Encore Entertainment’s Essential Performances of the 90s Showdowns – Game # 17

This is Part II of Encore’s World of Film & TV that was spearheaded by Andrew. I have posted GAME 13 two days ago. The goal of this tournament is to determine the single performance, chosen by you fine lovers of cinema, that is worthy to be the BEST of the decade. Andrew asked me to do a write up to a couple of the showdowns [you can see the entire bracket here].

Please take part in this well, essential blog event by casting your VOTE and make your voice heard!

Without further ado, here’s my writeup for Game 17:

Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) as Hannibal Lecter

I happened to see Silence of the Lambs in the cinema and I tell you, for a while I was so terrified of Anthony Hopkins and even the mere mention of ‘chianti’ and ‘liver’ makes me shudder. It’s no wonder his personification of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the charismatic cannibal who never blinks when he speak, was ranked #1 on the American Film Institute’s Villains in its compilation of the 100 Years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains.

Much of the iconic mannerisms: the nasty slurping sound and the creepy way he speaks Clarice’s name to taunt the young FBI officer are all improvised by the seasoned actor. Yet it takes a special skill not to overdo the creepy-ness, it takes skill to avoid becoming caricature. Such a character could easily have the opposite effect of being comical instead of sinister but Hopkins avoid the potential dilemma. He manages to forge that delicate balance of portraying a charismatic figure that effortlessly pulls you in, whilst at the same time scares the living heck out of you.


Michelle Pfeffier in The Age of Innocence (1993) as Ellen Olenska

I believe Scorsese’s period drama showcases Pfeiffer’s best work and in a way proves that she is a serious actress who somehow, unfortunately, is not regarded as such by her peers. So perhaps that’s why the beautiful actress identify so well with Ellen Olenska, an outcast in a 19th century New York high society when she is separated from her husband. Raised by a single mother in a society where divorce was still a taboo, I immediately identify with her predicament.

This is my favorite Scorsese film and though it’s not violent in the physical term, it’s definitely a vicious one in terms of matters of the heart. The conversations between Newland Archer (the sublime Daniel Day-Lewis) and Olenska are heart-wrenching, their yearning and frustration that they cannot be with each other just makes my heart bleed. Yet Olenska is not just some lovesick puppy. She is a strong woman who defies society and refuses to conceal her independence, even at the risk of being scorned by people around her. That defiance spirit is magnetic and I credit Pfeiffer’s astute performance in getting that across without being overbearing. A magnum opus from a celebrated director, and I’m glad to say the film’s stunning cinematography and costume design match the equally beautiful performances. It’s rare to see a flawed heroine depicted in such a bewitching way, but Countess Olenska is surely one of them.


Which of these is the finer performance of the 90s?

Please cast your VOTE on Andrew’s blog and/or let me know your pick and why in the comments.

22 thoughts on “Encore Entertainment’s Essential Performances of the 90s Showdowns – Game # 17

  1. As much as I prefer Brian Cox as Lector and I really like Age Of Innocence, I still have to go with Hopkins. Just look at that crazy stare he has. It’s a very fine performance.

    1. Mark, while I really liked Brian Cox’s performance I thought Tom Noonan as “The Tooth Fairy” was more memorable in that movie. Ralph Finnes performance in the remake was a little too over the top for me. I definitely preferred the Manhunter version. Some highlights: Joan Allen, in an early role, was superb. Dennis Farina playing yet another hard nosed cop/agent which shoud be no surprise as he WAS a Chicago cop before he started his acting career. Lastly remember when William Peterson was thin? LOL.

      Mark, BTW, if you like Brian Cox seek out a little known movie called L.I.E. It’s a little rough to watch because of the subject matter (it originially received an NC-17 rating but went out unrated). He plays a pedophile in a role that too many actors probably weren’t jumping at the chance to take, you know? I mean he already played a cannibal so I guess “what the heck”. Writer/director Michael Cuesta’s first movie (Six Feet Under, Dexter, Homeland). Watch for a young Paul Dano.

      1. I agree Dave, Noonan was very memorable in that film but I’d love to have seen more of Cox in that role. He was great but a bit too brief. I’m a big fan of his and had heard of the film L.I.E but didn’t know much about it. Strong subject matter indeed but I’ll check it out if you recommend it. Thanks man.

          1. I’ve yet to see Mysterious Skin and it’s been too long since Bully but i absolutely loved Happiness. The film that sprung to mind when you mentioned it was The Woodsman with Kevin Bacon.

    1. Ahah, I knew people are automatically going to think Pfeiffer’s performance is inferior to Hopkins, hence my comment about her being an ‘outcast’ as far as acting talent.

      1. Well, it is tough to compete with Hannibal the Cannibal.
        On an unrelated note, would you like to participate in a new segment I’m trying? Email me at ianosmond@gmail.com for more details if you are. It should be fun, and wouldn’t be a lot of work for you.

        1. Hey Ruth, sorry to bother you again. I’ve been trying to get a hold of you to see if you would like to do round 2 I sent you an email you can reply to, and if you are in I can send you your new year, and if not just let me know so I can find another contributor. Thanks!

          1. ruth

            Hi Ian, sorry it’s been quite busy lately with the local film fest TCFF as I’m the official blogger. When do you need it by? If it’s this week then I don’t think I can do it.

            1. ianthecool

              Ah yes, that does sound busy! I was asking the others to have things in by Sunday. But if its a couple days late, that’s fine too. But if you are too busy, i can just catch you on the next round.

              1. ruth

                Yeah I think it’s best to just catch me on the next round. Sorry Ian, I’d love to do it but just not possible right now. Thanks for asking though, very kind of you!

  2. Gotta give it to Sir Anthony. 15 minutes of screen time. One Best Actor oscar, AFI’s all-time greatest villan and still even today you can’t say ‘fava beans’ without snickering. LOL.

  3. You’ve made a great case for Pfeiffer but I’d be hard pushed to rank any of her performances up with the best of the decade. Indeed, Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite full stop. He’s just so chilling!

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