The first film I saw in a theatrical release this year was the fabulous "I, Tonya." I don't really know how to approach this one objectively since the film itself is so rooted in the subjective - Tonya lets you know a few times that it's her version of events, sometime's her ex-husband's. It's an emotional ride - hilarious, moving and thrilling.
This is a triumphant film, spinning interviews with Tonya and those closest to her in the 90s, particularly those associated with the "incident" involving an assault on her competitor, Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Winter Olympics. (Nancy's story is treated simply as small part of Tonya's larger narrative because, well, this isn't her story) The performances are all knockouts, especially Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding. It's with good reason that people can't stop talking about Allison Janney as Tonya's gruff, abusive mother.
"I, Tonya" is the purest example of cinema as an empathy machine. We hear Tonya's story, told on her terms, and ultimately end up rooting for this ultimate underdog - she's the dark side of America's sweetheart. Tell me you didn't feel a rush when this poor, white trash underdog landed that first triple axel.
Director Craig Gillespie and writer Steven Rogers do, however, flip the POV between Tonya, her mother, Jeff, and occasionally "bodyguard" Shawn. There are contradicting accounts and no firm answers to questions we've had for 23 years, but the story we get is absolutely and triumphantly Tonya's and it's the story we didn't know we needed.