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'Sideways' is hilarious and thought-provoking



As this week's reviews have noted, many of the 2014 Oscar nominees have won or been nominated before. "Nebraska" director Alexander Payne has made several Oscar winning films throughout his career. For a look at something a little different from "Nebraska," check out the 2004 film "Sideways."

"Sideways" is a thinking man's road trip buddy romantic comedy. The buddies in question are Miles (played by Paul Giamatti), a depressed English teacher and writer and Jack (played by Thomas Haden Church), a soap opera actor who is getting married. Both are wine enthusiasts, so one week before the wedding, they take Miles' Saab to the Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Neither is averse to casual female encounters during the week, but Miles does become uncomfortable when Jack leads on one of his paramours and her daughter. The two female leads are Stephanie (played by Sandra Oh) and Maya (played by Virginia Madsen).

The main characters in "Sideways" are both memorable characters. Miles has a slightly stronger moral compass but is disappointed with his life. Jack is much more upbeat, but he is also sexist. They work well together because they need each other. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church both give excellent performances.

Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen are both equally good. Madsen earned an Academy Award nomination for playing Maya. She deserved it as she gives the film its most responsible and thoughtful character.

"Sideways" is as good as a fine wine. It is often funny and features great performances.