Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
A horror movie winning the Academy Award for Best Picture? That seems like an impossibility, yet The Silence of the Lambs managed to sweep all five of the main Oscar categories (including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay) back when it was first released. An anomaly? Sure, but it was also a matter of undeniable quality—The Silence of the Lambs is a gruesome, no-punches-pulled masterpiece of suspense.
Playing the now-iconic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins took a character from author Thomas Harris' same-named novel (released in 1988) and turned it into the world's most charismatic flesh-eater. Sure, Lecter feasts on human coverings and insides with the class of a rich man snacking on caviar, but he's someone who'll simultaneously drink high-priced Chardonnay. With intelligent discourse and a velvety smooth pitch, Lecter is the most dangerous kind of villain: A brilliant charmer who's also a skin-devouring baddie. Your mother would be defenseless. —MB