Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
The first time I saw The Silence of the Lambs, I was about thirteen years old and had spent years hearing my mom call it one of the scariest movies she had ever seen and found myself misled and disappointed. In the intervening time, I never rewatched it but always remembered that disappointment so I was somewhat apprehensive coming into it again, wanting to see the brilliance everyone else has spoken about, but concerned it would follow Platoon’s example from a few weeks ago and continue to be a film that just wasn’t for me. I’m happy to report that my initial assessment was wrong and the rule that you should never trust a teenager’s opinion on anything still stands. Though I still wouldn’t go so far as to call it one of the best Best Picture winners, it’s as good a crime thriller as any and there was never a moment where I wasn’t absolutely attached to the screen despite having seen it before. Hopkins does a truly incredible job and provides all the best scenes in the film as the sort of guy who reminds you that it’s the seemingly normal people who can be capable of the most horrific things, but the time without him keeps up the eerie and unsettling feeling provided by his presence as the horror of the world is shown to expand far beyond him and took place essentially in my backyard.
The Real Best Picture:
The Silence of the Lambs