February 26, 2005 - 2004 Oscar-winning film from director Alexander Payne. Starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh.

Giamatti and Church play Miles and Jack, two buddies from their college days. Miles makes his living as an English teacher, but what he really wants to do is write. He thinks he's "thisclose" to finally getting a novel published. Jack is an actor who once starred in a hit TV show but now makes his living doing voice-over work.

The story begins with Miles and Jack setting off for the wine regions of California, two bachelors hitting the road for one last fling before Jack marries into a wealthy family. Miles sees a trip filled with fine wine, brotherhood and golf. Jack wants to get laid and figures he might as well get Miles laid while he's at it.

First stop is a restaurant which Miles has visited many times. Their waitress is Maya (Madsen). Jack can see that she's interested in Miles, but Miles is depressed and uninterested after learning that his ex-wife has remarried.

Next day, they stop at a little winery and meet Stephanie, played by Sandra Oh. She and Jack hit it off. Turns out Stephanie knows Maya, so they all go out on a double date then go back to Stephanie's house. While Jack and Stephanie have sex, Miles and Maya, in the best scene in the movie, talk intimately about wine.

Miles and Maya eventually hook up, only to have Miles ruin it the next day when he tells Maya that Jack is set to be married. Maya tells Stephanie, Stephanie opens up a can of whoop-ass on Jack, Miles loses Maya and has to clean up Jack's mess to boot. Can Miles win back the girl? The movie lets you decide.

Overall review: **** Loved it! It's funny, it's sad, it's tender, it's brutal. It won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (I think), but I can see why it didn't win for Best Picture. It's a great film, but it's not "big" - no big stars, no big issues or themes, no big special effects. It's just a neat, little, intimate film about being human.