2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Arguably even more relevant in today’s age of our collective growing fascination with psychopaths and serial killers than it was in 1991, Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs is undoubtedly one of the truly great “horrors of real-life” movies – those being films that present horror outside the realms of the supernatural and overexaggerated, instead offering true-to-life atrocities and villains of a distinctly human nature.
The Silence of the Lambs has all the hallmarks of classic horror, with distinct and memorable cinematography playing its most noteworthy part in introducing the imposing and threatening presence of the Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins as the now iconic Dr. Hannibal Lecter in one of the best character introductions of all time, and the commentary it offers on the gendered power structure of work and wider life being as timeless as any theme present in any of the films on this list.
Like The Sixth Sense, it’s quotable and instantly recognisable, and while it didn’t shape cinema quite like Jaws did, The Silence of the Lambs did perfect the merging of old and new, character-driven and concept-driven cinema to become one of the most important, classy and intelligent horror movies ever made.
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1. The Exorcist (1973)
William Friedkin’s classic and instantly recognisable horror masterpiece The Exorcist is actually the lowest rated of all six of these films on Rotten Tomatoes, but we don’t see this as a bad thing. It was released in the early 70s after all, in an era where vast portions of the American public were actively chasing down and chastising media that in their mind celebrated the demonic – and The Exorcist was one of a select few horrors to be so challenging in its language, its presentation of loss of innocence, its visuals and how bleak it was. It challenged people, more so than any other film on this list in fact, and that’s why it’s our number one.
As influential as Jaws to more than 2 generations of horror fans, directors and producers all looking to replicate the feeling of seeing this for the first time, and one of the rare horrors so sensational in its presentation that it can genuinely be considered an artistic masterpiece alongside it being a challenging and entertaining demonic experience, The Exorcist is as much a classic as it is an influence, as it is a quotable horror movie, as it is a cultural touchstone.
Where most movies on this list fulfil one or two of the criteria of what makes The Best Horror Movie Nominated for Best Picture of All Time, The Exorcist fulfils them all. From writing to performance, cinematography to direction, distribution to promotion and influence to longevity, The Exorcist is the greatest horror ever nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and the deserving list-topping entry in this edition of Ranked.
And that’s our list, The Exorcist being the number one horror nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. But what do you think? Would you have ordered these films differently? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on more articles this one.