Brian Cox did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter.
Brian Cox was the first actor to play the role of one of the most famous onscreen serial killers Hannibal Lecter. Right from the outset there are some differences though not only because his last name is spelled Lecktor for some reason, but as well the film does not really make much of a mention in regard to his cannibalism even if he has the same first name. The character though does serve the same purpose of being the man an investigator goes to try to find out about something about another serial killer currently at large. This time the investigator is Will Graham (William Peterson) who successfully caught Lecktor and is seeking his help to try to understand a new killer nicknamed the Tooth Fairy (Tom Noonan).
Cox honestly goes for less the larger than life villain, although that probably contributed greatly to Hopkins turning the role into an iconic one, and more bluntly as a down to earth serial killer. Cox also plays him as a maniacal genius but in a far different way. In his first scene when he talking to Will in prison Cox plays his Lecktor as much more aggressive in his attack. He is less sneaky about it rather putting up his psychological games right to the forefront first thing. Cox delivers the game as much more a fast talking constant array of harassment toward Will. Cox method is particularly effective in making his Lecktor as man who is just constantly pestering and prodding for some sort of weakness, and rather interestingly does so with out the suave qualities Hopkins utilizes.
Both of them use there eyes very specifically in their performances and it is rather interesting to see the differences in their approaches. Hopkins keeps a constant stare as if Lecter is looking at their soul and that is his natural state. Cox rather shows it to be a put on just for will and it is quite chilling though. It adds to the blunt force intensity he brings in his Lecktor as it only adds to what he is trying to do Will. Both Hannibals want to be play a game, but Cox plays it like Lecktor honestly more like a real man who just wants to get as much pain out of a man he hates as possible. The intelligence of Hannibal is there too with Cox, but in oddly a less likable way as he is really more realistic suggesting a completely smug man who also is a psychopath to boot.
The only problem with Cox's performance is there is not much of it. He's only in three scenes and two of them are relatively brief. He's great in all in his own personal creation of Lecktor that manages a strong presence in the film despite the limited nature of the part that makes Hopkins in Lambs seem far more substantial in comparison. I really would have liked to have seen his Lecktor in the Silence of the Lambs storyline, as Cox definitely leaves his Lecktor with more areas to explore than what is seen in Manhunter. As it was though Cox in his brief time gives a disturbing depiction of the killer, and it is fascinating to see this rather different, but certainly a very effective take on the character.