Nominated for Nothing: Why the Oscars decided to order off The Menu
They're destined to score zero Academy Awards, but they won our attention throughout a year (and awards season) like no other. Ahead of the 95th Oscars ceremony on March 12, EW is breaking down the year's best movies, performances, and directorial achievements that were nominated for nothing.
The film: In this tasty, and twisty, treat of a horror-comedy, Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) embark on a remote-island dinner date at the restaurant of a celebrity chef (Ralph Finnes), whose menu has all the ingredients for a night of mayhem.. Chef Slovik, we learn, has had his fill of catering to boorish, uncaring one-percenters and resolves to teach his guests a series of often bloody lessons with the help of his second-in-command, Hong Chau's hilariously no-crap-taking Elsa. The fly in the soup is Taylor-Joy's character, a sex worker hired by Tyler to be his companion for the evening. Margot's unexpected presence threatens Slovik's carefully-constructed plans as she desperately attempts to avoid the fate he has cooked up for guests, staff, and himself.
Eric Zachanowich/Searchlight Pictures Anya Taylor-Joy in 'The Menu'
The film's script, by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, is largely set in Slovik's restaurant, Hawthorn, but director and Succession veteran Mark Mylod expertly avoids any hint of staginess as his cameras roam from the kitchen to the movie's bizarro dishes to the increasingly horrified diners. Those guests are played by small army of top notch, clearly-enjoying-themselves character actors including Judith Light, Rob Yang, and John Leguizamo (who revealed to EW last year that his portrayal of an over-the-hill movie star was inspired by his Executive Decision co-star Steven Seagal).
Why it wasn't nominated: As there is not category for Best Depiction of Crazy Food, the film's most obvious chance for Academy recognition was Fiennes. The Brit actor has been twice nominated by the Academy, for his work in Schindler's List and The English Patient, and is both terrifying and tragic as Slovik. Fiennes was talked-up as a potential Supporting Actor contender last fall but it was a case of close but no shaved-coconut come nomination announcement day. Why? The Academy remains routinely allergic to anything which could be described as a horror film (see also the lack of nominations for Jordan Peele's Nope). The film also had the misfortune of releasing the same year as another dining-oriented social satire, Triangle of Sadness, with less slayings, more obviously political content, and a director (Ruben Östlund) who was already familiar to the Academy thanks to his 2017 movie The Square, a Best Foreign Film nominee. The result: Triangle of Sadness was rewarded with nominations in the categories of Best Film, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, and The Menu wound up eating air.
Why history will remember it better than the Academy Awards did: While The Menu already has a solid rep, Mylod's detailed depiction of foodie culture taken to a demented extreme seems like the kind of skilled skewering destined for greater recognition. Add to that the ever-upward career trajectory of Taylor-Joy, who will next be seen in the Mad Max: Fury Road prequel Furiosa, and it's easy to imagine more people appreciatively chewing over the movie in the years to come.
Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.
Nominated for Nothing: The tricky, swooning thriller Decision to Leave deserved better
The secrets behind the authentically pretentious food in The Menu
The Menu star Hong Chau was so convincing as a restaurant manager, she got offered a job
Anya Taylor-Joy ate Nicholas Hoult's leftovers while shooting The Menu