If you’re looking for the best movies on Hulu, there is an Oscar-winning title from 2017 that is now available on the streaming site, I, Tonya. Considered one of the best movies of 2017, I, Tonya was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Actress (Margot Robbie), and Allison Janney picked up the award for Best Supporting Actress. The famed incident involving Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan has been well-documented, and though some question the film’s accuracy, Harding herself liked the movie and even consulted with Robbie on her workouts for the ice. Nancy Kerrigan has said that she will not see the Harding biopic, as documented by the Hollywood Reporter, but you definitely should if you enjoy comedy-dramas.
Written by Steven Rogers and directed by Craig Gillespie, Robbie stars in and co-produced this Hulu gem that co-stars Sebastian Stan (Jeff Gillooly), Paul Walter Hauser (Shawn Eckhardt), Julianne Nicholson (Diane Rawlinson), and as previously mentioned, the Oscar-winning Allison Janney, who portrays Tonya’s mother, LaVona Golden. With a stunning score of 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, out of 310 reviews, the site provides the premise for one of the best movies on Hulu.
“Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan…I, TONYA is an absurd, irreverent, and piercing portrayal of Harding’s life and career in all of its unchecked–and checkered–glory.”
This Hulu feature is part hilarious mockumentary and part captivating drama. The film is at its funniest when the characters are speaking into the camera for the faux documentary, and it’s at its most moving when we get a glimpse into the upbringing of Tonya Harding and the abuse that followed. The skater was reportedly physically and mentally abused by her mother while growing up, and 12-year-old Mckenna Grace does a splendid job portraying the skater as a child. Tonya thought she was escaping the abusive situation at home when she married her now ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, but the light at the end of the tunnel ended up being the headlight of an oncoming train, as Jeff reportedly beat her on a regular basis.
A film that depicts physical abuse does not usually make for a fun night at the movies, but Gillespie shoots these scenes brilliantly. In one moment, we watch Harding get struck by Jeff, and in the next moment, Margot breaks the fourth wall to talk directly to the audience and follows that up with an elbow to Jeff’s face. This Hulu selection walks a fine line between making light of abuse and taking it seriously, and it does so perfectly. The abusive scenes certainly reveal how serious the situation was for the former ice skater, but it does so in such a manner that the film doesn’t become too overbearing or depressing.
Margot Robbie received well-deserved praise from both fans and critics alike, and this is one of her best movies. As the Hollywood Reporter documented, the Australian actor had no idea who Tonya Harding was before she researched the story for the part. She took the role very seriously, and for four hours a day, five days a week, and over the course of five months, Robbie trained on the ice to learn to skate. She described to the Hollywood Reporter how she was terrified just weeks before filming.
“I was honestly terrified that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. We were just a few weeks from shooting, and I was still struggling to find my outside edges. I just thought I was never going to get them, and then, one day, it just clicked.”
Her on-ice skills aren’t the only thing that clicked. From a compelling drama to a laugh-out-loud comedy, the entire movie clicks on a variety of levels. This is one of the most captivating Hulu movies, and if you have yet to watch this film, everything the critics have been saying about Janney’s performance is not overstated; the former West Wing co-star rightfully earned her Oscar, and per her usual, she delivers relentlessly funny one-liners, though the character she portrays leaves a lot to be desired.
If Margot and Allison’s performances don’t give you a chuckle, then Paul Walter Hauser’s certainly should. He nails Eckhardt’s demeanor and mannerisms perfectly, and there’s a sort of satisfaction in laughing at the goofy, supposed bodyguard. Hauser has been featured in only a couple of mainstream movies, but he will likely be featured in many others after his brilliant portrayal in this one. His on-screen chemistry with Sebastian Stan is sharp, and the undesirable characters they portray have several scene-stealing moments.
The story of Harding is an outrageous one, and this Hulu movie mirrors that. Of course, it all leads up to that fateful day when Kerrigan was brutally bludgeoned by Shawn and the aftermath that followed. Though this is no laughing matter, the manner in which they decided to commit this crime and how they got caught certainly are. And that’s the overall essence of this film on Hulu; tragedy that’s revealed in a humorous manner, but not done so in a way that’s disrespectful.
If you enjoy movies with dark humor, then this witty film is a must-watch. Even if you never cared about this ’90s crime that became a media circus, and even if you hate ice skating, whether you sympathize with Harding or you don’t, you will likely be glued to your seat during this 119-minute film on Hulu. And to top it all off, the classic rock soundtrack, well, rocks.
With brilliant acting, sharp directing, a solid soundtrack, and a story that delivers as much drama as it does laughs, I, Tonya is one of the best movies on Hulu.