Silence of the Lambs at the Oscars: A look back
Remembering the horror film's critical success on its 25th anniversary
On Feb. 14, 1991, Silence of the Lambs arrived in theaters, offering heart-stopping frights for those who opted for a slightly more spooky Valentine’s Day celebration. Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Lawrence A. Bonney, among others, the horror film brought Thomas Harris’ 1988 novel to the big screen with Hannibal Lecter along for the ride.
More than a year later, Silence of the Lambs continued to make an impact with the celebration of the 64th Academy Awards on March 30, 1992. Going in to the night, the film had seven nominations, trailing behind Bugsy with 10 and JFK with eight. By the time the final category was announced, however, Silence of the Lambs achieved the rare feat of winning all of the “Big Five” Academy Awards.
Following It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Silence of the Lambs took home the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay.
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Jonathan Demme was named Best Director, beating out John Singleton for Boyz n the Hood, Barry Levinson for Bugsy, Oliver Stone for JFK, and Ridley Scott for Thelma & Louise. Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Hannibal Lecter) beat out Warren Beatty as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel in Bugsy, Robert De Niro as Maximilian “Max” Cady in Cape Fear, Nick Nolte as Tom Wingo in The Prince of Tides, and Robin Williams as Henry “Parry” Sagan in The Fisher King to win Best Actor, while Jodie Foster (Clarice Starling) won Best Actress, edging out Geena Davis as Thelma Dickinson in Thelma & Louise, Laura Dern as Rose in Rambling Rose, Bette Midler as Dixie Leonard in For the Boys, and Susan Sarandon as Louise Sawyer in Thelma & Louise.
In the Best Adapted Screenplay category, Silence beat Europa Europa, Fried Green Tomatoes, JFK, and The Prince of Tides. Finally, the terrifying thriller took the award for Best Picture, beating out fellow nominees Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, and The Prince of Tides.
Watch the acceptance speech from producers Edward Saxon, Kenneth Utt and Ron Bozman below.