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Best Picture Winner

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

CAST:

Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald, Diane Baker, Brooke Smith, Chris Isaak, Charles Napier, Daniel von Bargen

REVIEW:

Few cinematic villains are a source of as much morbid fascination as Hannibal Lecter. Like the heroine Clarice Starling, we are frightened and disturbed by him, and yet we are too intrigued to turn our eyes away. Dr. Lecter is undoubtebly the character best-remembered from the psychological thriller The Silence of the Lambs, and the acclaim showered on Anthony Hopkins for his Oscar-winning performance sometimes threatens to overshadow Jodie Foster’s also Oscar-winning lead role as FBI trainee Clarice Starling, a fine performance and a well-developed character in her own right. Clarice and Hannibal are two of the strongest characters ever written and acted in a horror movie, and they are given a script that does them justice, a dark, intelligent thriller that relies much less on blood and guts than on well-honed characterizations, a few scenes of indelible purely verbal interactions, and a vivid sense of atmosphere. All of these elements combined to make The Silence of the Lambs a classic of the thriller genre and earned it five Academy Awards in 1991. Continue reading

Patton (1970)

DIRECTOR: Franklin J. Schaffner

CAST:

George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Ed Binns, Michael Bates, Karl Michael Vogler, Siegfried Rauch, Richard Münch, Paul Stevens, Tim Considine, Clint Ritchie

REVIEW:

Equally effective as a war film or a character study, Patton still holds up today chiefly due to the towering lead performance by George C. Scott.  Rod Steiger, Lee Marvin, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and Burt Lancaster were all offered the title role, but after watching the film it is impossible to imagine anyone else but Scott. Patton can be enjoyed simply as one of the great film performances of all time. Scott does not simply play Patton; he has become so synonymous with the character that the real George Patton of WWII archive footage seems like an imposter. Credit is also due the capable direction by Franklin J. Schaffner, producer Frank McCarthy (a retired brigadier general who had worked for twenty years to make a movie about Patton), the intelligent, even-handed screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North, and the cinematography by Fred Kroenkamp, who enhances the film with his sweeping shots of Tunisia, France, and Germany. John Huston, Henry Hathaway, and Fred Zinnemann had declined to direct. William Wyler agreed but later left over script disagreements with Scott. Whatever difficulties they may have had during filming, the efforts of the cast and crew paid off, as Patton went on to win eight Oscars, including Best Actor for Scott (which he famously refused, calling the Oscars a ‘self-serving meat parade’), Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Production Design.

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