Movies are an offspring of plays. What started on theater stages can now step into a wider world. Locations can remove the boundaries and improve an immersive story, but the human performances are still what matters most. Words have power regardless of setting. “Fences,” directed by Denzel Washington, is one of the finest and most seamless examples of the power of performance being translated from the stage to the screen.
In a tonal shift from the trumpeted and showy norm of Oscar bait, “Lion” is yet another performance-driven dramatic film of 2016 entering this holiday season favoring prudence over theatrics. The feature film debut of award-winning commercial director Garth Davis, is a love letter instead of a power ballad that delivers genuine emotional heft all on its own, without the need to manufacture it for the sake of a movie.