One of three films to ever win Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress. If you can't tell, I'm starting a thing where I'm trying to watch all the best movies I haven't seen yet. Although it's impressive the film won all those awards, and it happened to be an extremely well-done and interesting movie, I'd say Anthony Hopkins qualifying for the Best Actor nomination in the first place is quite a stretch. His portrayal of Hannibal Lecter is brilliant and terrifying, but he has less than twenty minutes of screen time. Not exactly a lead role. Otherwise, I'd say it's the best movie from 1991 I've seen. Jodie Foster is great, both vulnerable and stoic as required, and despite knowing a lot of the most famous scenes from pop culture osmosis, it was still an effectively creepy and disturbing film, so well made that its impact was not robbed by imitation and parody.
The movie has sort of an unusual story structure that warrants mentioning. Lecter is one of the best villains of the 90s at least, but he's not the principle antagonist of the story - he even helps Foster and the FBI in their attempt to stop another serial killer, even if he's less than totally forthcoming. That doesn't prevent him from being a bad guy though, as he has some evil things to do of his own. I wouldn't exactly call it a horror film, but it's certainly the most horrific one I've seen to receive so much acclaim, and it's well deserved to. It's not just people getting brutally murdered; there's an interesting mystery at work, and some examination of deep psychological issues. The fact that Lecter used to be a psychiatrist makes him that much scarier, as he always knows exactly how to twist the knife. And while Buffalo Bill is a bit less sophisticated, Ted Levine still puts on a clinic of being a messed up son of a bitch. Excellent movie.