As I wrote in a 9.30 piece called “Betty Ann Brockovich“, Tony Goldwyn‘s Conviction (Fox Searchlight, 10.15) is on the rote and humdrum side. It’s one of those come-from-behind stories about a working class woman (Hilary Swank) with a fairly demanding life who achieves the seemingly impossible task of….zzzzzzz. Sorry. Where I was I?

I love how Marshall Fine tries to turn it all around and give Conviction points for being plain and unpretentious and using “straightforward storytelling.”

“There’s no equivocation here — you know who you’re supposed to be rooting for right from the beginning. And the movie tells the story from start to finish, without pausing to show off the director’s stylistic chops at the expense of the film. Linear plots – what a concept!

“Yet there currently is an arm of film criticism that disdains exactly that: movies that tell a story from start to finish, about characters who are human, identifiable and even (perhaps especially) likable. You can throw a stone at any press screening in Manhattan (or any of a number of urban centers) and hit more than one critic for whom that description is their idea of a movie that is stodgy, old-fashioned and not worth their time.”

Fine goes too far, however, when he calls Conviction “an old-fashioned underdog drama in the best sense of the term, the kind of crowd-pleaser that The Blind Side was last year.” It may be the same “kind” of film, but it isn’t as involving or well assembled or top-flighty as The Blind Side — not by a damn sight. Fine then concludes by saying Conviction “could have Oscar potential.” Oh, yeah?