- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Here’s a look at some Academy Award-winning movies recently released on the Blu-ray format.

I, Tonya (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated R, 115 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $34.98) — Normal humans cringe when remembering the fiasco surrounding the 1994 Winter Olympic Games that started when contender Nancy Kerrigan got whacked in the knee during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The crime, ultimately blamed on ice-skating rival Tonya Harding’s former husband and his associates, made for riveting tabloid television.

Equally riveting is last year’s biographical crime drama loosely based on the outrageous events with a story that also spends more quality time covering the relationship between a daughter and an abusive mother molding an ice-skating champion.

Allison Janney deservedly won an Academy Award for her performance as the crusty, Boris Karloff-looking parent LaVona Fay Golden while Margot Robbie stood skate-covered toe-to-toe with mom as the infamous Miss Harding.

They were supported by Sebastian (Captain America’s Bucky Barnes) Stan as Tonya’s clingy, wife-beating hubby Jeff Gillooly and Paul Walter Hauser as his slovenly, moronic friend and her bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt.

Director Craig Gillespie’s odd film structure mixing dark comedic narratives, faux news show interviews, characters talking to the camera, 4x3-ratio-sized solo interviews and news footage ultimately reveal a tragedy of epic proportions surrounding a little girl who just wanted to be loved by her mother.

It’s also a cautionary tale and required watching at least a few times by parents as a reminder to stop pushing their youngsters so hard.

Best extras: First, and always my requisite extra, the director sits down for an optional commentary track to explore the filmmaking process.

He’s not super chatty and a bit low-key, but Mr. Gillespie spends plenty of time on technical details, such as film stock; camera types and angles; difficulties with filming on ice; effects and editing while shooting; comparing the real-life events; and some gushing about the cast.

Next, five featurettes offer a 15-minute look at the production of the film. Most interesting are the segments on the visual effects used to fill up stadiums and those used to turn Miss Robbie into an amazing skater, as well as creating the illusion of executing a daunting triple axel jump.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated R, 115 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $34.98) — Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell’s Academy Award-winning performances fuel this black comedy encrusted, crime drama directed by Martin McDonagh.

The unrelenting grief and rage of Mildred Hayes, a mother mourning the loss of her sexually assaulted and murdered daughter, takes center stage in Mr. McDonagh’s intense story.

Specifically, when the hardened woman that takes no prisoners, played fanatically by Ms. McDormand, pays for three billboards calling out the local police department’s lack of effort in catching the killer, the entire town’s emotions swell up.

The cast never stops fueling Ms. McDormand’s fire and includes Mr. Rockwell as an alcoholic, racist version of Barney Fife; Woody Harrelson as the compassionate family man and dying chief of police; and Caleb Landry Jones as an unfortunate billboard salesman.

I didn’t particularly like the ending, but the exemplary acting and touch of Coen Brothers’ “Fargo” absurdity throughout makes “Three Billboards” well worth the time investment.

Best extras: Viewers get a 30-minute look at the making of the film offering heavy analysis of the characters and story by all of the key actors and production personnel.

Nuggets such as Ms. McDormand admitting to creating Mildred in the spirit of John Wayne, the director appreciating working with a consistent ensemble cast in his films and cinematographer Ben Davis’ love of 1970s movies pepper the interview segments.

Also, the most interesting segment focuses on an on-set overview of the single-take scene of Officer Dixon’s mental break with stunt coordinator Doug Coleman.

Next, a collection of five deleted scenes (roughly 7 minutes in total) offer more great deliveries of dialogue from the key actors but were correctly excised by the director to not bog down the already, almost 2-hour long film.

Finally, viewers also get, in a full-screen presentation, Mr. McDonagh’s 27-minute-long movie “Six Shooter” that won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2004. It offers a startling and somewhat humorously bleak look at one man suffering (Brendan Gleeson) through a single day of his difficult life.


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