Highlights: Jodie Foster

By Jason Barney

March 10, 2010

Coincidentally, I watched this last night and highly recommend it. Catch it on HDNet all month.

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Jodie Foster is one of the most recognizable actresses in Hollywood. She is also one of the most respected. Her acting career started when she was three-years-old, when she started appearing in television commercials. In the 1970s she made had roles in several different television shows, and began her film career. Even though Foster gained some critical success as an actress in the 1980s, the most significant part of her career has come over the last two decades. These films represent Jodie Foster's most significant work.


1. CONTACT: (1997)

Already a household name by the time Foster took on the role of Dr. Eleanor Arroway, she brought intelligence, presence, and intensity to the adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel. Foster's strong on screen presence gives audiences one of her best performances, and science fiction fans one of the best genre flicks of all time. The film succeeds on multiple levels. Foster manages to portray a devoted female scientist struggling to live her dream of discovering extraterrestrial life in a world where men are the key players. She does it in a way that is respectful; but she portrays Arroway as obsessively devoted to her cause. The best of examples of this are her scenes where she has interactions with Michael Kitz (James Woods) and David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) who play men that have some influence over her career. As the events unfold in the movie she ends up in situations where Drumlin constantly competes with her, and manages to selfishly take credit for her work. Kitz, who represents the policy and political side of the government and its involvement in the plot, isn't the villain, but when contrasted to Foster's Arroway, comes pretty close to filling that role. Foster also does a wonderful job of balancing her character's emotional scars about her father's premature death with spirituality and religion, two central themes explored in the film. Contact is satisfying, thought provoking, and believable. It brought in over $170 million and Jodie Foster received a Golden Globe nomination for best actress. Thirteen years out, Contact is starting to earn cult classic status.




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2. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)

Often regarded as one of the best thrillers of all-time, Jodie Foster was perfectly cast as Clarice Starling, a young FBI agent who relies on the mind of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to help solve a crime. Silence of the Lambs is one of three films to win the top five Academy Awards with Foster and Hopkins taking home Best Actress and Best Actor. The interaction between the two is fantastic, but it is important to note that Hopkins as Lecter only received about 16 minutes of screen time. It's really Foster, and her playing off of Hopkins' creepiness, that carries the film. In their first scene together, Starling boldly visits Lecter in his prison cell. She tries to enlist his aid in capturing a criminal known as "Wild Bill." Foster is sufficiently respectful but surprisingly distant with the brilliant but deranged psychiatrist. When Starling pushes herself to become a better FBI agent, Foster's brings youthful intensity and focused attention to the role. As the plot unfolds, Starling gains some degree of confidence, believing she can use Lecter and his information to crack the case. When Lecter demands that Starling reveal some of her personal information as a quid pro quo for his help, Foster communicates her character's history as though any of us were remembering our own past. Using the information that surfaces and her instincts, she is able to track down "Wild Bill," but Lecter manages to escape. Silence of the Lambs was shot on a budget of $19 million but was an overwhelming success. It brought in over $272 million worldwide.


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