Director: Craig Gillespie
Producers: Tom Ackerley, Margot Robbie, Steven Rogers, and Bryan Unkeless
Writer: Steven Rogers
Cinematography: Nicolas Karakatsanis
Editor: Tatiana S. Riegel
Release Date: December 8, 2017
Run-time: 119 minutes
FILM SYNOPSIS: Despite the abuse she suffers at the hands of her overbearing mother, ice skater Tonya Harding matures into an accomplished athlete, becoming the first American woman to execute a triple axel in competition. Tonya is rarely given the respect she deserves, prompting her ex-husband to concoct a plot to help her win at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Also a producer on the film, actress Margot Robbie does an excellent job of portraying the world-class ice skater Tonya Harding, taking the character all the way back to her teenage years. As much as she embodies the character, the most impressive part of her performance is the amount of ice-skating she actually does. The only part of the film that continually took me out of the film was the “face replacing” on the actual figure skater. It’s not that I think Margot should have learned to do the impossible triple axle that Harding was known for, but I do feel like the CGI could have been a little better done. If “War for the Planet of the Apes” can make Andy Serkis into an actual primate, I feel like they should be able to put Margot’s face on a figure skater’s body just a bit better than they did. Margot definitely deserves the nomination, but winning could be a different story, as she faces Frances McDormand and Saoirse Ronan, who have so much more heat behind them at the moment. Even Sally Hawkins probably edges in front of Margot, even though her performance is fairly solid throughout and probably one of her best showings to date.
Allison Janney, on the other hand, is the favorite to win at the moment, having brought home most of the awards she’s been nominated for thus far including the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild awards. Playing the abusive mother of Tonya, she really does live and breathe this role, down to the inflection in her voice. Her main competition is another overbearing mother in Laurie Metcalf’s Marion McPherson, from “Lady Bird,” although that’s about where the comparisons cease. Neither Janney nor Metcalf have ever been nominated for an Academy Award let alone won, so this will be a big win for either of them, Metcalf in her sixties and Janney almost there.
To finish out the female trifecta for this film, the editor, Tatiana S. Riegel, is also nominated. And she’s got her work cut out for her, facing three editors whose films have the Best Picture nomination and one, “Baby Driver,” that only got in to the technical awards. The front-runner in this category has to be “Dunkirk,” which edits three different timelines together, all of which are happening in the course of different time spans, from hours, to days, to weeks. I would even say that “Baby Driver” is a bigger editing feat than “I, Tonya,” as it lives and dies by cutting to the soundtrack. Tatiana does do an excellent job of masking where Margot Robbie begins and the real figure skater doing all the choreography ends, with the help of the not-so-well-done CGI effects as well. She also goes into detail about the difficulties and pleasures of dealing with sharp tonal shifts in the film, going from serious and tragic to darkly comedic and “absurdly funny.”
Originally, I had felt Steven Rogers might get nominated for Best Original Screenplay as well. But that category is so stacked this year, it simply could not find its way in. Had it gotten that nomination, I also felt like it could have pulled off a Best Picture nomination as well, seeing as the writing and acting categories usually end up pairing to gain a film its Best Picture nomination. Look at “American Hustle.” Granted it got 10 nominations that year, but with the acting, editing, and writing awards (plus a few more), it found itself in the running for Best Picture. With “I, Tonya” only ending up with three nominations, however, it sort of lost its chance.
CHARACTER SYNOPSIS: As Tonya Harding, Margot Robbie plays the figure skater who first became famous for her athletic prowess and then infamous for her possible complicity in an attack on her rival.
“LaVona Fay Golden”
CHARACTER SYNOPSIS: Allison Janney plays LaVona, the abusive mother who pushes her daughter, Tonya Harding, to become a world-class figure skater even while she destroys Tonya’s self-esteem.
TATIANA S. RIEGEL
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