Chicago Film Critics will present director Robert Altman with lifetime achievement award Jan. 19

Taking advantage of the fact that Robert Altman is temporarily living in Chicago, the Chicago Film Critics Assn. on Jan. 19 will hold a tribute evening to honor the award-winning director.

The 80-year old award-winning movie director will receive the Flame, a lifetime achievement award for his half century of innovative techniques and independent style in movies, TV and the theatre.

Altman is in Chicago as director of his Lyric opera production of “The Wedding,” which opened last month to rave reviews and SRO audiences. It is based on a movie Altman shot in Chicago 26 years ago.

The event also serves as a fund-raiser for Facets Multimedia’s Young Critics Program, said Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire, president of the Chicago Film Critics and a founding member of CFAC in 1988.

The informal Altman evening will be held at the Union League Club of Chicago, 65 W. Jackson Blvd. Roger Ebert and actor Martin Mull will present the award, followed by an up-close and personal Q&A with the director.

The program will be hosted by comedienne Maggie Gautier and Alison Ruble and Ben Hollis will perform memorable songs from Altman films.

Tickets are $40 at the door or $35 if purchased in advance via; or call executive producer Sharee Pemberton, 847/424-1774.

“Sideways” leads CFC 2004 Awards for best in movies

“Sideways,” a comical drama about two friends on a wine-tasting trip through California,” won five top awards from the 51 members of the Chicago Film Critics Assn.

Best picture and screenplay: “Sideways,” best actor for Paul Giamatti, supporting actor for Thomas Hayden Church and supporting actress for Chicago actress Virginia Madsen.

Best director: Clint Eastwood for the last minute 2004 release of “Million Dollar Baby.”

Best actress: 48-year old Imelda Staunton in Mike Leigh’s “Vera Drake.”

Best documentary: Michael Moore’s controversial “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Best foreign film: “A Very Long Engagement,” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou.

Best cinematography: “Robert Richardson for “The Aviator,” a tie with Christopher Doyle for “Hero.”

Best score: “The Aviator,” by Howard Shore.

Best new director: Zach Braff for “Garden State,” with Natalie Portman.

Best promising performer: Catalina Sandino Moreno in “Maria Full of Grace.”