Tag Archives: Sebastian Stan

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 6th Edition

What a difference a week makes! Last Thursday, I gave you my first initial predictions in the major categories for the Oscars. Since then – we’ve seen a slew of pictures screened at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals.

Films like A Star Is Born, Roma, First Man, and The Favourite solidified their status as contenders. Others like Boy Erased and The Front Runner availed themselves as possibilities, but not slam dunks. Others like Destroyer and The Old Man & The Gun likely took themselves out of the running in Best Picture, but shined a light on their actors that could receive nods.

And here’s the thing… by the time I do my third round of predictions next Thursday, we will have lots more pictures screened at the Toronto Film Festival, which begins today. That includes such high-profile titles as If Beale Street Could Talk, Beautiful Boy, Widows, and more.

Here’s how I have the key races ranked by possibility of nomination at this point in time!

Best Picture

1. If Beale Street Could Talk (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Roma (PR: 4)

4. First Man (PR: 5)

5. Beautiful Boy (PR: 3)

6. The Favourite (PR: 13)

7. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Boy Erased (PR: 7)

9. Backseat (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. The Front Runner (PR: 14)

11. Black Panther (PR: 12)

12. Peterloo (PR: 9)

13. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

14. Widows (PR: 11)

15. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 16)

16. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 17)

17. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 22)

18. Green Book (PR: 21)

19. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 24)

20. Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

21. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 23)

22. July 22 (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 19)

24. The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

25. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Old Man & The Gun

Destroyer

Ben Is Back

Best Director

1. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 2)

3. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 4)

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 11)

7. Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

8. Adam McKay, Backseat (PR: 7)

9. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

10. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner (PR: 14)

11. Mike Leigh, Peterloo (PR: 9)

12. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 13)

14. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

15. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 3)

3. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

4. Christian Bale, Backseat (PR: 6)

5. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 4)

7. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 5)

8. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 7)

9. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 8)

10. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 13)

11. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 10)

12. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 12)

13. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here (PR: 14)

14. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Rory Kinnear, Peterloo

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

3. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 6)

4. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 9)

5. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 3)

9. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

11. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 10)

12. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 15)

13. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 8)

14. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 13)

15. Joanna Kulig, Cold War

Dropped Out:

Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 1)

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

3. Sam Rockwell, Backseat (PR: 3)

4. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

5. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 7)

7. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 9)

10. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 13)

11. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

12. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 11)

13. David Tennant, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 14)

14. Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick (PR: Not Ranked)

15. J.K. Simmons, The Front Runner (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Sebastian Stan, Destroyer

Topher Grace, BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

1. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 3)

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

3. Amy Adams, Backseat (PR: 5)

4. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner (PR: 10)

5. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

7. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

9. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 12)

10. Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy (PR: 7)

11. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 11)

12. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 9)

13. Blythe Danner, What They Had (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 8)

15. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Tatiana Maslany, Destroyer

Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

4. Boy Erased (PR: 3)

5. First Man (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

7. The Front Runner (PR: 8)

8. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

9. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 7)

10. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 9)

11. Disobedience (PR: 13)

12. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 15)

13. Widows (PR: 12)

14. Wildlife (PR: 14)

15. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Old Man & The Gun

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 5)

2. Roma (PR: 1)

3. Backseat (PR: 3)

4. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

5. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. Green Book (PR: 11)

7. Peterloo (PR: 2)

8. Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ben is Back (PR: 8)

10. A Quiet Place (PR: 13)

11. Isle of Dogs (PR: Not Ranked)

12. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 9)

13. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 6)

14. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 14)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Destroyer

Colette

Check back next Thursday for updated predictions!

Oscar Watch: Destroyer

Going into the Telluride Film Festival, one storyline was the possibility of Nicole Kidman garnering Oscar buzz for two roles. In the Supporting realm, her part in Boy Erased seemed like a somewhat safe bet for attention. That film’s mixed reaction has brought her inclusion in that race as more of a question mark.

When it comes to lead Actress, Kidman stars in the crime thriller Destroyer from director Karyn Kusama. Reaction from Colorado on the picture itself is also mixed. Some reviews have compared it to the work of Michael Mann while others have criticized its confusing storyline. Yet everyone seems to agree that Kidman is terrific in an unglamorous role.

