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[Vintage Video] Watch ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ Become Only Horror Film to Ever Win Best Picture

Silence of the Lambs was released on this day in 1991.

Many film fans prefer to call Silence of the Lambs a thriller or perhaps even a crime drama, but let’s be real here: it is, at the end of the day, a horror movie. I recently spoke with filmmaker Joe Lynch about this, and he summed it up better than I ever could: “I get how it could be seen as non-horror,” he told me, “but that movie is straight up Gothic Horror using crime film tropes.”

The bummer of some horror fans refusing to accept Silence of the Lambs as a horror movie? It takes away from the film one of its biggest and most awesome claims to fame: it is, to date and probably forever, the only horror movie to EVER be crowned Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

At the 1992 ceremony, Silence of the Lambs not only won Best Picture but pretty much swept the whole damn night. It became, at the time, only the third film in Oscar history to conquer the “big five” categories; Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster won Best Actor and Best Actress, Ted Tally won Best Adapted Screenplay, and Jonathan Demme won Best Director.

The film was also nominated in the editing and sound categories.

Mind you, other classic horror films like Jaws and The Exorcist were nominated for Best Picture, and many horror movies have been nominated in other categories over the years, but in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards, Silence of the Lambs is the only one that ever took home the golden statue for Best Picture. So please. Call it what it is: an exceptional horror movie.

Check out vintage videos of all the film’s Oscar wins below!



  • Royal Rican Prince

    Excellent & brilliant on all levels!

  • Abandoned_Being

    The film that gave us one of the most fascinating villains in movie history thanks to Hopkins’ performance.

  • Not a horror film.

    • The Fucked Up

      Care to elaborate?

      • What’s to elaborate? It’s a thriller, not a horror film.

        • Abandoned_Being

          It’s both.

          • Se7en is a horror-thriller. Silence has several horror elements, but overall it is much more thriller than horror.

          • Saltoner

            This is a non-winnable argument. The only thing that’s certain, is Sesame Street is not horror.

          • Rohan

            Speak for yourself. The count still haunts my nightmares, counting down the seconds until he steals my soul.

        • Modok

          That’s ridiculous. Thriller definitely was a horror film. It had werewolves and zombies!

  • KSE1977

    Ah, I see what you did there, the obligatory click bait story designed to restart the debate about what is, or is not a horror film. Like many, this movie has never been regarded by me as a horror film. A thriller certainly, one of the best movies made, without a doubt, but not what I would consider a horror film. This was far more of a police procedural, along the lines of Kiss the girls, which nobody considers a horror story. Granted the movie version of Silence of the Lambs is better on every level, but still I would never think of it at as horror film. All the best to those that do. Variety is the spice of life 🙂


    A thriller tends to exist in the world as we understand it, a horror movie usually tries to present the audience with something we don’t understand. Silence of the Lambs is a thriller, not a horror movie.

    • I agree and disagree… I think it’s not that straightforward to define a thriller from a horror all the time, but you make a good point. At the same time that rule could apply to Silence of the Lambs as a horror movie because arguably the scariest thing about the movie is Lecter and the fact that he eats people, which is something that we’ll always be uncomfortable with and won’t understand.

      Still I’d say it’s more a thriller than a horror, but I think it’s fair to class it as either.

      • WALKTER

        I agree that the line between horror and thriller isn’t easily defined. They share alot of the same themes and both set out to elicit the same response from their audiences. When I said horror films present audiences with something we don’t understand, I meant something inconceivable, like Jason or Freddy’s immortality or Jigsaw’s convoluted traps. Both horror and thriller films require the suspension of disbelief, typically with thrillers it’s not as big of an ask as it is with horror. Lecter’s cannibalism is disturbing, but not inconceivable, serial killers engaging in acts of cannibalism was and is, unfortunately, fairly common. Lambs is more grounded in reality, and doesn’t focus on the horrific aspects as much as horror films tend to. It’s as much a horror movie as saw is a thriller.

    • Saltoner

      Whoever understand the methods and reasons to why Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lector do what they do, is a monster themselves.

  • Hash-Slinging Slasher

    You can shove that fake award right up your ass!

    • Saltoner

      Totally agree, the Oscars are Hollywood sucking its own dick and more times than not they get it wrong. But what we do have to understand is that these awards are a driving force in the entertainment industry and to have a movie like this win, is a win overall for horror.

  • RedNeoCon

    JAWS & Exorcist should have won as well. Just saying’……

  • Saltoner

    Most definitely a horror movie. Those who think it isn’t either doesn’t know about film, or doesn’t understand the horror genre.

  • Rohan

    “Silence of the Lambs is not a horror movie”
    Silence of the Lambs is about an FBI agent who has to cooperate with a cannibal (cannibal means person who consumes the flesh of other people) to catch a serial killer who skins his victims to make a female skin suit. Calling Silence of the Lambs a ‘police procedural’ is like calling Reanimator a ‘Doctor Drama’

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