Silence of the Lambs vs. Bugsy (1991)
There wasn't much that was comforting in this Best Picture race. Two of the nominees were too lightweight to consider: Barbra Streisand's "The Prince of Tides" and "Beauty and the Beast," the first animated film to make the cut, which was probably felt to be enough of an accolade. That left Jonathan Demme's "The Silence of the Lambs" with seven nominations in total, Oliver Stone's "JFK" with eight and Barry Levinson/Warren Beatty's "Bugsy" with ten. The race ended up being between "Lambs" and "Bugsy," with Academy insiders grumbling to New York Magazine about the fact that neither was exactly uplifting. "Bugsy" was more Old Hollywood comforting -- a glamorous take on the gangster who founded Las Vegas, starring Old Hollywood icon Warren Beatty and his new bride, Annette Bening. "Lambs" was, lest we forget, a thriller about one serial killer who eats people helping a young FBI recruit find another serial killer who wears women's skin. For only the second time in twenty years, the edgier picture won. We have to believe artistic merit triumphed again, because there just isn't any other explanation for such a gruesome film getting top prize.