Do you ever wonder about our obsession, in cinema and in literature, with serial killers? I guess it started with Jack the Ripper—the notion that someone could murder six women in such horrific fashion in the heart of the largest city in the world and get away with it understandably scared the pants off people—but I think more than that, he reminded us and subsequent serial killers continue to remind us, however obliquely, that there are forces in the universe outside our control, and outside our ability to comprehend. That, and our own day of reckoning is an inevitable as the rising of the sun.
The problem is, though, with each fictional serial killer, we have to up the ante to get a reaction from the audience. Hannibal Lecter was stylishly sinister, but pretty straight-forward by today's standards. What, he'll only bite your face off? How droll. I pretty much topped out on my limit of baroque butchery some time ago and have since retreated to the relatively bloodless mysteries of the old masters. Philip Marlowe may get thumped from time to time, and Archie Goodwin takes more than his share of guff from Nero Wolfe, but at least I never have to choose between my murders and my lunch.
By the way, Anthony Hopkins wins a Katie Award for his performance in The Silence of the Lambs, just as he won an Oscar, but here as a supporting actor rather than the lead. You may not realize it because he was so memorable in the part, but Hopkins was only on screen for sixteen minutes—by far, the shortest performance to win an Oscar in a lead acting category in history.
PICTURE (Drama) winner:The Silence of the Lambs (prod. Ronald M. Bozman, Edward Saxon and Kenneth Utt)
PICTURE (Comedy/Musical) winner:Beauty and the Beast (prod. Don Hahn)
PICTURE (Foreign Language) winner:Da hong deng long gao gao gua (Raise The Red Lantern) (prod. Fu-Sheng Chiu)
ACTOR (Drama) winner: Kevin Costner (JFK)
ACTOR (Comedy/Musical) winner: Danny DeVito (Other People's Money)
ACTRESS (Drama) winner: Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis (Thelma & Louise)
ACTRESS (Comedy/Musical) winner: Bette Midler (For the Boys)
DIRECTOR (Drama) winner: Zhang Yimou (Da hong deng long gao gao gua a.k.a. Raise The Red Lantern)
DIRECTOR (Comedy/Musical) winner: Alan Parker (The Commitments)
SUPPORTING ACTOR winner: Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS winner: Jessica Tandy (Fried Green Tomatoes)
SCREENPLAY winner: Zhen Ni, from the novel Wives and Concubines by Su Tong (Da hong deng long gao gao gua a.k.a. Raise The Red Lantern)
Named for Katie-Bar-The-Door, the Katies are "alternate Oscars"—who should have been nominated, who should have won—but really they're just an excuse to write a history of the movies from the Silent Era to the present day.
To see a list of nominees and winners as well as links to my essays about them, click here.
Remember: There are no wrong answers, only movies you haven't seen yet.
The Silent Oscars
And don't forget to check out the Silent Oscars—my year-by-year choices for best picture, director and all four acting categories for the pre-Oscar years, 1902-1927.
Look at me—Joe College, with a touch of arthritis. Are my eyes really brown? Uh, no, they're green. Would we have the nerve to dive into the icy water and save a person from drowning? That's a key question. I, of course, can't swim, so I never have to face it. Say, haven't you anything better to do than to keep popping in here early every morning and asking a lot of fool questions?