Dev Patel (‘Lion’): Top 4 reasons why he’ll win the Oscar

When Dev Patels name was called out at the BAFTAs on Sunday night, the star of “Lion” leant forward in his chair, head in hands. The vast majority of our experts, editors and users (myself included) also had their heads in their hands as well given that we had predicted Mahershala Ali of “Moonlight” to win Best Supporting Actor.

In the end, “Moonlight” was snubbed in all four of its races at the BAFTAs. Ali’s failure to lock down his category has allowed Patel to sneak in with a real chance of Oscar glory.”Lion” is that rare crowdpleaser that is also admired by critics and this first film by Garth Davis is gaining traction at just the right time. The BAFTAs took place the day before Oscar voting began. While Ali has been the favorite all season and is currently at the top of our odds charts at 2/9, Patel is rising fast and could win the Oscar for the following four reasons.

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1. Rave reviews
Patel’s now a proven actor, in both leading and supporting roles (including, of course, 2008 Best Picture champ “Slumdog Millionaire”), and many critics have called his work in “Lion” career-best. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter raved, “a tremendously moving performance from Dev Patel is the resilient soul of ‘Lion.’ He does arguably his most nuanced and heartfelt screen work to date.” Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post agreed, “this may be Patel’s best performance” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says his “strong, soulful, Oscar-buzzed performance cuts deep” while IndieWire’s Eric Kohn enthused, “Patel delivers his most intricate performance since “Slumdog Millionaire.””

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2. Remember Mark Rylance
Last year, Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) was the frontrunner in Best Supporting Actor, scooping up most of the precursors. However, he ended up losing to Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies.” The only other award Rylance won? The BAFTA, just like Patel. Stallone won two out of the four major awards for Best Supporting Actor; the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award. He lost at SAG to Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”) and at the BAFTAs. Ali has also gone two for four: the Critics Choice, like Stallone, and the SAG. Ali lost the BAFTA to Patel and the Golden Globe to wildcard Aaron Taylor- Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals”).

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3. Timing
Both “Lion” and “Moonlight” play around with timelines and both present their main characters at different ages, being portrayed by different actors. Patel isn’t in the first half of the film but is the focus of the second, while Ali is the exact opposite: present in the first half but completely absent in the second.

Yes, Ali is seen as the ‘soul’ of “Moonlight” but he doesn’t have the film’s main role. He plays Juan, who is seen as the father figure to the main character of Chiron. Although Ali makes an impact in his scenes, his absence in the rest of the film may lead some voters to forget about him – especially when so much more emotion is brought to the story through the older incarnations of Chiron.

Patel is the main character of “Lion,” playing the older version of Saroo Brierly. That makes his supporting performance seem more important, particularly compared to Ali’s definitive supporting character. That Patel isn’t in the first half of the film doesn’t matter. Because he’s in the entirety of the second, is the story’s primary focus and gets that big, crucial, emotional release at the end, it is impossible to forget Patel.

4. The Weinstein factor
In recent times, Harvey Weinstein has been thanked more times than God in Oscar acceptance speeches. He has produced Best Picture champs “Shakespeare in Love” and “The King’s Speech,” as well as Oscar-winning fare such as “The Fighter,” “Carol,” “The Imitation Game,” “The Aviator,” “The Reader,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “Django Unchained.” EGOT champ Mel Brooks riffed on his power while accepting the BAFTA Fellowship: “Thanks to Harvey Weinstein for butting out of this award.”

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6 thoughts on “Dev Patel (‘Lion’): Top 4 reasons why he’ll win the Oscar

  1. Jacob Skarkisian, you are oversimplifying this. Mark Rylance last year had won several regional critics prizes prior to his BAFTA and Oscar wins. Plus, he was the only Supporting Actor nominee that year who had hit all four of the top four major precursors: Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, and Critics Choice. SAG winner Idris Elba was snubbed by the Oscars that year. You are pretending that Sylvester Stallone was nominated at SAG and BAFTA when he was not and you are consistently ignoring critics awards outside of the top four major precursors. Sylvester Stallone had been snubbed by BAFTA and SAG, making it nearly impossible for him to win the Oscar. In this unpredictable race, it only made sense to redirect the focus on to the one person who had hit all four of the top four major precursors and even won one of them: Mark Rylance. This year, the SAG winner, Mahershala Ali, is very much nominated at the Oscars. is Patel’s first major win of the season. He still doesn’t have the momentum to take down Ali, who has won SAG, Critics Choice, and swept the critics prizes. Sure, Ali lost the Golden Globe to Aaron Taylor-Johnson. But Aaron Taylor-Johnson was snubbed by SAG, Critics Choice and Oscars. And Golden Globes have no overlap with the Academy anyway. So regardless of who won the Golden Globe, Ali’s loss was by no means a deathblow. In 2008, Mickey Rourke defeated Sean Penn for Best Actor at the Golden Globes and BAFTA, but it was the latter who would win the Oscar on the strength of his victories at SAG, Critics Choice, Los Angeles Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics and several other regional critics awards. In 2013, Lupita Nyong’o lost Golden Globe and SAG to Jennifer Lawrence, but prevailed at SAG and Critics Choice and repeated at the Oscars. I really feel Ali has it locked up, regardless of whether or not you want him to win.

    1. Excellent point, last year Mark Rylance also won for playing a real person, unlike Stallone’s fictional Rocky Balboa character!

      Moonlight lost SAG Ensemble, ACE Eddie, DGA (where Lion won the award for first-time director), ASC (where Lion DP Greig Fraser won), the PGA, the DGA, and got COMPLETELY shut out at Bafta.

      Lion as a movie in general seems to have significantly more passion than Moonlight. I think that’s obvious.

  2. I think Dev deserves the win, for Several Reasons. While Ali did a fine job in Moonlight, ALL of the Actors in Moonlight were just as good as he was. All were worthy of Nominations. His role to me was NOT the emotional heart of Moonlight, the Chivon character was the emotional heart of Moonlight, and all 3 actors that played him were Wonderful and JUST AS GOOD as Ali was. Barry Jenkins will be the sole winner for “Moonlight” and since it’s his baby he will reap the award for putting that film all together.

    However, Dev Patel carried the entire second half of the movie “Lion” and was indeed the Emotional Heart of that film. His role was far more important to Lion, than Ali’s role was to Moonlight. Add in Patel’s lack of a nomination for the 8 Oscar Winning “Slumdog Millionaire” and his being the only the third Indian Actor to be nominated which gives Oscar yet more Diversity, I am betting on an upset in this Category. I think Dev will pull an upset, but is also Deserving of the win.

  3. I still think Ali’s got this! Dev Patel was pretty good in ‘Lion’ and winning a BAFTA was EXPECTED mainly because he’s British and BAFTA do award their kind but I HONESTLY don’t think he will win the Oscars! I wouldn’t be mad if he does win but I really think Ali’s got this!

  4. I’m predicting am upset as well. This is the most interesting category and there is usually an upset in supporting category e.g. Bacall , Eddie Murphy , Burt Reynolds, Stallone etc etc. Dev for the win !!!! Lions only chance of getting at least one statuette !

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