Tag Archives: The Silence of the Lambs

The Best Picture Coulda Been Contenders: 1990-2008

In 2009, the Academy underwent a change in the number of Best Picture nominees honored each year. The rule change allowed a fluctuation of five to ten nominees per year, as opposed to a finite five (all other categories stayed at that number).

As has been discussed on this blog, many felt the change was triggered by 2008’s The Dark Knight, the critically acclaimed comic book pic that was also highest earner of the year. It failed to a garner a Best Picture nod and the thinking was that it was time for more popular options to make it into the mix.

Since the change, the magic number has been nine nominated pictures in most years. This got me thinking: what if that rule had been in effect during prior years? What movies that failed to get a nomination would have certainly made it?

That brings us here. I have gone back to 1990 through 2008 and I’m listing two films from each year that I am confident would have made the shortlist. In selecting each title, here were some of the key indicators. If a Director was nominated for his work and the film failed to get nominated, that probably means it would have been included. Additionally, the screenplay races are a decent predictor of some titles that might have made the magic nine (or eight or ten). For reference sake, I am including the five movies that did get nominated.

So here goes! Two features from 1990-2008 that coulda and likely woulda been contenders…

1990

The Actual Nominees: Dances with Wolves (Winner), Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, GoodFellas

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Grifters, Reversal of Fortune

1991

The Actual Nominees: The Silence of the Lambs (W), Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boyz N The Hood, Thelma & Louise

1992

The Actual Nominees: Unforgiven (W), The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howards End, Scent of a Woman

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Malcolm X, The Player

1993

The Actual Nominees: Schindler’s List (W), The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Philadelphia, Short Cuts

1994

The Actual Nominees: Forrest Gump (W), Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Bullets Over Broadway, Three Colors: Red

1995

The Actual Nominees: Braveheart (W), Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino, Sense and Sensibility

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Dead Man Walking, Leaving Las Vegas

1996

The Actual Nominees: The English Patient (W), Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, Shine

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Sling Blade

1997

The Actual Nominees: Titanic (W), As Good as It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Huinting, L.A. Confidential

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boogie Nights, The Sweet Hereafter

1998

The Actual Nominees: Shakespeare in Love (W), Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Gods and Monsters, The Truman Show

1999

The Actual Nominees: American Beauty (W), The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Being John Malkovich, Topsy-Turvy

2000

The Actual Nominees: Gladiator (W), Chocolat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Almost Famous, Billy Elliot

2001

The Actual Nominees: A Beautiful Mind (W), Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge!

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Black Hawk Down, Mulholland Drive

2002

The Actual Nominees: Chicago (W), Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Far from Heaven, Talk to Her

2003

The Actual Nominees: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (W), Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit 

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: City of God, In America

2004

The Actual Nominees: Million Dollar Baby (W), The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Hotel Rwanda, Vera Drake

2005

The Actual Nominees: Crash (W), Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Syriana, Walk the Line

2006

The Actual Nominees: The Departed (W), Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Pan’s Labyrinth, United 93

2007

The Actual Nominees: No Country for Old Men (W), Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Away from Her, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

2008

The Actual Nominees: Slumdog Millionaire (W), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Dark Knight, Doubt

And there you have it! There will be a part II to this post. What if the rule change had never occurred? From 2009 until the present, what would have been the five nominated Pictures if only that number was allowed. Stay tuned…

 

The Non-Sequel Actors

Next weekend sees the release of two high-profile sequels: The Equalizer 2 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The pair of part II’s have something rather interesting in common: they serve as the first sequels that their stars Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep have ever appeared in. Pretty surprising huh? Both have been mega-stars for decades and have never followed up on a character until now.

This got me thinking: what other major actors have never been in a sequel? And it’s not an easy list to cobble together.

Some actors are known for their cases of sequelitis. We know Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in a multitude of them, including Marvel Cinematic Universe pics and franchises ranging from Star Wars to xXx to Incredibles. He was John McClane’s sidekick in Die Hard with a Vengeance. And looking early in his filmography, 1990 saw him appearing in The Exorcist III and The Return of Superfly. There’s also Patriot Games from 1992 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 from 2004. Son of Shaft will be out next year. Dude loves his m****f***ing sequels!

