Out in theaters this November, The Menu is one of the most exciting horror movies of the year and also a hilarious satire about the superficial world of the rich falling apart in the hands of the sadistic chef of an exclusive restaurant.
The Chef is played by none other than Ralph Fiennes, arguably one of the first names that come to mind when the subject is a good villainous role. However, throughout his career, Fiennes engaged in many distinctive projects, quite a few of them surprisingly heroic.
10/10 M. Gustave – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Every once in a while there’s a man who seems to be made for his time and place and in the world of The Grand Budapest Hotel, this man is Monsieur Gustave. A caring friend full of love in his heart and also a competent concierge at a luxurious European hotel, he encapsulates all the best traits of Wes Anderson movies, from his eccentric nature to his thrill for peculiar adventures.
M. Gustave isn’t the first character that comes to mind when it comes to heroes, but Gustave certainly died like one, killed by fascists while defending his beloved companion, Zero.
9/10 Orlando Oxford – The King’s Man (2021)
Fans might argue that the Kingsman franchise is losing its strength but Ralph Fiennes undeniably carried the latest film as Orlando Oxford, a peculiar fictional spy also known as the Duke of Oxford.
Apart from being the first Arthur and the founder of the Kingsman agency which saved the world countless times as it went on, Oxford pioneered espionage techniques ahead of his time, getting the upper hand over the multiple criminals that shared the common goal to plot a war and use the Kingsman agency as a tribute to his son.
8/10 M – No Time To Die(2012)
Although Ralph Fiennes had the potential to play James Bond himself, he was cast as M and first appeared in Skyfall, acting as an intermediary between M16 and the British government.
His name is Gareth Mallory and, as expected, he became the new Head of Secret Intelligence Service. M had a difficult past as a war prisoner, which explains his detachment from social circles, although he still manages to do his job well, supervising conspiracies and jumping into action whenever he feels the need to intervene. For someone who works in government, he’s lucid and open to new perspectives, gradually building up a relationship of mutual trust with Bond throughout the past movies.
7/10 Lenny Nero – Strange Days (1995)
It’s difficult to even describe the succession of atrocities Lenny Nero witnesses in Strange Days, yet he still manages to keep his mind straight and find peace in a cyberpunk world afflicted by ultraviolence.
Lenny Nero is an ex-cop turned hustler who decides to use his detective skills after encountering a mysterious disc containing memories of a murder. Although his methods are violent, and he’s forced to resort to ghastly acts before enjoying the turn of the millennium, his true nature remains unscathed as the final scene suggests.
6/10 Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights (1992)
One of the most popular characters in literature, Heathcliff is an eccentric anti-hero; growing up as an ambitious and romantic nobleman, he’s gradually consumed by an obsessive love that leads him to become an angry, unreliable man constantly putting himself and those he loves in danger.
Heathcliff’s true nature is undeniably good but his familiar environment in addition to the snake pit he lives in gives rise to the very worst version of him.
5/10 Harry Waters – In Bruges (2008)
Martin McDonaugh’s specialty is playing with justice and morals like it’s a disposable toy, which explains why In Bruges‘ main antagonist, Harry Waters, is supposedly the only person with principles in the film, which leads up to a hilarious punch line.
In Bruges is a caustic black comedy about two hit men and colleagues tricked by Harry to kill themselves. Harry proceeds to engage in a variety of horrific acts throughout the movie but insists that if he ever killed a child, he would take his own life. No one could count on the villain’s stupidity in the end, when he accidentally kills an actor with dwarfism, mistakes him for a child, and shoots himself in the head.
In The Menu, Slowik is one of the most successful chefs in the world. His exclusive restaurant is located on a remote island he owns, and his lavish menu is meticulously crafted according to the preferences of each of the selected guests that have money enough to afford a reservation. His reputation was arguably untouchable until he suddenly decided to vent his rage against the rich with a new menu filled with shocking surprises.
Although Chef Slowik’s motivations are solid and viewers almost find themselves rooting for the villain, his sadistic methods are actually quite scary, and his resolute attitude prevents anyone from changing his mind as he carries out a disturbing plan.
3/10 Francis Dolarhyde – Red Dragon (2002)
Francis Dolarhyde is a ruthless serial killer from the universe of Hannibal Lecter, also known as The Tooth Fairy due to his fixation with biting his victims and his nocturnal habits. Dolarhyde’s merciless methods include killing his victims’ pets before proceeding to murder entire their family.
Dolarhyde went through a childhood marked by constant abuses, which led him to develop psychopathic impulses such as killing animals and other absurd behaviors, including devouring paintings. He left a disturbing trail of blood after finally being caught by Will Graham.
2/10 Voldemort – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Ralph Fiennes’ performance as Voldemort aged like wine as fans continue to be impressed with how the actor nailed even the villain’s mannerisms from the book.
Voldemort is unanimously regarded as one of the best villains of all time and embodies all the evil that inhabits the world of Harry Potter, which explains why the franchise only got darker as the villain got stronger. Voldemort is a merciless dark wizard incapable of loving, which ends up being his biggest weakness but doesn’t stop him from leaving a trail of blood and almost taking over Hogwarts.
1/10 Amon Göth – Schindler’s List (1993)
There’s no-one more villainous than a real-life Nazi officer. Ralph Fiennes nails the terrifying role of the man who served as the commandant of the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp in German-occupied Poland for the majority of the war, making him accountable for the death of thousands of Jewish people.
In the film, he’s one of the main officers involved in the transition of ghettos to concentration camps, sending the remaining inhabitants to the miserable Płaszów camp and ordering the killing of the leftovers by the SS.
More: 10 Most Frightening Ralph Fiennes Characters That Will Give You Shivers