. Sideways was named Best Picture by the New York Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics and was included in many of the top ten films of 2004 lists, including that of the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.
Voted one of the 10 best films of 2004 by the American Film Institute (AFI).
Winner of the 2004 award for Best Adapted Screenplay by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
Winner of the 2004 award for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA).
Winner of the 2004 award for Film of the Year by the London Critics' Circle.
Winner of the 2004 awards for Best Film, Best Actor (Paul Giamatti) and Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen) by the Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA).
Winner of the 2004 awards for Best Film, Best Actor (Paul Giamatti), Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church), Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen) and Best Screenplay by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA).
Winner of the 2004 awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Paul Giamatti), Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church), Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen) and Best Screenplay by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle (SFFCC).
Winner of the 2004 awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church) and Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen) by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA).
Winner of the 2004 awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Paul Giamatti) and Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen) by the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC).
Winner of the 2004 awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church) and Best Ensemble Cast by the Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC).
Winner of the 2004 awards for Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church), Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen) and Best Adapted Screenply by the Seattle Film Critics.
Winner of the 2004 awards for Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen), Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church) and Best Screenplay by the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC).
Winner of the 2004 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Best Ensemble Cast.
Winner of the 2004 Writers Guild (WGA) award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Winner of two 2004 awards including Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church) and Best Adapted Screenplay by the National Board of Review (NBR).
Winner of two 2004 Satellite Awards including Best Supporting Actor - Comedy or Musical (Thomas Haden Church) and Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical by the International Press Academy (IPA).
Released in United States Fall October 22, 2004
Released in United States on Video April 5, 2005
Released in United States 2004
Released in United States October 2004
Released in United States February 2007
Shown at the 2004 Chicago Film Festival.Shown at the 2004 Torino Film Festival.
Shown at New York Film Festival October 1-17, 2004.
Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Eat, Drink, See Movies) February 8-18, 2007.
Based on the novel "Sideways" written by Rex Pickett. Artisan paid $2.5 million for the screen rights to the novel, Payne's writing and directing services, and London's fees. Picked up from turnaround at Artisan by Fox Searchlight.
Released in United States Fall October 22, 2004
Released in United States on Video April 5, 2005
Released in United States 2004 (Shown at the 2004 Chicago Film Festival.Shown at the 2004 Torino Film Festival.)
Released in United States October 2004 (Shown at New York Film Festival October 1-17, 2004.)
Released in United States February 2007 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Eat, Drink, See Movies) February 8-18, 2007. )
Winner of the 2005 Artios Award for Feature Film - Comedy by the Casting Society of America (CSA).