Best Picture: The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs also won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Jodie Foster), Directing (Jonathan Demme), and Writing – Screenplay based on material from another medium (Ted Tally).
The Silence of the Lambs was the first film since One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) to sweep the Best Actor, Best Actress, Directing, Writing and Best Picture categories.
Billy Crystal was the host. For his first entrance, he was wheeled on stage strapped to a dolly, wearing a replica of the Hannibal Lecter mask Anthony Hopkins had worn in The Silence of the Lambs.
When Jack Palance won Best Supporting Actor for City Slickers, he delighted the audience by doing some one-armed pushups on stage.
Alan Menken won for Original Score and Original Song, both written for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Menken co-wrote the title song with lyricist Howard Ashman.
Beauty and the Beast was the first fully animated feature to receive a Best Picture nomination. (Mary Poppins, in 1964, was partially animated.)
Jodie Foster won her second Oscar in four years.
Robert Richardson won the Oscar for Cinematography (JFK) and became the first American cinematographer to win in that category in 15 years since Haskell Wexler’s 1976 award for Bound for Glory.
In January 1991, serial killer Aileen Wuornos was arrested.
In February 1991, the state of Michigan barred Dr. Jack Kevorkian from using his suicide machine.
On March 3, 1991, amateur video captured the prolonged beating of Rodney King, an African-American motorist, by several white Los Angeles Police Department officers who hit, stomped, and kicked him after he’d led them on a high-speed chase.
On April 1, 1991, Comedy Central was launched.
In May 1991, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to address the United States Congress.
In June 1991, President Zachary Taylor’s body was exhumed to ascertain if his death on July 9, 1850, had been caused by arsenic poisoning. No trace of arsenic was found.
On September 6, 1991, the name Saint Petersburg was restored to Russia’s second largest city, which had been renamed Leningrad in 1924.
On September 22, 1991, the Huntington Library in San Marino, California made a master set of microfilm negatives of the Dead Sea Scrolls available for viewing by the public for the first time. Previously, the scrolls had been available only to an extremely limited number of researchers.
In October 1991, law professor Anita Hill testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
On November 7, 1991, basketball legend Earvin Magic Johnson announced his retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers, after testing positive for HIV. Johnson was one of the first sports stars to go public about his HIV-positive status.
On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev officially resigned as president of the defunct Soviet Union and handed power over to Boris Yeltsin, the Russian president and leader of the new Commonwealth of Independent States.
To Satyajit Ray, in recognition of his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world.
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
To George Lucas.