The financial outlook may be shaky for Orion Pictures Corp., but the company keeps collecting awards. This year’s hit suspense film “The Silence of the Lambs” is the latest example.
On Tuesday, the movie was selected as best of the year by the 25-member New York Film Critics Circle. The thriller, based on the book by Thomas Harris, also took awards for best director, Jonathan Demme; best actor, Anthony Hopkins; and best actress, Jodie Foster.
Hopkins played the cannibalistic Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Foster his FBI agent-nemesis in the movie, which has grossed $130 million to date.
Earlier this week, the National Board of Review also awarded top prizes to “Silence of the Lambs” for best picture and director, but cited Hopkins as best supporting actor. The National Board of Review is not primarily a critics group; its membership includes film historians and scholars.
Whether Hopkins’ role in the movie is a leading part or a supporting one is a frequent topic in Hollywood circles, as the industry begins to consider nominations for the Academy Awards. A spokesman for Orion Pictures said Tuesday there is “no question the company is pushing a nomination for Hopkins as best actor.”
“Silence” producer Ed Saxon, one of the film’s New York-based producers, said he had “always thought that Hopkins is the leading actor in the movie and should be eligible for best actor. But to also win for supporting actor? It’s nothing to complain about.”
This week’s double victory for “Silence of the Lambs” was a sharp contrast to the voting over the weekend by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. That group gave top honors to the Barry Levinson film “Bugsy.”
Despite the differences, the honors accorded to “Silence of the Lambs” and “Bugsy” would indicate they are strong contenders for Academy Award nominations. The Oscar nominees will be announced on Feb.19.
Often, the winners of the critics’ awards go on to receive Oscar nominations, but not necessarily the Oscar itself. Last year, in a rare confluence of West Coast and East Coast thinking, Martin Scorsese’s “GoodFellas” was the choice of the Los Angeles and New York critics as best picture, and went on to receive six Academy Award nominations. But “Dances With Wolves” won top Oscar honors.
If Orion’s “Silence of the Lambs” goes on to win the Oscar, it would be its fourth best picture in eight years, after “Amadeus,” “Platoon” and “Dances With Wolves.”
A third major critics group, the National Society of Film Critics, will vote on Jan. 5.
Besides citing “Silence of the Lambs,” the National Board of Review gave best actor honors to Warren Beatty for “Bugsy,” and it split best actress honors between Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon for their title roles in “Thelma and Louise.” Kate Nelligan was named best supporting actress for her role in “Frankie and Johnny.”
The New York Film Critics Circle winners and runners-up:
* Picture: “The Silence of the Lambs”; runner-up, “My Own Private Idaho.”
* Director: Jonathan Demme, “The Silence of the Lambs”; runner-up, Gus Van Sant, “My Own Private Idaho.”
* Actor: Anthony Hopkins, “The Silence of the Lambs”; runner-up, River Phoenix, “My Own Private Idaho.”
* Actress: Jodie Foster, “Silence of the Lambs”; runners-up, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, “Thelma and Louise.”
* Supporting actor: Samuel L. Jackson, “Jungle Fever”; runner-up, Steven Hill, “Billy Bathgate.”
* Supporting actress: Judy Davis, for roles in “Barton Fink” and “The Naked Lunch”; runner-up, Juliette Lewis, “Cape Fear.”
* Screenplay: David Cronenberg, “The Naked Lunch”; runner-up, Calder Willingham, “Rambling Rose.”
* Cinematography: Roger Deakins, “Barton Fink”; runner-up, Freddie Francis, “Cape Fear”
* New director: John Singleton, “Boyz N the Hood”; runner-up, Anthony Minghella, “Truly, Madly, Deeply.”
* Foreign-language film: “Europa, Europa,” the Netherlands.
* Documentary: “Paris Is Burning.”
The winners will be honored in a ceremony Jan. 12.