Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
Director: Alexander Payne
Summary: Two men reaching middle age with not much to show for it embark on a week-long road trip through California’s wine country just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle
Other Nominations: Director, Supporting Actor (Haden Church), Supporting Actress (Madsen), Adapted Screenplay*
Basically, this is the kind of movie that fits my sensibilities to a T. I’d heard of it and remembered it had good reviews when it first came out, but I’d never had an urge to watch it and can’t imagine I ever would have if not for this project. Where to begin? The leads are extremely well-written: relatable but often unlikeable and pathetic characters who play off each other perfectly, and the performances for the two are fantastic (how Giamatti wasn’t nominated here, I have no idea). Beyond just the leads, the screenplay in general is a well-oiled machine, combining a bleak comedic streak with genuine pathos and great dialogue. Besides Giamatti, I would have also given two additional nominations to the film: the low-key jazz score which fits perfectly and the cinematography, which isn’t the kind of flashy, taking shots of beautiful scenery cinematography that usually gets nominated, but the shot composition is consistently excellent and it uses the camera’s focus well. Movies like this are why I’m happy I did this project.