I hadn’t paid any attention to Wonder (Lionsgate, 11.17), a delicate family drama in the vein of Peter Bogdanovich‘s Mask, until today. But now I’m on it, and for good reason.

Based on three relatively recent novels by R.J. Palacio, it’s about the journey of a young kid with a facial deformity (Jacob Tremblay) as he acclimates to school, and how his parents (Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson) and extended family help him along.

Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts during filming of Wonder.

Jacon Tremblay

This kind of story can be cloying or worse in the wrong hands, but I was sensing from the brief trailer shown today that director Steven Chbosky (The Perks of Being A Wallflower) has handled things with restraint and the right kind of emphasis. Maybe.

Three things got my attention. One, it’s obviously going to be an emotionally affecting drama — I could feel the pangs right away. Two, a Lionsgate spokesperson mentioned that Wonder has gotten the highest test scores of any Lionsgate film ever. And three, Wonder‘s original release date, 4.7.17, was changed last February to 11.17, which means Lionsgate knows it has the Oscar nuts.

Who knows how good it’ll turn out to actually be, but I can almost guarantee you that the Academy members who nominated Garth Davis‘s heart-tugging Lion for six Oscars (including Best Picture) are going to give it up for Wonder.

Palacio’s books were adapted by Steven Conrad.

Wonder‘s costars include Mandy Patinkin, Sonia Braga, Millie Davis, Izabela Vidovic, Danielle Rose Russell and Noah Jupe.