Oscar Nominations were announced Tuesday morning, and notably absent from the list of Best Picture nominees was Steven Rogers-penned and Craig Gillespie-directed “I, Tonya.” This is a mistake. I saw all the nominated movies, and “I, Tonya” was by far the most fun I had in the theater. It also happened to be excellent.
When I first heard about the film project at the beginning of last year, I couldn’t wait to see it. A dark comedy about Tonya Harding? I felt like I’d been waiting my whole life to hear that movie was being made. My expectations were high, and when I finally got to see the finished product in December, I couldn’t have been more satisfied.
I am pleased to see that Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are nominated in their respected categories. They worked hard in that movie, as did the rest of the outstanding cast. What I saw was a well-constructed story told through strong performances, and excellent screenwriting and directing. The filmmakers recognized the humor in their subject matter and did an outstanding job creating a dark comedy inspired by a true story. The movie is great, and deserves to be the tenth nominee for best picture. There was even room for it, as the limit of best picture nominations is ten, and this year only nine nominations in the category were released.
It’s hard to ignore the parallels of the Tonya Harding’s life and this Oscar snub. Tonya was the poor, frizzy-haired girl who skated to heavy metal songs, and “I, Tonya” is the dark comedy biopic which succeeded in its mission to give a scorned skater her moment of redemption. It doesn’t look like the other contenders, so it would be the dark horse in a field of “pretty” movies.
Included in the nominees this year are several I would describe as “beautifully shot,” “moving,” and “thought-provoking.” One included a graphic description of inter-species copulation between a lady and a fish-man, which I can only describe as “haunting.”
Still, of the nine, with the possible exception of Jordan Peele’s horror thriller “Get Out,” nothing seems out of place. These are the movies everyone expected to be there. They are the Nancy Kerrigans and Tara Lipinskis of 2017 cinema—shiny, pretty, with excellent costumes.
I don’t mean to say that I didn’t enjoy some of the other movies in this category, but there isn’t one that I’m clamoring to see again. I loved “Lady Bird.” I was so impressed with Greta Gerwig’s story-telling, and her ability to connect with her millennial audience in such a meaningful way. I called my mom the moment I left the theater. Gary Oldman crushed his attempt at portraying Sir Winston Churchill, and “The Darkest Hour” is now in my top five World War II movies of all time. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was outstanding. I loved the way Martin McDonagh made every character so dynamic, and so unpredictable.
There are a lot of wonderful things I could say about other nominees as well, but there’s no way I would say that “I, Tonya” does not deserve to be recognized alongside them. It has all the right ingredients, it worked just as hard, it nailed its triple axel—why doesn’t it get the recognition from the judges?