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“Lion” is emotional and sure to appeal to Oscar voters

Nicole Kidman LION
Getting an audience to cry, especially if that audience includes Academy members, is always a shortcut to success. This week, a prime awards contender is going to try and do just that in Lion. Also, Happy Thanksgiving to you all as well. In many ways, one can give thanks for films of this ilk finally hitting theaters. Now, this isn’t necessarily the cream of the Oscar crop, but it’s a solid entry into the prestige fare category that late November always brings. This is a movie you should become very familiar with, as voters are going to be in love with it. The question is just, to what degree will that be?

The film is a dramatized version of a true story. It centers on Saroo (Sunny Pawer), a five year old boy in Indian who gets lost one day when he accidentally gets on the wrong train. He winds up stranded on the streets of Calcutta, many miles away from home. For a period of time, he survives on the street, avoiding danger, before being adopted by a couple in Australia. The couple, Sue Brierley (Nicole Kidman) and John Brierley (David Wenham), love him as if he was their own. 25 years later, adult Saroo (Dev Patel) is happy and in a relationship with Lucy (Rooney Mara), but the past calls out to him. Using a new technology in Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and home. Garth Davis directs the adaptation by Luke Davies of the real Saroo Brierley’s memoir, while the rest of the cast includes Priyanka Bose, among others. Greig Fraser is behind the camera handling the cinematography, while the duo of Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran provide the score.

Even if I didn’t fall head over heels for this like some, I still think it’s very good stuff and undeniably emotional. I’ll freely admit that I cried at the end, and I think just about anyone will. Kidman and Patel are very strong, while the young Pawar is kind of a revelation. He carries the first act in a very real way. This is going to be an easy box for Oscar voters to check off in a number of places. It may struggle to win, as you’ll see below, but members of the Academy are going to respond to the emotions being put forward here. The message is a strong one.

Awards wise, Lion could wind up showing all over the place at the Oscars. To be sure, campaigns are being launched in Best Picture, Best Director (for Davis), Best Actor (for Pawar), Best Supporting Actor (for Patel), Best Supporting Actress (for Kidman and Mara), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Davies), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score. At the moment, the odds favor this one getting in for Picture, Supporting Actress for Kidman, and Adapted Screenplay for Davies. There’s a definite chance that Patel gets into the Supporting Actor field as well. Suffice to say, this is a real contender. There’s a day where it even becomes the chief Best Picture competition for La La Land. That’s no small feat, even if an upset win is probably unlikely.

Overall, starting tomorrow audiences can shed a tear with Lion and see what all the fuss is about. A likely nominee in Best Picture, as well as elsewhere, this is the reason we go to the movies. It makes us feel, and you leave the theater with a lump in your throat. This is heartwarming stuff, once again. It won’t make my top ten list or anything like that, but it’s strong cinema and will knock some people right over. Sleep on this one at your own risk. If you’re looking to see Academy Award contenders, this one is a must see…

Be sure to check out Lion, starting its theatrical run this Friday, and also, Happy Thanksgiving once again!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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