Metascore
94

Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. 100
    A film that celebrates the intricacies of life in ways both splendid and mundane, revealing it all with unflinching honesty.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    100
    It's a performance (Giamatti's) so nuanced and so real in its everyday pain that it doesn't stand a chance of winning an Oscar. But it should.
  3. U.S. geography doesn't matter to Payne. He always charts the terrain of the human heart, and he's among the wisest of mapmakers.
  4. 100
    The characters are played not by the first actors you would think of casting, but by actors who will prevent you from ever being able to imagine anyone else in their roles.
  5. A boisterous, brilliant, heart-warming comedy--strikes me as just about perfect.
  6. Not a masterpiece, but definitely one of the year's most entertaining movies.
  7. Reviewed by: Melissa Levine
    90
    For the most part, Sideways is a great movie--impeccably written, directed and acted--that takes its characters on a journey toward something new.
  8. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    100
    Brilliantly observed characters are becoming second nature to Payne and Taylor, and the performances here are uniformly terrific. This is wonderful, original stuff.
  9. It's an intoxicating feeling when a movie excites and enlivens us like this -- and there's a particular giddiness to be had in thinking about what movies can (but don't often) do for one's soul after imbibing such a fine vintage.
  10. Reviewed by: Michael Ferraro
    90
    Alexander Payne is becoming one of the greatest American directors of modern cinema and again, Sideways is on its way to being one of the best films of the year.
  11. Reviewed by: Kim Morgan
    90
    A trenchant American satirist in his previous films, Payne moves in a different direction with Sideways -- one less mordant but just as pointedly observant.
  12. 100
    Exactly written, directed with a surgeon's precision and transcendently acted, Sideways brings emotional reality to a consistently amusing character comedy, making it something to be cherished like the delicate Santa Ynez Valley wines that are the story's vivid backdrop.
  13. 100
    What makes it the best movie of the year -- is its insight into human behavior.
  14. The best comedy of 2004. In fact, it's so far the best movie of the year.
  15. Sweetest, funniest, most humane movie I've seen all year.
  16. 100
    A sublime variation on the buddy road movie, infusing the midlife crises of the two main protagonists with hope and poetry.
  17. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    100
    In Sideways, Payne has created four of the most lived-in, indelible characters in recent American movies. This deliciously bittersweet movie makes magic out of the quotidian.
  18. Exhilarating, edgy and wryly comic.
  19. 91
    Gets under your skin without you quite being able to say when or how. It has the tact to let you draw yourself in to it.
  20. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    100
    Every performance here is wonderful, and the movie abounds in moments so true as to be cringe-worthy.
  21. 88
    It's likely that 2004 won't offer a better movie about a mid-life crisis.
  22. Wise, entertaining and often very funny.
  23. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    90
    A warm, ingratiating, and fitfully hilarious epicurean road movie with a steady ache-an ache like a red-wine hangover.
  24. 90
    Good comedies are rare, but rarer still are those that conflate laughter with intimacy.
  25. Hysterically funny yet melancholy comedy.
  26. Like the film itself, the performance (Giamatti's) is deeply controlled, played with restraint and with microscopic attention to detail.
  27. 90
    In this role Giamatti gives his bravest, most generously humane performance yet. Women may be repelled, but men will know this man, because, at one time or another, many of us have been this man.
  28. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    Sideways is by far the year's best American movie.
  29. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    100
    This is a building-block movie: Its stand-out excellence becomes apparent only gradually.
  30. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    A beautifully observed, small-scale study of personal foibles, romantic uncertainty and two sides of the sadly predictable male animal.
  31. 90
    Jack and Miles are male archetypes, as well as the two most fully realized comic creations in recent American movies.
  32. Sideways makes you glad about America, about movies, about life.
  33. 100
    One of the most pleasurable movies of the year.
  34. Reviewed by: Teresa Wiltz
    100
    There's not a false note here, and the entire supporting cast -- is uniformly excellent.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 638 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. RodG.
    Feb 21, 2007
    6
    I'm not too retarded that I didn't get the humor. It just wasn't a great movie. It was okay but not one to own. I'm sure people who are uptight and think they are upper class citizens found this movie delightful. Good for you. Full Review »
  2. Dec 28, 2011
    10
    Giamatti's character's dimensions are written with such care that it makes him tangible and engaging. He's both fragile and explosive. When set against Haden Church's aging jock it creates a great story with a Laurel & Hardy quality to it. What I liked though is that looks at love were highly imperfect but still had real consequences. Jennifer Aniston is not in this film. The actors are believable. I was able to want to believe them, right or wrong, for better or worse. Full Review »
  3. Feb 7, 2011
    10
    Absolute perfection - a film in which ever detail is tuned beautifully, but not overdone. The cinematography, the music, the story, the set pieces, the realism, the WINE, the humour, the dialogue... and above all else the finest character performance I've seen from a consistently great character actor, Paul Giamatti. He captures Miles with precision - reading the novel, which is narrated by Miles, you obviously gain great insight into his character, but with every twitch, half-smile, lame comment, heartbreaking expression, he truly becomes Pickett's character, and brings him to life like no other could. Haden Church as Jack is a fantastic antithesis to Miles, and gives the surprise performance of the century, and Madsen offers a strong but scarred woman, who ultimately breathes life into Miles' body. I'm only really talking about performances here, but really, you have to see this movie yourself. For some fantastic camera work look out for the scene in Los Olivos, with a drunken Miles on the phone to his ex-wife, for a beautiful piece of music from Rolfe Kent, listen out for the scene at Mrs Raymond's, where Miles is looked down upon by his family (metaphorically, of course - they are in photographs), and for the best example of just how strong Giamatti is here, watch his stomach turn as Victoria gives him the news after the wedding. He painfully holds onto a smile, and we can see in his hurt, tormented eyes that he just wants to let go. Movie magic until the last second, and after that. Mature filmmaking at its best - as 'Jimmy' says, "an instant classic... an honest film and as real as a movie can be." Couldn't have put it better myself. Full Review »