Expect Annapurna Pictures to focus all of its Academy campaign on the four-time nominee and one time winner (for 2002’s The Hours). Don’t expect much chatter for the Picture, Director, or costars Sebastian Stan, Tatiana Maslany, Toby Kebbell, and Bradley Whitford.

Bottom line: the Boy Erased reaction lessens Kidman’s chances at a nod in Supporting Actress. The buzz about her performance in Destroyer bolsters her shot at lead.

The film opens domestically on Christmas. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: August 30th Edition

My weekly ranked Oscar predictions kick off today as the Venice Film Festival is in full swing with Toronto and Telluride on deck!

Each Thursday, I will be bringing you my top 25 possibilities for Best Picture, along with 15 for Best Director, the four acting races, and the screenplay categories.

In November, the rankings will constrict to 15 possibilities for Best Picture and ten for every other race covering feature films (this is when all the tech categories, animated feature, foreign film, documentary will enter the mix).

Before I get to the rankings, some warnings: these will change dramatically as time rolls along. Some features could be pushed back to 2019. Some of them will instantly become non-factors due to poor critical reaction. Others will vault higher.

In the acting races, there is always uncertainty at this juncture about placement in which category. Here’s a few 2018 examples: right now I have Steve Carell listed in lead actor for Beautiful Boy with Timothee Chalamet in supporting. That could switch or both could be campaigned for in lead. Time will tell. Same goes for Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book. Right now, I have Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs for lead, but it could easily be supporting. And it’s uncertain where the women (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone) of The Favourite will land.

All of this will be sorted out in the coming weeks and months and I’ll be here every Thursday to share with you where I have each category at this snapshot in time.

You can expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts coming your way directly focused on individual films screenings at festivals over the coming days.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Best Picture

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

2. A Star Is Born

3. Beautiful Boy

4. Roma

5. First Man

6. BlacKkKlansman

7. Boy Erased

8. Backseat

9. Peterloo

Other Possibilities:

10. Mary Queen of Scots

11. Widows

12. Black Panther

13. The Favourite

14. The Front Runner

15. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

16. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

17. Crazy Rich Asians

18. Old Man & The Gun

19. Bohemian Rhapsody

20. Destroyer

21. Green Book

22. Mary Poppins Returns

23. At Eternity’s Gate

24. On the Basis of Sex

25. Ben Is Back

Best Director

1. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

3. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

4. Damien Chazelle, First Man

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Other Possibilities:

6. Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy

7. Adam McKay, Backseat

8. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased

9. Mike Leigh, Peterloo

10. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots

11. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

12. Steve McQueen, Widows

13. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther

14. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner

15. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

2. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy

3. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

4. Ryan Gosling, First Man

5. Robert Redford, Old Man & The Gun

Other Possibilities:

6. Christian Bale, Backseat

7. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased

8. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner

10. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk

11. Rory Kinnear, Peterloo

12. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

13. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

14. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

15. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

2. Glenn Close, The Wife

3. Viola Davis, Widows

4. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots

5. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk

Other Possibilities:

6. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary

8. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

9. Olivia Colman, The Favourite

10. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex

11. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

12. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

13. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

14. Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place

15. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born

3. Sam Rockwell, Backseat

4. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased

5. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased

Other Possibilities:

6. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

7. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

9.. Mahershala Ali, Green Book

10. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

11. Jason Clarke, First Man

12. Sebastian Stan, Destroyer

13. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex

14. David Tennant, Mary Queen of Scots

15. Topher Grace, BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

1. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

3. Claire Foy, First Man

4. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots

5. Amy Adams, Backseat

Other Possibilities:

6. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy

7. Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy

8. Sissy Spacek, Old Man & The Gun

9. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns

10. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner

11. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

12. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians

13. Tatiana Maslany, Destroyer

14. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience

15. Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

2. Beautiful Boy

3. Boy Erased

4. A Star Is Born

5. BlacKkKlansman

Other Possibilities:

6. First Man

7. Mary Queen of Scots

8. The Front Runner

9. Crazy Rich Asians

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

11. Old Man & The Gun

12. Widows

13. Disobedience

14. Wildlife

15. The Sisters Brothers

Best Original Screenplay

1. Roma

2. Peterloo

3. Backseat

4. Eighth Grade

5. The Favourite

Other Possibilities:

