October 24, 2016
        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                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

TIFF ’10: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”

By Sean O’Connell

Hollywoodnews.com: We’re in the final stretch. The 35th Toronto International Film Festival begins Thursday, and we’ll be reporting from the wilds of the Great White North. That also means we only have just a few more entries in our “Road to Toronto” feature.

To read our previous preview columns, punch “TIFF” into our search window. Today, “The Damned United” director Tom Hooper recruits an all-star cast of Brits to illustrate how a king overcame his speech impediment.

The King’s Speech

The Plot: In 1936, unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) agrees to help King George VI (Colin Firth) overcome his dreadful stutter.

The Director: Tom Hooper (“The Damned United”)

The Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Jennifer Ehle, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall

The Scoop: It sounds like such a small story. But oh, that cast! Last weekend, “The King’s Speech” charmed the pants off audiences and Oscar pundits at Telluride. It will look to build on that positive buzz by pulling into Toronto for a series of screenings this week (though, as a fellow journo pointed out, it’s press screening up against Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” on Friday morning, making for an almost impossible decision). That’s not to say it’s all peaches and cream for “Speech.” Backlash is inevitable, as when Cinematical’s Eugene Novikov tweeted, “Everyone chill the fuck out. You’ve seen this movie 500x, just w/ misfit football team instead of the king of England.” But for every semi-negative reaction, there’s an overwhelmingly positive response, as when producer Frank Marshall reports via Twitter that “THE KING’S SPEECH emerging as one of the favorites from Telluride Festival…”

Awards Potential: If you believe the hype, the sky’s the limit for “Speech.” Best Picture sure seems possible, especially with Harvey Weinstein guiding the film’s Oscar campaign. Hooper might have a hard time cracking the top 5 for Best Director if his competition stays stiff (Eastwood, Boyle, Fincher, Aronofsky are just a few major names in the race). But from what I am hearing, Firth, Rush and Carter are fantastic, and all must be considered real contenders in their respective categories.

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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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