The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
What is it? The adaptation of Thomas Harris' serial killer bestseller, with Jodie Foster as FBI trainee Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins in a career-making turn as sociopath Hannibal Lecter. Starling seeks the imprisoned Lecter's help to catch a serial killer - but he has his own plans.
Why did it win? This one's a real surprise here: it was released the previous January, and Oscar voter memories aren't usually nearly so long. It may be a potboiler of a story, but the great performances, oodles of atmosphere and sharp script do make for a great film that's easy to underestimate now after the many rip-offs we've seen since. Only the third film in history to win the big five awards - Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Actress.
Did it deserve to win? A surprising one, but among these nominees it was probably not undeserving: it was up against Beauty and the Beast (the only animated nominee ever), Bugsy (just OK), JFK (too paranoid) and The Prince of Tides (too weepy). If Thelma & Louise, Cape Fear or Barton Fink had been nominated, however, we might have a different view.
Worth a look? Yes. Try it with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.