October 25, 2016
        Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams        

TIFF ’10: Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell face a “Conviction”

By Sean O’Connell

Hollywoodnews.com: We continue to preview anticipated titles screening at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival in our “Road to Toronto” feature.

The fest kicks off on Sept. 9, and HollywoodNews.com will be on the ground bringing you reviews, interviews, and a clearer glimpse at the ever-shifting Oscar race.

To read our previous preview columns, punch “TIFF” into our search window. Today, a two-time Oscar winner puts herself through law school in an attempt to overturn her brother’s conviction.


The Plot: When Betty Anne Waters’ (Hilary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, the Massachusetts wife and mother of two dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction.

The Director: Tony Goldwyn

The Cast: Hilary Swank, Minnie Driver, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Loren Dean

The Scoop: So many successful dramas have found their inspirations in true-life situations, and few stories are more powerful or courageous than Waters’ actual struggle. The lawyer lives in New England and continues to work to free wrongfully convicted criminals. Meanwhile, on the cinematic side of “Conviction,” Hilary Swank strikes me as a wise choice to breathe life into Betty Anne’s blue-collar determination, and Sam Rockwell should shine as Kenny. I’d almost fear that “Conviction” could tip into movie-of-the-week territory, but Goldwyn has shown in “A Walk on the Moon” and the recent “Last Kiss” that he’s fully capable of avoiding any such melodramatic pitfalls.

Awards Potential: It’s rarely smart to bet against Swank, one of the few two-time Oscar-winning actors still working in the industry. If her portrayal of Waters comes anywhere close to Maggie Fitzgerald (“Million Dollar Baby”) or Brandon Teena (“Boys Don’t Cry”), then a third nomination could be in the cards. Also, don’t count out Rockwell, who has shown tremendous range on screen – he stole chunks of “Iron Man 2” away from Robert Downey Jr. — and has a juicy role mapped out for him as Betty Anne’s imprisoned sibling.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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