Sunday, 31 October 2010

Best Actor 1991: Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar from his first nomination for portraying psychotic cannibalistic killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.

The Silence of the Lambs is a very effective psychological thriller and certainly is far superior than the other films with nominees for best actor this year.

One question commonly asked about Hopkins' performance is whether it is lead or supporting. This performance is one that seems to defy these distinctions, because it is incredibly short in terms of screen time, and his character is not the focus of the film. He though is one of if not the most memorable part of the film, and still seems absolutely essential to the film, despite not even really being the villain of the film. His performance really is one that I am not sure which he is but due to the quality of the rest of the actor nominees I would most certainly put his performance in the lead category.

Hopkins performance is a short one for sure, and one that can actually easily be reviewed by each of his individual scenes. Hopkins' opening scene is actually one of incredible challenge, because of the huge build up to his appearance made as Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) makes her way to him. Hopkins certainly utilizes this to great effect, since he makes a big impression as the camera pans over him oddly standing in the middle of his cell. Hopkins performance is fascinating because I am sure the way he stands and moves, the way he looks with his eyes, and his voice were all very calculated, yet in the film his performance never comes off this way. Some how it is never artificial despite the nature of the character. His first scene Hopkins brilliantly controls the film, with the way he tries to manipulate Starling. Hopkins instantly shows us a man psychotic, without showing him doing any violence, and a man with complete control of his surrounding despite the fact that he is a prisoner in a glass cell.

Foster and Hopkins simply create fascinating scenes together. They play off each other perfectly in all of their scenes, developing a bizarre yet strangely interesting relationship. They play an odd game of sorts for Hannibal's enjoyment and for Starling need for information about another killer Buffalo Bill. The game they play together could not have been done any better or more effective they simply brilliant together. Hopkins is always fascinating because of how carefully and perfectly he displays Hannibal's mile a minute mind. He reacts and attack Starling, and Hopkins does this perfectly with his manner of speaking with that brilliant voice he uses, who knew a combination of Truman Capote and Katherine would be so viscerally effective,  and with his eyes which are always piercing through, like Hannibal sees everything at all times. He mixes his odd love for Starling but also his love for the game like competition of minds without fault.

Hopkins keeps Hannibal on the right note and tone in all of his brief scenes and always makes the most of his screen time. He never over acts even though it would be so easy too, he always knows exactly to play a scene and simply gives a truly great villainous performance. Every moment in his performance really is spot on. Especially the use of his face and eyes, and certainly makes the most of every close up he has. He always conveys the evilness, psychotics and genius of Hannibal in every scene. Hopkins properly never stops with him, every scene even when he is reacting you can always see he is looking for weakness, and his chances in every moment, simply a brilliant performance. Hopkins gives makes one of the most memorable characters all in a short amount of screen time. He never faults once in a performance that could have been full of them, and gives a truly unforgettable performance.


joe burns said...

He'll win easily.

dinasztie said...

My favorite winner after Marlon Brando and Robert de Niro. Sooooo chilling. And the movie is a total favorite for me too.

Anonymous said...

Anthony Hopkins was absolutely incredible as Hannibal Lecter. I don't care if he was only on screen for about 20 minutes, he gave the best performance of the nominees BY FAR. Probably THE best performance of 1991.