Cast: Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman
Director: Garth Davis (Top of the Lake)
Additional nominations: Kidman for Best Supporting Actress; Patel for Best Supporting Actor; Best Cinematography; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Original Score
Our take: The story of Saroo Brierley, who was separated from his family at the age of 5 and, 30 years later, used Google Maps to find his mother in a small Indian town, could be a frothy, inspirational drama with a Hallmark card message. Davis imbues the dramatization with terror, rage, and grace. Lion is the kind of Oscar bait that actually hooks.
Will it win? Murmurs from Hollywood insiders suggest we shouldn't underestimate Lion as an undervalued contender. With support from Harvey Weinstein, the Don King of Oscar prizefighters, this gem could surprise.