58. 'Silence of the Lambs'
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Hannibal Lecter is, inarguably, the greatest villain in cinema history.
What's that, you say? Darth Vader? Sure, the Darth Vader of "A New Hope" and
"The Empire Strikes Back" is a terrifying figure, known to cause heart
palpitations and spontaneous bowel movements in his enemies and the audience
alike. But the prequel trilogy — unlike the little seen "Hannibal Rising" —
cannot be ignored, and Anthony Hopkins's deliciously charming Hannibal
isn't merely the misunderstood product of a troubled childhood. No, Hannibal
Lecter is pure sociopath, someone who kills people — not capriciously, or at
random, but because they're rude to him — and then eats them, and then is
somehow devious enough to get away with it. Best of all? At the end of the film,
a little part of you wants him to succeed.
Find: Check out scenes from 'Silence of the Lambs'
That "Silence of the Lambs" is a great film is also an undisputed fact; it's
one of only three films — "It Happened One Night" and "One Flew Over the
Cuckoo's Nest" being the others — to win the Oscars for Best Picture, Best
Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted or Original Screenplay.
"Silence" also made bank, earning over $270 million worldwide off of a
relatively minuscule $19 million production budget. That said, greatness — or
box office success — does not always guarantee that a film will become a
perennial favorite. "Schindler's List" is also a great movie, but does anybody
want to watch that over and over again? And "Twilight: Eclipse" was hugely
successful, but ... You get the picture. But to spend a rainy afternoon with Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling? Sign me up! On an
empty stomach, of course. — Corwin Neuse (Anthony Hopkins,
Jodie Foster in "Silence of the Lambs"/Courtesy Everett Collection/Rex