30 Best Picture Winners You Can Stream Right Now

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Picking any given year’s Oscar winners is far from an exact science. Of the nearly 90 movies that have been named Best Picture since the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, there’s no clear-cut recipe for what makes a successful film. In the past 10 years alone, we’ve seen a quirky crime drama (No Country for Old Men), a gritty war flick (The Hurt Locker), a black-and-white silent film (The Artist), an inspiring slavery epic (12 Years a Slave), an experimental meditation on the life of an actor (Birdman), and a moving chronicle of a young man growing up in Miami at three stages of his life (Moonlight) all claim the Academy’s top prize. And as the 90th Academy Awards are sure to add yet another distinctive film to that list, there’s still time for you to bone up on Best Pictures past. Here are 30 Best Picture winners you can stream right now.

1. WINGS (1927)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

William Wellman’s romantic war drama, about a love triangle involving two WWI fighter pilots and one Clara Bow, holds the distinction of being named the Academy’s very first Best Picture winner.

2. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

At nearly four hours long, Victor Fleming’s adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book—about the tumultuous love life of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), the ultimate Southern Belle—is the longest film to be named Best Picture.

3. CASABLANCA (1942)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, Filmstruck

Like Gone With the Wind before it, Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca—about an American expat (Humphrey Bogart) running a nightclub in Morocco, and occasionally dabbling in some less legal business ventures, who bumps into a lost love (Ingrid Bergman)—is one of those films that any card-carrying cineaste must watch at least once in his or her life (or risk misquoting it, as so many others do).

4. MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969)

Where to watch it: iTunes, Amazon, HBO

Since the X rating was done away with in 1990, Midnight Cowboy—John Schlesinger’s trippy buddy movie about a wannabe gigolo and a small-time criminal trying (and failing) to make a name for themselves with New York City's Upper East Side ladies—will forever be known as the only X-rated film to be named Best Picture.

5. THE GODFATHER (1972)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, Netflix

Francis Ford Coppola didn’t invent the mob crime genre, but he may as well have. More than 40 years after its original release, The Godfather remains a quintessential film—and not just in terms of its own genre. If your most recent viewing(s) of the movie have been on network television, you owe it to yourself—and the art of cinema as a whole—to set aside three hours of quiet time to bask in its mastery.

6. THE GODFATHER: PART II (1974)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, Netflix

In 1975, The Godfather: Part II became the first sequel to win the Oscar for Best Picture. And rightfully so. Coppola’s continuation of the Corleone family’s saga managed to capture all of the brilliance of the first film, while adding new layers of complexity to the story. Unfortunately, the same cannot exactly be said for the third entry in the trilogy.

7. ROCKY (1976)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Rocky is the script that Sylvester Stallone purports to have written in three days. It’s also the script that he refused to sell without having himself attached as the lead, even though he was destitute. Sly stuck to his guns and the rest is movie history. The story of a washed-up boxer who somehow almost manages to beat the champ is perhaps the greatest American-made David vs. Goliath story in Hollywood history. The film turned Stallone into an A-list name and earned him nods for both writing the film and starring in it. 

8. AMADEUS (1984)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Amadeus, much like the music of the man it is named for, gets better with age. The lavish film tells the tragic story of musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his spiral into the depths of obsession and insanity at the hands of his nemesis, fellow composer Antonio Salieri. As life often imitates art, F. Murray Abraham (Salieri) beat out Tom Hulce (Mozart) for the Best Actor Oscar.

9. PLATOON (1986)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

More than a decade after the Vietnam War ended, Hollywood was still reluctant to delve into its subject matter. But Oliver Stone changed that with Platoon, a semi-autobiographical account of the psychological and moral issues a young soldier (Charlie Sheen) faces after abandoning his privileged life to voluntarily enlist in the U.S. Army.

10. RAIN MAN (1998)

Where to watch it: iTunes, Amazon

Prior to Rain Man, no one knew much, if anything, about autism. Barry Levinson’s film brought the condition into the public consciousness, even if it did show it in a quirky light. The film is a classic road movie that follows Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) and his unassuming—and only recently discovered—brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) as they watch The People’s Court and buy underwear at Kmarts across the country.

11. DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Dances With Wolves—which follows Civil War Lt. John Dunbar’s assimilation into the Sioux tribe—was the first Western to win the Academy’s most prestigious award since 1931’s Cimarron. Star Kevin Costner also took home the gold for directing, but missed out on the Best Actor award (he was bested by Jeremy Irons, who won for Reversal of Fortune).

12. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Director Jonathan Demme made genre history when The Silence of the Lambs became the first (and so far only) horror movie to be named Best Picture. It’s also one of only three films to win all Big Five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (for Anthony Hopkins), and Best Actress (Jodie Foster).

13. UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

One of only three westerns to be named Best Picture (the aforementioned Dances With Wolves and Cimarron being the other two), Unforgiven stars Clint Eastwood (who also directed the film) as Bill Munny, an erstwhile shootist who is brought out of retirement to collect on one last bounty.

14. FORREST GUMP (1994)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

“Run, Forrest, run!” is as firmly entrenched in the popular lexicon as any other famous movie quote—as are many other of this film’s catchphrases (there were enough to fill a book, apparently). And part of the thanks for that goes to Tom Hanks, who earned a consecutive Best Actor Oscar (following 1993’s Philadelphia) for playing the film’s namesake, who has an uncanny ability to inadvertently shape history, from teaching Elvis how to move his pelvis to blowing the lid on the Watergate break-in.

15. BRAVEHEART (1995)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Braveheart’s hair, makeup, costuming, and production design departments more than make up for the film’s lack of historical accuracy. Featuring some of the finest mullets and war paint ever put on celluloid, Braveheart recounts the life of Scottish legend William Wallace and his struggle against the truculent Longshanks (King Edward I of England). The movie culminates in perhaps the most memorable disembowelment scene in recent film history.

16. THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

In case you’ve forgotten, this is the movie that ostensibly introduced the world to the "suprasternal notch." Largely through flashbacks, The English Patient recounts a torrid love affair between a cartographer (Ralph Fiennes) and a seemingly happily married woman (Kristin Scott Thomas) who find themselves thrown together in a surveying expedition circa WWII.

17. TITANIC (1997)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Girl meets boy. Girl gets boy. Girl loses boy to icy, underwater grave by way of the Titanic disaster. That old story. This was the film that catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio to stardom amidst the cacophony of collective screams let out by the world’s 13-year-old female population. Remember when director James Cameron infamously (if not nerdily) intoned, “I’m the king of the world!” during his Best Director Oscar acceptance speech? That happened.

18. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Shakespeare In Love tells the story about that time Shakespeare lost and then regained his mojo. Gwyneth Paltrow took home the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the Bard’s muse, and Dame Judi Dench notched a Best Supporting award for her role as Queen Elizabeth I, even though she only appeared on the screen for eight minutes—and in the same year that Cate Blanchett was nominated for playing the same character in Elizabeth, no less.

19. AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

American Beauty’s tagline states, “Look Closer.” That just about sums it up as this film digs beneath the flimsy surface of a seemingly placid and pristine suburban neighborhood and turns it on its head. The film, which was Sam Mendes’s directorial debut, also gave the world new respect for windblown pieces of garbage.

20. GLADIATOR (2000)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Ridley Scott’s Gladiator marked Russell Crowe’s first (and so far only) Best Actor victory. It tells the story of Maximus, a Roman general who is betrayed, sold into slavery, and forced to fight as—you guessed it—a gladiator.

21. A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

A Beautiful Mind, the first collaboration between Ron Howard and Russell Crowe, tells the true story of famed mathematician John Nash and his struggle with schizophrenia. In addition to its Best Picture win, the film took home Oscars for Best Director (Ron Howard), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Connelly), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Though nominated for Best Actor, Crowe lost to Denzel Washington for Training Day.

22. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Though it’s debated by fans whether the third installment in Peter Jackson’s lauded The Lord of The Rings trilogy is truly the best of the three films, what’s not in dispute is that it was the last film. And as such, the epic three-film endeavor—as a whole—demanded recognition from the Academy. The Return of The King mounted the biggest sweep in Oscar history, winning all 11 awards for which it was nominated (which, surprisingly, did not include a single acting nod).

23. THE DEPARTED (2006)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

After seven nominations and no wins, Martin Scorsese finally earned a long-overdue Best Director statuette for 2006’s The Departed, an English language retelling of Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs. The film was loosely based on infamous Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, and chock full of bad Boston accents (plus very real Boston accents, courtesy of Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg).

24. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007)

Where to watch it: iTunes, Amazon

Adapted by the Coen brothers from Cormac McCarthy’s novel, No Country For Old Men is a quintessential American story of greed, violence, and disillusionment. Less about the plot and more about the chase, the film garnered the Coens Oscars for Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and Javier Bardem was named Best Actor for his terrifying performance as Anton Chigurh.

25. THE HURT LOCKER (2008)

Where to watch it: Amazon, Netflix, Hulu

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to be named Best Director for her work on The Hurt Locker, an unrelenting look at the psychology of warfare, as seen through the eyes of an American bomb squad in Iraq.

26. THE KING’S SPEECH (2010)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

From laughing stock to maestro of one of Great Britain’s finest public addresses, The King’s Speech tells the true story of King George VI’s triumph over stuttering. The film took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler).