Sylvester Stallone has made a career of out of them. Creed II will mark his 15th sequel by my count. There’s the Rocky, Rambo, and Expendables series and there’s also Staying Alive (which he directed and had a cameo in), Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and the just released Escape Plan 2: Hades.

Eddie Murphy has returned in the following series: 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor, Dr. Dolittle, and Shrek. There could be a part II of Coming to America on the horizon.

Harrison Ford has the famous series like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Jack Ryan pictures. There’s also More American Graffiti, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and last year’s Blade Runner 2049.

OK, back to thespians who don’t constantly appear in sequels. Leonardo DiCaprio? Well, who can forget one of his first roles as Josh in 1991’s Critters 3? 

Matthew McConaughey has a similar situation. Since he’s become known, no sequels (not even returning in Magic Mike XXL). Yet one of his first roles was in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. 

Unlike his 80s comedic counterparts Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and Steve Martin (all in plenty of them), I couldn’t immediately think of any sequel that John Candy did. Yet he provided a voice-over in the 1990 Disney animated follow-up The Rescuers Down Under. 

With Marlon Brando, I guess it depends on how you look at it. He refused to come back for a flashback cameo in The Godfather Part II. Yet he did appear in 2006’s Superman Returns… with a caveat. That footage was culled completely from his work nearly three decades earlier in Superman and it happened two years after his death.

So here’s the deal… it is really tough to come up with performers in the modern age who haven’t appeared in at least one sequel. However, here’s five of them and feel free to list others in the comments!

Warren Beatty

He’s famously picky about his projects and he’s never played the same man twice. There were rumors that he wanted to do another Dick Tracy, but it never materialized.

Annette Bening

Beatty’s wife has had a long and distinguished career free of sequels. She was originally cast as Catwoman in 1992’s Batman Returns but dropped out due to pregnancy.

Russell Crowe

The Oscar winner has yet to return to a role, though I’d certainly sign up for The Nice Guys II. P.S. – I do not count Man of Steel as a sequel.

Jodie Foster

She declined to return as Clarice Starling in 2001’s Hannibal after an Oscar-winning turn in The Silence of the Lambs ten years earlier. That was her biggest chance at a sequel and there are none before or after.

Jake Gyllenhaal

His first role was as Billy Crystal’s son in City Slickers, but he was nowhere to be found for part II or any other sequel. However, that long streak ends next summer with Spider-Man: Far From Home.

And there you go! As I said, feel free to chime in with your own non-sequel actors…

Top 25 Best Movies (1990-2015): Nos. 5-1

This is it, loyal blog readers! We’ve reached the best of the best of my personal favorite 25 motion pictures of the past 25 years. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my picks and keep in mind that while I know your list likely differs from mine, I would encourage all of you to check out any titles on this here list you may have missed.

Our final installment brings us the top five and these are obviously pictures I hold among the greatest of all time. Let’s get to it:

5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Has any actor done more with less screen time than Anthony Hopkins in his iconic role as Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter? I think not. This masterfully constructed suspense thriller deserved the across the board Oscar attention it received – Best Picture, Director (Jonathan Demme), Actor (Hopkins), and Actress (Jodie Foster).

4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

21 years later, it doesn’t matter how many times I see Andy Dufrane (Tim Robbins) make his escape past that poster on the wall… it still gives me goosebumps. Frank Darabont’s rendering of Stephen King’s short story is one of the ultimate feel good movies of any era about a man who had to experience years of hell to find redemption. And that moment seeing Andy walk the beach to meet Morgan Freeman’s Red gets me every time, too.

3. Boogie Nights (1997)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic about people in the California porn industry came out of nowhere and instantly became one of my all time favorites. The lengthy flick with its incredible cast (Mark Wahlberg, Don Cheadle, Burt Reynolds in career best work, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham and so forth) moves us from the character’s glorious excesses of the 1970s to their dark spiral downward in the 1980s. The drug dealing scene involving Alfred Molina’s crazed character and Chinese firecrackers that serve as an amazing example of sound effects work is the crowning scene in a film filled with many of them.

2. GoodFellas (1990)

Coppola’s first two Godfather masterpieces stood as the highlight of the American Mafia film genre. In 1990, Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas made that list a trilogy. Astonishing from beginning to end, this stands as Marty’s finest hour in a career filled with fabulous work.