6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

7. Destroyer

8. Ben Is Back

9. On the Basis of Sex

10. At Eternity’s Gate

11. Green Book

12. Colette

13. A Quiet Place

14. Bohemian Rhapsody

15. Sorry to Bother You

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Review

A decade into its multi-billion dollar cinematic universe, Avengers: Infinity War invites viewers to marvel at its gathering of superhero titans to fight another – a villain from planet Titan who reverses  one frequent MCU debit (a weak villain). It’s an experience that yields many positive results packed with the action and humor we’ve come to anticipate from the best of this franchise. This movie is massive and it feels that way. The 19th entry in the MCU that started with 2008’s Iron Man, here we have nearly all the significant characters from its catalog banding together. If you ever wondered how Thor (Chris Hemsworth) would get along with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the answer is humorously provided. How do the egos of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) meld? You’re about to find out. What happens when the original Avengers and others pick up their weapons alongside Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in Wakanda? Giddyup!

All of this runs the risk of Infinity War coming off as gimmicky, but it mostly doesn’t. That’s because directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely do a remarkable job sticking these giants into the blender and creating something that goes down smooth. This is not necessarily a sequel to 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron or 2016’s Captain America: Civil War (essentially the third Avengers flick). Rather it’s a follow-up to almost every MCU title. It’s important to know what happened in the actual Avengers pics and Civil War, but I’d suggest having knowledge of the Guardians, Panther, and so on. Lucky for Disney and Marvel Studios, you probably do. The gathering of these comic book and box office behemoths leads Infinity War to often feel like the continuation of a long running TV serial – albeit one with huge stars and an unlimited budget.

What brings all the characters together is Thanos (Josh Brolin). He has the proportions of the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and a similar sized ambitions of world destruction. Thanos is hell-bent on collecting the Infinity Stones, six potent gems that would render him all-powerful and capable of wiping out populations of many galaxies. After the breakup of the Avengers in Civil War two years ago, it’s Thanos that causes Mr. Stark and Captain America (Chris Evans) to put their differences aside. Thus begins the jigsaw puzzle of matching up Guardians and Asgardian gods with Wakanda kings and mystical doctors and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (Tom Holland).

As you may recall, Thanos has history with one particular character – Gamora (Zoe Saldana). She’s his adopted daughter after he decimated her home planet when she was a little girl. For those who might have assumed the Guardians of the Galaxy would have a glorified cameo in this universe, that is certainly not the case. It’s Gamora’s backstory with Thanos that puts meat on his character’s bones and assists in making him one of the franchise’s best villains. Brolin, for his part, gives the performance his menacing all in crafting him.

Delving too far into what happens in Infinity War would feel like cheating in any review. Part of the fun here is discovering just how these dozens of heroes and villains coexist. Some general observations: Thor alongside Groot and Rocket is a joy, as is witnessing Groot as a bratty teen with its attention rooted to a video game device. The return to Wakanda and its whip smart inhabitants feels welcome just weeks after Panther’s stand-alone effort. And after 10 years of Tony Stark onscreen in numerous MCU titles, Downey Jr.’s portrayal of him is still as strong as ever. There’s never been a moment in the decade where it felt like Downey was slumming it. He’s the heart of this franchise.

The conclusion of Infinity War leaves a lot open for the sequel that will arrive next year. When the credits roll before the inevitable post-credits sequence, we witness something both powerful and perhaps not as powerful as it seems after careful thought (saying more would be a spoiler). There’s no doubt, however, that this comic book all-star game is a winner.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch – Avengers: Infinity War

This weekend is all about Avengers: Infinity War at the box office as it barrels toward a potentially record-setting debut. The film looks, at the least, poised to set the all-time opening weekend record for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the 19th picture in the MCU as the multi-billion dollar franchise is about to hit its ten-year anniversary. 

Infinity will certainly make its mark financially, but could Academy voters take notice? In short – probably not. The pic stands at 85% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a bit below the original Avengers from 2012 (92%) and a bit above 2015 sequel Age of Ultron (75%). No MCU title or any comic book adaptation has managed a Best Picture nomination and I see no reason to think this will.

Having said that, the Marvel folks stand their best opportunity yet to score a nod in the biggest category of them all. And that would be Black Panther, which was released in February. It stands a real shot. Looking through the Oscar history with this franchise, The Avengers scored a Best Visual Effects nomination in 2012 and lost to Life of Pi. No nominations were given to Ultron.

