BAFTAs: Backstage with ‘Lion’ winners Dev Patel, screenwriter Luke Davies

Lion” pulled off upsets in two categories at the BAFTAs on Sunday — Supporting Actor (Dev Patel) and Adapted Screenplay (Luke Davies) — thereby boosting its hopes in those Oscar races in two weeks time. Patel prevailed over BAFTA (and Oscar) frontrunner Mahershala Ali, who had odds of 10/11 while Patel was placed second at 7/2. This surprise left the actor shaken even backstage where he readily admitted, “Oh man, I’m a little bit wobbly.” That down-to-earth quality coupled with his Britishly-polite happiness and modesty shone through as he apologized for saying the word ‘amazing’ too many times.

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“I really did not expect this one [holding up his BAFTA] was where everything changed, on home turf with my family in the audience. I used to watch this in Rayner’s Lane with my parents, at the end of the Piccadilly Line – so for all of us to be here in our black and whites, walking the carpets and for me to be able to win, it’s kind of an outer body experience.”

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Asked how he connected with a film which revolves around the theme of family, and the Oscar-hopeful explained how he is similar to Saroo, the person he played, in that respect as family is everything to him: “My drive is family. It’s the image of my family which makes me step out into the spotlight and just do it. It’s the same with Saroo – it was the drive to connect to his mother, his family, that consumed him. This film means everything to me. This film is about mothers and sons and my mum saw an audition in the Metro Newspaper on the train and she dragged me to an open casting which was ‘Skins’ and I got it and now, ten years on, we’re here at the BAFTAS and it’s, again, amazing. Amazing. I need to stop saying amazing.”

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Patel winning may just be another case of BAFTA rewarding a home-grown talent or it could be the start of a ground swell of Oscar momentum. Is Ali, who lost the Golden Globe and now the BAFTA, really the Oscar-favorite we all think him to be? Patel is ranked third in our Oscars odds chart, with 25/1. Ali, with odds of 2/11, is still  the frontrunner, while Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”, despite being snubbed everywhere else, is second at 22/1.

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Davies defied the odds to beat favorite Eric Heisserer (who wrote “Arrival”).  This love for “Lion” should make our Oscar experts think twice as Davies is last in their predictions with 66/1 odds. “Moonlight,” which was placed in Original Screenplay at the BAFTAS, leads with 2/11, followed by  “Hidden Figures” (16/1), “Arrival” (20/1) and “Fences” (33/1).

Backstage at the BAFTAs, Davies discussed the momentum building for “Lion”: “That feels the best thing of all. It’s not just the word of mouth [in the industry], but also the word-of-mouth outside of people who are in the film industry – with lines around the block. In particular, the thing I’ve been experiencing the last couple of weeks is that more and more men are describing how not only that the film makes them cry but that it makes them not feel freaked out about crying in a public place. If you don’t cry in this movie, you’re going to basically need chiropractic care for a couple of weeks. I’ve now seen it 15 times and I cry every time. That shouldn’t happen because I wrote it, I know what happens, but I think the reason for that is Garth Davis – that he made the experience anew again for anyone involved with it.”

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