Part 12: I, Tonya

“It should have been about the skating.  But you didn’t really care about that, did you?” – Tonya Harding



Best Best Lead Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Film Editing

Basic Plot

Tonya.  As in Tony Price, formerly Harding.  As in the gal who knew the guy with the crowbar.  As in the reason we all have Nancy Kerrigan’s “WHHHHY, WHYYYYYYYYYY” screams etched into our minds.

This is her story (I said that in my best Law & Order voice).

My Largely Irrelevant Commentary

Well this is certainly a timely post as we are a few days into the Winter Olympics and the first figure skating event has wrapped up and my new favorite technical term is twizzle.  The skating has been a bit all over the place thus far – falling, downgraded jumping, near nip-slips, a triple something jump of the ages, arms in the air while jumping, twizzle masterpieces, and great debuts and comeback stories. The commentators are also just bizarre – they need to zip it every once in a while and just watch rather than being super critical every waking second.  It’s like the Hunger Games of figure skating.  Like I said…all over the place.

But with the all-over-the-placeness of the skating and the subsequent, nonsensical scoring, I am reminded that there’s a reason I prefer the snow sports.  For at least when there’s a fall it is clearly reflected in the scoring and/or you are out of the competition or medal contention.  And don’t start with the “degree of difficulty” bull crap (bear with me, I’m on my soap box).  Cause if you’re doing something super difficult and tank it, you don’t need to be given ‘participation’ points.  This is the Olympics – go big (and LAND IT) or go home (WHEN YOU DON’T).

I swear the figure skating scoring was invented by a Millennial parent.  Because everyone gets a trophy (in this case ‘merit’ points) for participating.  Ugh!

I digress…

The Acting

Margot Robbie.  Margot Robbie plays Tonya Harding in the movie.  And if you have ever seen any of the real Tonya Harding – pre and post whack heard round the world and broken laces incidents – interviews, I think we can all agree that Robbie executes the role so well it’s almost scary.  She’s perfectly blunt and off-kilter. I think it was an Oscar-nom worthy performance for sure as she really mastered the art of physical acting. I’m not sure she wins because I felt like her very good performance was out-shined by Allison Janney in the role of her mother.  She is in one of the toughest categories this year with a lot of really fantastic performances, so I’d put her in the middle of the pack.

Allison Janney.  I’ve been a fan of hers since West Wing – one of her best roles ever, in my opinion – and I think she’s usually pretty solid in most of what she does.  Janney plays Tonya Harding’s harsh, complex and cruel mother.  And wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.  Her character is cringeworthy to the point where it’s comical (which I assume was the point – even though you feel like a horrible person laughing at scenes of abuse).  She’s brutal and sharp and nails the crisp one-liners.  And she has a pet parrot that eats out of her ear.  Janney was a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination, and this mean-mommy could take the win here in what I consider to be a very tight three-person race.


Supporting cast.  The remainder of the cast, notably the two guys that play the crowbar bearer and his get-away buddy, was solid as well.  Those two play the best dumb criminals and their absurdity (because of how stupid they are) is brought out so well by the actors playing those roles.  They are laughable in a good way.

The Film

I was a little surprised this movie didn’t get a Best Picture nomination, after all there are 9 films nominated, so what’s another.  I think it could have been nominated in a couple of other categories as well, like Costume design (seriously). And although most of us know and remember the story, what this movie adds is everything that Tonya Harding lost as compared to the others involved in the incident – her punishment was extremely harsh compared to those who actively participated the attack.

Whether you believe she was involved or not, and whether you like her or not (and she’s hard to like, let’s be honest – she’s all over the place and she’s hard to trust because she contradicts herself more times than you can count during any given interview), you don’t come away from the movie without feeling somewhat sorry for her.  She was fighting an uphill battle from childhood on.

Bottom line – this is a well done movie based on a true story (as true as it can be with Tonya Harding, the master of contradictions, indirectly scripting most of the plot).  It is entertaining in a cringeworthy, absurdly amusing kind of way.  It’s worth the watch simply for the performances of Robbie and Janney and the two playing the idiot criminals.

My one burning question – what does Nancy Kerrigan think?

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