Bottom line: Infinity War could find itself in the mix for Visual Effects and possibly even the Sound categories. Yet any real MCU love from voters will go to King T’Challa.

Avengers: Infinity War Box Office Prediction

It may feel like winter in many parts of the country even though it’s spring, but next weekend is essentially the start of the summer box office in 2018 when Avengers: Infinity War invades theaters. This is the 19th picture in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that began a decade ago with 2008’s Iron Man and the third installment of the Avengers franchise that kicked off in 2012 (an untitled fourth installment is out next summer).

After 10 years of these superheroes populating our screens in one form or another, Infinity War is the picture that brings them all together. That means we have the Avengers we’re used to seeing together: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). They’ve got a whole lot of company this time around, including Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Bucky (Sebastian Stan), and the whole Guardians of the Galaxy gang (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and the vocal work of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel). Josh Brolin is main villain Thanos. Other actors from the MCU returning include Gwyneth Paltrow, Idris Elba, Paul Bettany, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Benicio del Toro, Cobie Smulders, Angela Bassett, Tessa Thompson, and Jon Favreau. Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo (who directed 2016’s Captain America: Civil War) are behind the camera. Whew…

The gathering of the entire MCU is one impressive selling point and there’s been developments that have even increased the anticipation for Infinity‘s release. Last summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming was well-received, as were Guardians and Thor sequels. Yet perhaps more than anything else, this February’s Black Panther turned into a phenomenon – becoming the third highest grossing domestic earner of all time.

Projections have steadily increased in the past few weeks. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Infinity War could have the largest stateside opening of all time. In order to do so, it would need to surpass the $247 million achieved by 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To accomplish the 2nd biggest debut, it would need to exceed the $220 million of last year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It will almost certainly achieve the record for an MCU premiere, which is currently held by the original Avengers at $207 million.

I believe this will pass Jedi and rather easily. Getting to the Awakens number is doable, but I’ll project it falls a bit under that milestone.

Avengers: Infinity War opening weekend prediction: $240.2 million

 

I, Tonya Movie Review

I, Tonya, despite some faults, is an energetic and extremely well acted biopic of a notorious central figure who entered our lives at the onset of the tabloid world we live in. Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie), on one hand, defied incredible odds and utilized her figure skating talent and boundless drive to become of the sport’s best for a brief period. On the other, she allowed her not always charming demeanor to get in the way. The challenge of the screenplay from Steven Rogers is balancing a want to sympathize her while also acknowledging the subject’s own fault with events.

Harding grows up poor in Oregon with a real humdinger of an abusive mother played by Allison Janney, in a real humdinger of a scene stealing performance. Mother LaVona gives Tonya plenty of emotional issues, but also her severe and rather unhealthy competitive spirit. When the skating prodigy enters her teens, she falls for another abuser Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan). It doesn’t take much for Tonya to adore him after he seems to be the first person to say anything nice to her. That doesn’t last for long.

The picture is told with narration from the main players, reportedly with the actors simply repeating their real life counterparts words. Robbie’s work is impressive. She may not totally resemble the title character’s physical presence, but she embodies her often frustrating personality. Stan is memorable as the clueless but also monstrous husband. And a special shout out goes to Paul Walter Hauser as Jeff’s friend and Tonya’s “bodyguard” Shawn. Like Janney, he pulls heists on sequences he appears in.

I, Tonya seems to know that we’re waiting to get to the part we all know – the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan and the bungled aftermath of it. As in the real life fury and frenzy when it was happening in 1994, Kerrigan is mostly seen and not heard. We do witness the criminal enterprise behind the kneecapping where the stupidity of the culprits would struggle to be believable in a fiction work.

The film succeeds in helping explain how Tonya became Tonya. How much you feel for her will likely vary by the viewer. One thing is abundantly clear – she doesn’t think anything that’s happened to her is her fault. This is essentially her mantra.

I, Tonya can feel too over directed by Craig Gillespie and too frenetically edited for its own good at times. Yet the actors and the deliciously improbable story that drew the nation’s fixation one winter make it a winner overall. The real Tonya Harding would certainly claim the credit for the movie’s high points. The parts that don’t completely succeed? Not her fault.

*** (out of four)