Top Ten 1991

1. The Silence Of The Lambs
2. The Double Life Of Veronique
3. Thelma & Louise
4. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
5. Beauty and the Beast
6. Raise The Red Lantern
7. The Elementary School
8. A Woman’s Tale
9. Rhapsody In August
10. The Suspended Step Of the Stork


Years of acting to modest acclaim (he was much more celebrated on stage and television, even getting a shout-out from Carol Burnett the time he was a member of her studio audience) schooled the great Anthony Hopkins in the finest points of acting for all media; it may have come a bit late, but when Jonathan Demme’s superb horror-thriller The Silence Of The Lambs was released to eager audiences and ecstatic critics, Hopkins officially became a star. You still can’t make that Fava Beans sucking sound without everyone knowing exactly what you’re talking about. He makes the soullessly evil, terrifying Hannibal Lecter someone with a beating heart and a sickening level of humanity; you cannot hate this monster, but goodness knows you’re glad not to know him personally.

Honour Roll: Robert de Niro, Cape Fear; Nick Nolte, The Prince Of Tides; River Phoenix, My Own Private Idaho; John Turturro,Barton Fink


The gorgeously ethereal Irene Jacob in Kieslowski’s masterpiece The Double Life Of Veronique gives the film so much of its heart. Enigma is the very soul of this experience, and Jacob’s constant availability to all the mystical things happening around her is no small part of why it is such a captivating watch. Her opening scene alone, where she reacts rapturously to the onset of rain during an outdoor concert performance, justifies her winning the Best Actress prize at Cannes and becoming an instant sensation. Kieslowski made a lot of wonderful films, but even if he hadn’t, this one would justify the reputation he made for himself as a world-class director before his tragically early death.

Honour Roll: Kathy Bates, Fried Green Tomatoes; Jodie Foster,The Silence Of the Lambs; Isabelle Huppert, Madame Bovary/Malina; Tilda Swinton, Edward II


The wonderful Louis B. Mayer impersonation that Michael Lerner pulls off so beautifully is the best part of the Coen Brothers’ otherwise overrated Barton Fink.  John Turturro arrives in Hollywood as a screenwriter trying to inject a little soul into his work, and Lerner’s studio head does everything he can to beat all the passion out of him. It’s a terrific send-up of Hollywood’s creative process without being mean about it, and were the film more focused on this character and not the empty quirkiness of the main character’s experiences, it would have been more memorable.

Honour Roll:  Laurence Fishburne, Boyz N The Hood; Samuel L. Jackson, Jungle Fever; Tommy Lee Jones, JFK; Jack Palance, City Slickers


I could never resist a feisty Southern matriarch.  Diane Ladd rules over Rambling Rose with graceful, burning resentment for the unfair treatment of women in her society. She’s a darling flower of demure class when it gets started, but once the titular character (played by her real-life daughter Laura Dern) finds herself in danger of having her brain tampered with to deal with her sexual desires, Ladd turns on the power and it’s impossible to turn it off afterwards. A real jewel of a performance in a genuine charmer of a film.

Honour Roll: Judy Davis, Barton Fink; Mary Stuart Masterson,Fried Green Tomatoes; Jeanne Moreau, The Suspended Step Of The Stork; Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King


Krzysztof Kieslowski, The Double Life Of Veronique

Honour Roll: Jonathan Demme, The Silence Of the Lambs; Akira Kurosawa, Rhapsody In August; Ridley Scott, Thelma And Louise; Lars Von Trier, Europa