By Ceara Kelly, Contributor
It’s hard to even know where to start when discussing a movie like I, Tonya. With phenomenal acting, amazingly accurate costumes and an impossibly perfect soundtrack, flaws are near impossible to find. Three Oscar nominations only further prove that I, Tonya is easily one of the best movies of 2017.
If you haven’t heard of Tonya Harding or her scandal, you must be living under a rock. The world’s most notorious figure skater was made famous not for being the first American woman (and only the second in the world) to land a triple axel in competition, or being the first to land two in a single competition, but for the mistakes of her ex-husband and the attack on America’s sweetheart, Nancy Kerrigan. I, Tonya follows Harding’s (Margot Robbie) life up to “the incident”, as the film lightly puts it, and its aftermath, leaving the audience wondering if the scandal was as black and white as it seemed.
Margot Robbie more than earned her best actress nomination after her emotional performance and dedication to the role. In just four months, she taught herself how to not just skate, but skate in the iconic style of Harding. Despite only ever skating to play recreational hockey, she manages to look as graceful as the original. While she may not have been doing the jumps herself, the use of body doubles and clever editing left every performance looking spectacular. Robbie’s skating was not the only sign of her dedication. The emotions and nuance she brought to Harding’s side of the tragedy were enough to leave even the biggest Nancy Kerrigan fan second guessing themselves.
The supporting cast was no different. Alison Janney and Sebastian Stan managed to transform into the horrors that were their characters to the point of being unrecognizable. The two play Harding’s emotionally abusive mother and her physically abusive ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, respectively. Despite being listed as supporting characters, the success of the film is as much because of them as it is Robbie.
While the movie is meant to be Harding’s truth, it is told through a series of fictional interviews with her and Gillooly. The juxtaposition of their stories adds to the mystery behind the attack and allows for a slightly darker strain of humor surrounding their relationship and involvement in the attack. They also open the door for multiple fourth walls breaks creating more laughs, but also discrediting both narrators reminding the viewer how unreliable every side of this story truly is.
The only thing that can really be said against the movie is that Margot Robbie doesn’t really look like Tanya Harding. Not only in build, but in age as well. Watching Robbie and Stan flounder around each other at the start of their relationship is funnier than it should be, since there’s no way that these two are meant to be just fifteen years old. Skating enthusiasts will also realize that the editing makes the famous triple axel look a turn short, but to most, it’s just as stunning as it was meant to be.
I, Tonya spends more time explaining Harding’s origins as a skater and the prejudice she faced in competition because of it. The film manages to do what the media never did during the aftermath of the scandal: it made Tonya Harding human. With such amazing performances by every actor, along with spectacular editing and writing, it is a crime that it lacks a nomination for Best Picture.
Watch the trailer here: