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The Toronto Film Critics' Association has picked director Alexander Payne's comedy Sideways as the best picture of 2004.

The same film also won best performance for Paul Giamatti, as a frustrated writer and wine connoisseur who goes on a tasting trip with his college friend and discovers love. Best supporting actress honours went to Virginia Madsen in the same film.

The 30-member association of Toronto print and broadcast critics gave two awards to the time-looping comedy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which won best director for Michel Gondry and best screenplay for Charlie Kaufman.

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Another double winner was The Triplets of Belleville, which won as best Canadian feature and best animated film.

Imelda Staunton won best actress for her performance as a fifties' housewife and abortionist in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, while the best supporting male performance went to Clive Owen for the sexual drama, Closer.

The best first feature was the story of a young woman working as a drug mule, Maria Full of Grace, directed by Joshua Marston.

The best foreign-language film was judged to be Zhang Yimou's sumptuous martial-arts epic, Hero, and the best documentary prize went to Errol Morris's The Fog of Wa r.

The association's annual Clyde Gilmour Award went to film professor and former Toronto International Film Festival programmer Kay Armatage for her contribution to the appreciation and promotion of Canadian cinema.

The TFCA, which considers all films that have had at least a one-week theatrical run in Toronto during the previous calendar year, also awarded a special citation to Toronto filmmaker Chris Landreth's short film Ryan, produced by the National Film Board. Ryan, a tribute to Oscar-nominated animator Ryan Larkin, was hailed as "an historic achievement in Canadian animation."

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