best film:   Taxi Driver is the answer here over The Silence of the Lambs. Jodie Foster plays Iris Steensma in Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece and her role is no cameo- she received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her work here and this is a difficult (and showy) role that easily could have gone wrong. Jodie’s Iris is the most controversial part of this controversial film. Jodie steals some scenes from De Niro- or at least spars equally- that is Robert De Niro in 1976-  in the prime of his career,  with young not-quite-fourteen Jodie Foster. This is a strong category for Foster, this is one of Scorsese’s seminal films, and he is one of cinema’s seminal filmmakers.



If this is Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader’s update on The Searchers, well Jodie’s Iris is Natalie Wood’s Debbie role- except here there is much more meat on the bone for Foster in the role than there ever was for Wood.



best performance:  The Silence of the Lambs. Foster’s Clarice Starling is the film’s narrative vehicle and her work here should not be overlooked just because it does not quite have the flair that Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Hannibal Lecter does. It is difficult to imagine another actor in Foster’s role. She deals with real male stare throughout the film (cops at the funeral home, with Scott Glenn’s character, with Lecter, the Dr. Chilton character) without being a sex object, seductress or damsel in distress. she is a character with grit and balls to put it bluntly—she is both smart, shy (a rarity for a great film character) and inherently good.



repeat viewings of Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs reward Foster’s nuanced performance. Understandable of course, but the first watch is almost all about the work of Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Both actors benefit from Demme’s penchant and talent for shooting close-ups.



stylistic innovations/traits:   Jodie Foster is the envy of many an actor as she never had to trade upon her looks or sex appeal and was still a star in Hollywood and great actor for decades. Foster is yet another child actor who transitioned to a brilliant career as an adult. She worked with Scorsese twice in the mid-1970s as a twelve (12) year old and young teen. Foster won a pair of lead Oscars in 1988 and 1991 for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs respectively. She often plays characters of great inner strength, intellect, and independence- and she excels playing these characters. Her archiveable resume is a little light since her second Oscar – but her place in history is secure with her twin performances in masterpieces, one as a child and one as an adult, in Taxi Driver and The Silence of the Lambs. 



Foster in David Fincher’s Panic Room (2002) do not even try to watch a Fincher film during the day or with lights on in your home– each image is consistent, part of a whole. Nicole Kidman was originally cast in the Meg Altman role that ultimately went to a very solid Jodie Foster here.




directors worked with:    Martin Scorsese (2), Woody Allen (1), Jonathan Demme (1), Robert Zemeckis (1), David Fincher (1), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1) and Spike Lee (1)




top five performances:

  1. The Silence of the Lambs
  2. Taxi Driver
  3. Panic Room
  4. The Accused
  5. Contact



archiveable films

1974- Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
1976- Bugsy Malone
1976- Taxi Driver
1988- The Accused
1991- Shadows and Fog
1991- The Silence of the Lambs
1997- Contact
2002- Panic Room
2004- A Very Long Engagement
2006- Inside Man