Paul Giamatti may land first best actor Oscar nomination
NEW YORK, USA (AP) — When Paul Giamatti made Sideways with Alexander Payne he stayed in a little house in the middle of a large vineyard. At the end of a day of shooting, he would drive home in darkness, with the California hills around him.
Giamatti was then a respected character actor, but this was one of his first times as the lead. And he couldn’t believe it.
“I remember Alexander saying, ‘You two guys are going to do it,'” recalls Giamatti of himself and Thomas Hayden Church. “And we were like, ‘Seriously?'”
In the years since, Giamatti, 56, has remained a leading man, albeit an unlikely one. His ability to carry a movie is now, well, kind of obvious. That goes for indie gems like Private Life and Win Win or acclaimed series like John Adams and Billions.
But two decades later, Sideways remains lodged in Giamatti’s memory. “I remember every second of making it,” he said on a recent afternoon in Manhattan. Wide as his travels have been since – Hamlet at Yale, Jerry Heller in Straight Outta Compton, seven years on Billions — he’s not experienced anything quite like the natural, ensemble feel of Sideways. Until, that is, he reteamed with Payne for The Holdovers.
“I’ve never done anything like it again,” says Giamatti, “except this is the closest thing to it.”
The Holdovers, playing in cinemas and available digitally, marks the long-in-coming reunion of Giamatti and Payne. Just as in Sideways, their alchemy produces something wry and moving. The setting — a 1970s boarding school — has moved from California sunshine to snowy New England, and from pinot to whisky.
“He’s just the best actor,” Payne adds. “He’s the finest actor. Not casting aspersions on others, I just think there’s nothing he cannot do.”
During the actors strike, Giamatti and his castmates (Randolph and Sessa have also been widely celebrated for their performances), weren’t able to promote the film. Normally, missing out on interviews wouldn’t be something Giamatti would lose sleep over.
Twenty years ago, Giamatti was surprisingly passed over for an Oscar nomination for Sideways. This time, many are predicting he’ll receive his first Academy Award nomination for best actor. (He was nominated for best-supporting actor in 2006 for Cinderella Man.)