Paul Giamatti stars in the dramatic comedy that touched audiences in Toronto before the Oscars.
American director Alexander Payne entered the Oscar race on Monday at the Toronto Film Festival with a screening of his film “The Holdovers,” a rousing comedy-drama about the relationship between a troubled professor and his troubled student in the 1970s.
Following on from “Besides” (2004), the new film marks Payne’s reunion with actor Paul Giamatti, who takes on the role of Paul Hanham, a school teacher in the United States who is unfazed by the failure of his students. Students who assume that their parents’ money will buy them good grades.
Hunham is forced to stay in the dorms during winter break to watch over the few students who can’t go home for the holidays. In the end, only one remains, Angus, a boy with a troubled family life, played by debutant Dominic Sesa. Throughout the film, they both create their own unlikely family.
Giamatti, Cessa and screenwriter David Hemmingson were absent from the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) screening on Monday due to a double strike by actors and writers in Hollywood.
The director, who received Oscars for the best screenplay for “The Side” and “The Descendants” (2011), praised the work of Sessa, who was hired from one of the boarding houses in Massachusetts (northeast of America), where the film was shot. “To be with Paul Giamatti in his first film is really extraordinary,” Payne said during a post-screening Q&A.
TIFF, which ends on September 17, is seen as a springboard for many films, especially with its Audience Award, which has established itself as a barometer in the Oscar race.
Alexander Payne upon arrival at TIFF. / Photo: AFP
In recent years, Nomadland and Green Book have both won Oscars for best picture after showing in Toronto.
Film awards site Gold Derby ranks “The Owners” among several major Oscar contenders, including best picture and best director.
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