  1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Readers of my blog knew this was coming from a mile away and Quentin Tarantino’s time shifting crime drama/comedy served as a massive adrenaline shot to the movie industry. With an unrivaled cast that included a career resurgent role for John Travolta, Pulp merged the sensibilities of mainstream entertainment with the independent filmmaker spirit in a previously unforeseen way. In a career filled with one terrific picture after another, Pulp still stands as Quentin’s greatest. And that makes it the greatest movie of the last 25 years.

Thanks for reading, ladies and gentlemen! It was a pleasure.

This Day in Movie History: February 15

23 years ago Today in Movie History – February 15 – Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs debuted in theaters and would earn its reputation as one of the greatest thrillers of all time. The picture would take in $13.7 million in its debut weekend and eventually earn $130 million domestically. Oscar voters would shower Lambs the following year with Best Picture, Director, Actor (Anthony Hopkins), and Actress (Jodie Foster). Even though he was only onscreen for 16 minutes, Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal Lecter would represent one of the most memorable screen villains in history. Sequels would follow years later with Hannibal, Red Dragon, and Hannibal Rising.

As for birthdays, today would have marked Chris Farley’s big 5-0. The performer had a fantastic run on “Saturday Night Live” before translating his stardom into film with Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, and Beverly Hills Ninja. Farley died of a drug overdose in 1997.

Jane Seymour is 63 today. Known more for her extensive TV credits, she was a Bond girl alongside Roger Moore in 1973’s Live and Let Die. More recently she was Christopher Walken’s excitable wife in the 2005 hit comedy Wedding Crashers.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between them:

Chris Farley was in Wayne’s World 2 with Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken was in Wedding Crashers with Jane Seymour

And that’s today – February 15 – in Movie History!

This Day in Movie History: December 31

As you could probably imagine, not many movies open on New Year’s Eve so I’ll use today – December 31 – in Movie History to briefly discuss something happening right now.

2013 will turn out to be Hollywood’s biggest year yet, by just a hair. When all is said and done, box office receipts for the year should come in at approximately $10.9 billion, edging out 2012’s $10.8 billion. Per usual, the top grossing features of the year were filled with sequels (Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Fast and Furious 6) and animated titles and sequels (Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Frozen), and remakes and reboots of franchises (Man of Steel, Oz the Great and Powerful). The only truly original title in the top ten is Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which could win Best Picture at the Oscars (though 12 Years a Slave may have something to say about that).

It’ll be interesting to see if 2014 can top 2013. When you look over the list of big pics coming out next year, it seems as if it may not but you never know. One early prediction: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I (out in November) is a strong contender for highest grosser next year.

As for birthdays, Anthony Hopkins is 76 today. The actor broke through in a huge way to American audiences in 1991 with his Oscar winning performance as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Hopkins would reprise the role twice more in 2001’s Hannibal and 2002’s Red Dragon. He’s also played more real-life people than practically anyone – from C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands to Dr. Kellogg in The Road to Wellville to Richard Nixon in Oliver Stone’s Nixon to Pablo Picasso in Surviving Picasso to John Quincy Adams in Amistad to Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock last year. Hopkins was also a favorite of the Merchant/Ivory team with acclaimed performances in Howards End and The Remains of the Day. Other notables roles: Magic, The Elephant Man, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Legends of the Fall, The Edge, The Mask of Zorro, Meet Joe Black, Mission Impossible II, The Human Stain, The Wolfman, and Thor and its sequel.

Val Kilmer is 54 on this New Year’s Eve. He’s played a few real-life people as well, most notably as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s The Doors. There’s also his bit role as Elvis Presley in True Romance and porn star John Holmes in Wonderland. Then there’s his amazing performance as Doc Holliday in Tombstone. I’m still mad he didn’t get a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for that movie. There’s also Top Gun and his turn as the Caped Crusader in Batman Forever. Other notables: Top Secret!, Real Genius, Willow, Thundeheart, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Ghost and the Darkness, The Saint, Spartan, Deja Vu, and MacGruber. A personal favorite of mine: his wickedly funny comedic turn in 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang alongside Robert Downey, Jr.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between the birthday boys, it’s an easy one:

Hopkins and Kilmer were both in Oliver Stone’s Alexander

And that’s today – New Year’s Eve – in Movie History! This will be my last blog post of 2013, my friends, and I appreciate your readership so much. See you in 2014 and have a safe New Year’s!