‘I, Tonya’ reviews: Margot Robbie gives ‘the performance of a lifetime’ in ‘Goodfellas on ice’

“I, Tonya” opened December 8 with mounting awards buzz for its star, Margot Robbie. She has already earned Best Actress nominations from the Critics’ Choice, Independent Spirit, and Gotham Awards for her lead performance as figure skater Tonya Harding, who was the center of scandal in 1994 when her rival Nancy Kerrigan was attacked in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. But director Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”) and screenwriter Steven Rogers don’t opt for a straightforward account. They turn the story into a mockumentary told from various conflicting points of view. And critics are responding positively to that approach.

As of this writing “I, Tonya” has a MetaCritic score of 78 and 90% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviewers are calling it “genuinely electric,” “breathtakingly alive,” “hilarious and gut-punching.” It’s “‘Goodfellas’ on ice,” and Robbie gives “the performance of a lifetime.” The actress is a “real revelation” and a “powerhouse.”

As of this writing, 16 of the Expert film journalists we’ve polled are predicting a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Robbie, and nine Experts are predicting a Best Supporting Actress victory for Allison Janney as her abusive mother. Do you agree they’ll earn nominations and potentially even win? Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow movie fans in our forums.

Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly): “There’s something genuinely electric about the narrative’s headlong tumble into madness. The skating scenes, too, are thrilling, but Robbie is the real revelation. In a performance that goes far beyond bad perms and tabloid punchlines, she’s a powerhouse: a scrappy, defiant subversion of the American dream.”

April Wolfe (Village Voice): “Those expecting camp or catfights won’t find them in Gillespie’s movie, which instead offers thoughtful and somewhat objective critiques, plus much seriously dark humor that’ll elicit a lot of uncomfortable gasps of laughter — and invites you to ponder difficult truths.”

Christy Lemire (RogerEbert.com): “It’s ‘GoodFellas’ on ice—darkly comic and often just plain dark, but always breathtakingly alive. Despite the colorful glitz and cheese of the figure-skating setting, ‘I, Tonya’ has an unmistakably tumultuous air from the very start. And at the center of the storm is Margot Robbie in the performance of a lifetime as Harding.”

Alissa Wilkinson (Vox): “Craig Gillespie’s take on Tonya’s story, the hilarious and gut-punching ‘I, Tonya,’ is a nearly pitch-perfect black comedy that distills the sensational story into two potent insights very relevant to 2017. It’s a movie about class, and it’s a movie about the nature of truth. And somehow it’s also a supremely entertaining sports movie.”

Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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