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In Appreciation Of Dev Patel

The Golden Globe nominations for 2017 were announced last week, effectively kicking off the months-long film awards season. Among the most pleasant inclusions was a nod to 26-year-old Dev Patel as a Best Supporting Actor contender for his role in Lion. Despite a highly successful career up to this point in his young life Patel still somehow feels unappreciated, so it was a pleasure for many fans to see him nominated.

In support of this first-time honour for Patel, we’re looking back at some of the roles that got him where he is today.

Slumdog Millionaire

This 2008 masterpiece was the film that put Patel on the map. Patel plays the part of Jamal, an unfortunate but exceptional Indian teenager who seizes the opportunity to win wealth beyond his dreams and pursue the love of his life when he appears on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Patel was surprisingly snubbed from major award consideration, despite the fact that the movie became an Oscar winner.

The truly exceptional thing about his performance is that Patel makes us buy into a story of chance and good fortune while playing a well-known game that many of us would like to master. As it turns out there are actually more than a few ways for fans to improve their chances on the popular game show. A write-up of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire strategies pointed out that general knowledge isn’t the only skill needed for those hoping to win the big prize. There are other factors that can help a contestant succeed such lifelines, strategies, and some stat-based logic. However, Slumdog goes a more dramatic route as Patel earnestly portrays a boy reaching into the depths of his own experiences in order to answer an improbable series of questions that unfolds the story of his life along the way.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

It’s difficult for any actor to stand out in an ensemble cast, but that’s just what Patel does in this 2011 dramedy. Playing the role of Sonny, a young man in charge of a retirement hotel in India, Patel is responsible for a large amount of the charm the film was praised for. It’s difficult not to get carried away with an impressive cast that includes the likes of Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, and Tom Wilkinson, but Patel more than holds his own. It was this role that proved he was more than just a one-hit wonder following Slumdog Millionaire.

The Newsroom

Just as many major actors started to dip their toes into prestige television, Patel landed a role as Neal Sampat on HBO’s The Newsroom. While Sampat wasn’t one of the main characters of the show, he was a mainstay during its brief but impactful three-season run.

Patel recently spoke on the challenge of working with Sorkin, saying that he had to read each episode’s script about 30 times before he could truly understand the rhythm of the words. The extra work paid off as Patel wound up doing the character justice. Sampat comes off as earnest and relatable, while exhibiting the trademark off-the-charts intelligence of most every Sorkin protagonist.


Then there’s Lion, which may wind up being the film that catapult’s Patel to true A-list status. As our review made clear, we didn’t think this film was perfect. In certain ways, the direction missed the mark and failed to fully deliver on a challenging premise. Still, Patel’s portrayal of the protagonist, Saroo (an orphaned boy in search of details about his past), is absolutely spectacular.

An actor who once showed a great deal of charm and a natural intuition for what an audience might want has turned into a much deeper and more nuanced performer. Patel may or may not start 2017 off with a Golden Globe (or an Oscar nomination), but this is a role that definitely deserves to be celebrated.

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