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The Holdovers thoroughly deserves its five Oscar nominations

Film review: The Holdovers (15)

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Da’vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa

Director: Alexander Payne Run time: Two hours, 13 minutes

The Holdovers. Credit: Courtesy of FOCUS FEATURES / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC
The Holdovers. Credit: Courtesy of FOCUS FEATURES / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

With trailers for this film starting long before Christmas and it ultimately being put up for five Oscars, I was excited to finally see it on Monday evening – with the burning question: does it deserve those nominations?

And, having seen this warm, melancholic tale of three very different people, forced for different reasons to spend their Christmas together at a US boarding school, the answer is a resounding yes.

It deserves to be there for Best Picture, although Past Lives deserves to win in my opinion. Paul Giamatti is certainly worthy of his Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of cranky history teacher Paul Hunham and Da'Vine Joy Randolph definitely earned her nomination for her performance as no-nonsense head cook Mary Lamb.

The Holdovers
The Holdovers

I would concur with the film being up for Best Original Screenplay too. It is tender without being twee and extremely original. The three main characters comprise of a miserable teacher who struggles with social interactions, a grieving widow and a troubled student – they don’t immediately bond but the film does show, in a realistic way, how they rub along when forced to spend two weeks together.

Best Film Editing is probably a bit too technical for me to have an opinion on, but I will say the whole film is shot beautifully. It is set in the Seventies and it looks like it was filmed in the Seventies too, with audio mono and no widescreen. And the snowy scenes add to the feelings of sadness and melancholy, tinged with joy.

Some of the scenes towards the end are truly emotional and the film delivers a gut-punch ending too – although that is rather left to the viewer’s interpretation.

My only gripe would be the lack of any Oscar nomination for Dominic Sessa as student Angus Tully. He is superb throughout on his film debut.

Rating: 9/10

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