Oscar 2017: Nicole Kidman, Supporting Actress for Lion

Garth Davis’s much buzzed about feature debut, Lion, likely to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, is based on a fascinatingly true Internet story.

Among the best elements in the film is the quietly understated nut emotionally powerful turn from Nicole Kidman, who should earn her first Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.

This will be the Aussie born actress’s fourth Oscar nod.  As is well known, Kidman is a Best Actress winner for the 2002 The Hours, and two time Best Actress nominee, for the 2001 Moulin Rouge and for the 2010 Rabbit Hole.


The tale concerns an Indian boy who got lost at a railway station in Madhya Pradesh, and accidentally boarded a train making the 930-mile trip to Kolkata. He ended up abandoned and alone, then got adopted by a white couple some 5,000 miles away in Australia.  Twenty years later, as a grown up, he searched for his birth mother in India by using Google Earth and miraculously found her.

The film stars Nicole Kidman and David Wenham as the adoptive parents, Sunny Pawar (who is now 8) as the boy, Dev Patel as his grown up version, and Rooney Mara as the girlfriend.


Wenham, Patel and Kidman as the real-life Brierley family. Patel pledged “to go deep” with the part, gaining muscle and working with a dialect coach to convincingly portray the athletic Aussie.
Dev Patel with his adoptive parents (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman)


The boy in the story, Saroo Brierley, grew up to be a businessman in Hobart, Tasmania. After his remarkable tale was discovered and published in the local press, he became one of the most popular guys in Australia. “It just sort of snowballed globally,” Brierley recalls of the reaction to the article. “Penguin Random House, Hachette and HarperCollins were on to me to write a book. Then all of a sudden people were wanting the rights to the movie.”

The core of the story is about a son’s lifelong quest to be reunited with his biological mom. The undeniable emotional story set off a bidding war at the Cannes Film Fest in 2014, where The Weinstein Company beat out Fox Searchlight with a $12 million offer.

Three years later, Lion world premiered to great acclaim at the 2016 Toronto Film Fest.

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman signed on to play Sue Brierley, Saroo’s devoted adoptive mother, after reading the script just once. She says the tale resonated deeply with her own experiences — both as an Australian and an adoptive mother; while married to Tom Cruise, the couple adopted two children.


“She had the vision that she was going to adopt,” Kidman says of her character. “It wasn’t about giving birth to a child for her, it was about adopting. And I thought that was a really important message.”