Monday, July 16, 2012

Battle Of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 1991

Growing up, it was all about honoring princesses of the Disney or fairy tale variety. These girls got the castle and prince, but, as people tend to forget, they also had ambition, guts, and brains.

As the years went by that tough, no-nonsense character played a big part in my life, and even at 25, before my eyes, boom!, a new lady hero; Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster).

The Silence Of The Lambs (or "Lamps" with my slightly dyslexic tendencies-not as scary.) is still just as gory and terrifying as you've heard, but ladies let us appreciate that it is an exciting story entirely lead by a strong woman, who fights to solve the crime even surrounded by a gaggle of maniacal men.

Having only seen this before on television, with scenes shortened and cut, most of the greater significance of the story was lost, which is a huge problem with watching flicks on cable. Now, having seen it for the first time in its entirety, I fully understand all the Academy Awards, Best Picture hubbub (also took home: Best Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay). This is not just your standard horror flick.

(Do you spook easily? Yup, sure do!)

The nation is on high alert as a serial killer, who they call Buffalo Bill, has taken the lives of numerous women. In order to gain some insight on how to catch him, Clarice Starling, an FBI agent in training, is sent to interview an incarcerated psychopath, otherwise known as Hannibal Lector.

Even with her extreme inexperience, Starling begins to unravel the secrets of Buffalo Bill, all while Lector drags her own secrets out into the open. These intense interview scenes between Lector and Starling are really where Hopkins and Foster shine.

I'll always remember this as a movie my parents rented that I was not allowed to watch (thank god!), and it took me this long to catch it in its entirety. No one else wait as long as I did, because this is a heart pounding, beyond excellent film.

Right off the bat, the stage is set for the epic creepiness to commence; the first scene finds Starling running in a desolate wood, with only the eerie soundtrack to keep her company. Utterly, the perfect location to set the mood.

Nothing is known for sure until the final moments, done especially well in an intense and genius cross cutting scene between two different houses, in two completely different cities. Having seen the end before, it still surprised me-definitely nailed it Jonathan Demme. 

As the film has moved into pop culture, most recall the eating habits of Hannibal Lector or the creeptastic mental habits of Buffalo Bill, but I never heard as much passed down about the legacy of the film being terrifying and a solid mystery to boot. You get the horror and the smarts, unlike those money-maker gore fests coming out these days.

Easily the scariest Best Picture winner (would Rebecca be the next closest?), and also just a brilliant movie. Clarice Starling is the man, or as Jesse Spano would correct me, is the wo-man. Either way, she is in serious bad ass territory, which, no matter how old I get, will always be someone I root for and want to be just like.

Next up: "Holy Shit. Someone named their dance troop Schindler's List."

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