This is just Monday-morning quarterbacking and by no means a critical issue, but Alexander Payne’s Sideways wasn’t quite as favored to win the Best Picture award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association last Saturday as much as Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby was, although the undeniably first-rate Sideways took the prize in the end. Now there are hints that Warner Bros. publicity may not have pushed hard or early enough with M$B screenings. Two critics who attended the LAFCA gathering on Saturday (at the home of Variety and Film Week critic Lael Lowenstein) say that LAFCA president Henry Sheehan announced just before Saturday’s Best Picture balloting that as of the previous Thursday morning (12.9), a Warner Bros. publicist had told him that among LAFCA’s 46 members, 20 had not at that point seen Million Dollar Baby. And yet later that day DVD screeners of Eastwood’s film were messengered to critics’ homes, and then an all-media showing happened Thursday night at the Grove, so you’d think everyone would have seen it one way or the other. But a lot of journos are lazy and every publicist knows this, and you’d think to be on the safe side WB would not have waited until 48 hours before the LAFCA voting to make sure everyone had caught it. Both LAFCA critics I spoke to (neither of whom was Sheehan, whose only comment was that he was “surprised” that Sideways won) said that a LAFCA member said in the wake of Sheehan’s announcement that Warner Bros. “didn’t make it easy for us” to see M$B. 36 LAFCA members attended Saturday’s voting session, although some absentees (like L.A.Times critic Kenneth Turan) registered their vote by proxy.