Oftentimes, certain actors or actresses get pigeonholed into certain roles. They play one character very well in one movie and are thereafter typecast as that type of character. While it is unfortunate, Jodie Foster is one of these actresses. If you were to ask a random person on the street the first Jodie Foster film that they can think of, most often the film named is in the thriller genre. Much like Jamie Lee Curtis, who essentially founded the classic horror genre, Jodie Foster was an antagonist in many thriller-type movies, like Panic Room or Flightplan. Not that there is anything wrong with these films, it’s just that she’s been acting for nearly her whole life, so one would assume that people would at the very least name a film she was in that she actually won an award for. This week’s two films look at an Oscar-worthy performance, as well as a nomination that would propel a young actress (at the time) toward the career she has today.
The Silence of the Lambs
Length: 118 minutes / 1.96 hours
If I were to pinpoint where Jodie Foster became synonymous with thriller heroines, it would have to be in The Silence of the Lambs. Not only is her character strong and independent as a young FBI agent, but the antagonists she is put up against are some of the most memorable in cinema. It’s no wonder that she won her second Oscar (the first for Best Actress in 1988’s The Accused) for her role as Clarice Starling, which is placed at #6 of the top 100 heroes in American cinema (mere places behind The Silence of the Lambs‘ villain, Dr. Hannibal Lecter). Speaking of Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins won a Best Actor Oscar for his role as the cannibalistic killer. In fact, The Silence of the Lambs is only one of three films to have won “The Big Five Academy Awards”, which are Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (Adapted by Ted Tally).
Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is not going to let the fact that she is young or a woman deter her from being the best FBI agent she can be. When she becomes involved with a case to track down and capture a serial killer who targets women and removes their skin, she calls upon the knowledge and experience of a former psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Unfortunately, Hannibal is in jail for being a cannibalistic serial killer. Clarice slowly gets Hannibal to give her insight, but at a price that Dr. Lecter has calculated to his advantage. With a better knowledge of the madman she is trying to find, Clarice soon finds herself uncomfortably close to a man who would love nothing more than to kill her and add her skin to his sick and twisted collection.
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours
While The Silence of the Lambs has ranked as high as #65 on the America’s Film Institute’s Top 100 lists, Taxi Driver has placed as high as #47. And even though she was only nominated for an Oscar for her role in this film, one must realize that she was only 13 when Taxi Driver came out. If her first nomination here proved anything, it was that Jodie Foster would eventually develop into a truly Oscar-worthy actress. Of course, with films like Rocky and Network out in the same year, Taxi Driver didn’t win any of its four nominations, even Best Picture or Best Actor (Robert DeNiro). However, that does not make this film any less significant in Jodie Foster’s career. After all, the role she had in Taxi Driver was no easy role to play, especially for one as young as she was.
War affects many of us, but perhaps the hardest hit are the soldiers themselves. It can be difficult to readjust to a normal life after being away at war for so long. No war epitomizes this reality more than the Vietnam War. Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) is just such a soldier. Due to his insomnia obtained from damage to his mental state, he finds the best job for someone in his condition: Taxi Driver. Not only does it mean he has to stay awake for long periods of time, but it allows him to work out some pent up aggression on some of the many lowlifes one comes across when picking up fares. In an unintended turn of events, Travis comes across a teenage prostitute by the name of Iris (Jodie Foster), who he takes it upon himself to protect. After all, he fought for her freedom in Vietnam, so why shouldn’t he fight for it in New York?
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Jodie Foster feats
Bacon #: 2 (Svengali / Holly Hunter -> End of the Line / Kevin Bacon)