Paul Giamatti re-teams with ‘Sideways’ director Alexander Payne for this wonderful 1970-set film that takes place at a New England boarding school. Giamatti is the outcast Professor Hunham, made to stay behind over Christmas break with any students who must remain on campus. What follows is a charming and absolutely delightful comedy-drama in the vein of ‘Dead Poets Society’ and ‘Wonder Boys’. The whip-smart script from first-time screenwriter David Hemingson is a thing of brilliance, and co-stars Da’Vine Joy Randolph and newcomer Dominic Sessa round out the ingredients of what’s destined to become a perennial holiday watch… and may just be the best film of the year.

5/5 stars