The 2023 Oscar Snubs: “The Menu” and “Women Talking”

The 2023 Oscar nominations recently dropped, and movie buffs were quick to notice the absence of two standout films, “The Menu” and “Women Talking,” from the Best Picture category. The curious exclusion sparked a heated debate on the dynamics of Hollywood’s award season, prompting questions about critical acclaim, representation, and the ever-evolving landscape of cinema recognition.

Why Were They Snubbed ?

Critical Acclaim and Buzz

“The Menu” earned praise for its dark humor, social commentary, and Ralph Fiennes’s captivating performance. Critics gave it a solid 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it snagged nominations at the Gotham Awards and Critics Choice Awards. Similarly, “Women Talking,” adapted from Miriam Toews’s novel, impressed with its nuanced portrayal of trauma and resilience, scoring 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and winning the WGA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Despite this, they found themselves on the outside looking in for the Best Picture nod.

Expert Opinions

Guillermo del Toro expressed deep disappointment at “Women Talking’s” absence, calling it a “powerful, essential film.” Critic Karina Longworth pointed out that “The Menu” seemed to defy categorization, possibly leaving voters unsure where to place it. Awards expert Clayton Davis raised concerns about diversity and the Academy’s willingness to embrace challenging subject matter.

Fan Reactions and Online Discourse

Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram became the battlegrounds for disappointed fans. One user lamented the #OscarsSoWhite trend, accusing the Academy of overlooking “Women Talking.” Another decried “The Menu’s” snub, questioning Hollywood’s appreciation for originality and wit.

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Beyond the Snubs: Genre, Subject Matter, and Competition

Challenges of Unconventional Films

Both films challenged traditional categories. “The Menu” blended dark comedy and thriller, while “Women Talking” delved into sensitive religious community topics. These unconventional elements may have perplexed voters accustomed to more straightforward genres.

Subject Matter and Awards Recognition

Addressing complex issues like sexual assault and religious trauma can make voters hesitant, despite critical acclaim. The weightiness of these themes may have led some to choose lighter fare.

A Competitive Field

The Best Picture race was a crowded affair, featuring sci-fi epics, musical biopics, and war dramas. Even outstanding films like “The Menu” and “Women Talking” faced stiff competition, with big names and box office hits potentially overshadowing their unique narratives.

Looking at the Competition

Examining the nominated films revealed a diverse mix of genres and styles, from sci-fi epics to satirical dark comedies. Some, like “Triangle of Sadness” and “The Banshees of Inisherin,” shared thematic elements with the snubbed films. However, factors like established directors and broad appeal may have swayed the votes in favor of others.

The Lasting Impact

While “The Menu” and “Women Talking” might not have secured Oscars, their snubs sparked vital conversations about representation, artistic risk-taking, and the evolving nature of awards recognition. The debate surrounding their exclusion will likely continue, but the impact of their stories on audiences remains undeniable. As we reflect on the 2023 Oscars, one thing is certain: the cinematic landscape is evolving, and these snubs have become a crucial part of that conversation.