27. THE ARTIST (2011)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Director Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist is only the second silent film to win the Oscar for best picture (1927’s Wings, the Academy's first Best Picture winner, is the other). A love story about a silent film star’s journey toward obscurity in the midst of the “talkie” revolution, The Artist also turned its star, Jean Dujardin, into the first-ever French actor to take home a Best Actor trophy.

28. ARGO (2012)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Ben Affleck directed and starred in this true story about a fabricated sci-fi movie production that was used to free six Americans hiding in Tehran during the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis. Argo took home awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing, but did not notch a victory for its director. (Incidentally, it was producer George Clooney who was supposed to be at the film’s helm; when his Ides of March ran into scheduling conflicts, he handed the project over to Affleck.)

29. 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

Based on actual events, 12 Years A Slave is the amazing story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Filmmaker Steve McQueen made history with the film in 2014 when he became the first black producer to receive a Best Picture Oscar and the first black director behind the camera of a Best Picture-winning film.

30. BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes

When Alejandro González Iñárritu won the Best Director Oscar for The Revenant in 2016, it marked his second in a row, following 2015's win for Birdman, which tells the story of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), an over-the-hill actor who tries to prove his worth as a thespian by starring in his own theatrical production of a Raymond Carver story. Unfortunately, Riggan cannot escape his past—which haunts him in the form of a superhero in a bird suit.

13 Delicious Facts About Hannibal

Brooke Palmer, NBCUniversal Media
Brooke Palmer, NBCUniversal Media

In 2013, producer Martha De Laurentiis, writer Bryan Fuller, and a talented cast and crew set about crafting a new version of the Hannibal Lecter story. It was a daring proposition after the character and his world had been so clearly defined by Sir Anthony Hopkins’s portrayal of the character and Hannibal’s presence in four novels and five feature films, but Fuller had an idea no one else had approached yet. He wanted to tell the story of the cannibal psychiatrist and the empathetic profiler who ultimately caught him as the story of two lives linked by mutual insanity. Audiences could not have seen it coming, but what they got was one of the most stylish, visually arresting, and psychologically complex horror shows to ever hit television.

Hannibal only lasted three seasons, but in its short time on the air it amassed loads of critical acclaim and a ravenous fan base known as “Fannibals,” many of whom are still holding out hope for the show’s return. With the show’s influence and impact still fresh in our imaginations more than five years after it made its debut, here are 13 facts about the making of Hannibal.

1. BRYAN FULLER GOT THE JOB BECAUSE OF A FATEFUL PLANE RIDE.

Bryan Fuller is a lifelong fan of horror, and a longtime fan of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter novels, but he did not set out to snag the Hannibal job. In fact, he wasn’t even necessarily aware of the job until it found him, on a flight to New York City where he happened to be seated near an old friend: Katie O’Connell, who was the then-new CEO of the Gaumont Film Company’s U.S. television division. O’Connell told Fuller she was developing a Hannibal series, and asked him if he thought there was a show there—not to offer him the job, but just to get his feedback. In response, Fuller asked if Gaumont had the rights to Will Graham, the protagonist of Harris’s novel Red Dragon, because he was fascinated by one line in that novel that signified a much deeper relationship between Graham and Lecter that audiences and readers had never quite seen.

“Because I had read the books, I knew how much more psychologically complex Will Graham is in the literature than he is in the film. I thought, Wow, there’s a great opportunity to deliver on that line from Red Dragon that Hannibal Lecter says, which is, ‘You caught me because you’re as insane as I am.’ There’s a whole world in that explores their friendship,” Fuller said. “If we are dealing with the Hannibal Lecter who’s a practicing psychiatrist and a practicing cannibal, then he’s out in the open amongst us, a wolf in psychiatrist’s clothing, and wouldn’t that be such a terrifying thing for someone like Will Graham, who is uniquely vulnerable to his own psychology, to have somebody there with access to the buttons of his mind.”

Fuller’s thoughts on Hannibal and Will Graham set in motion an idea for a kind of Red Dragon prequel that would also serve as a mash-up of all of Harris’s writings on the character. That in turn led to a meeting with Martha De Laurentiis of the Dino De Laurentiis Company, which in turn led to a meeting at NBC which got the show greenlit.

2. THE SERIES BEGAN LIFE AS A CLARICE STARLING STORY WITH MGM.

Hugh Dancy and Julian Richings in 'Hannibal'
Brooke Palme, NBCUniversal Media

Before Bryan Fuller entered the picture, and even before Gaumont Television began working on developing the series, Martha De Laurentiis was considering some kind of new Hannibal Lecter project, but wasn’t interested in making yet another film based on the works of Thomas Harris. While Fuller’s concept ultimately latched onto the dynamic between Lecter and Graham, De Laurentiis said that before that happened there was the idea of revisiting The Silence of the Lambs pairing of Lecter and FBI agent Clarice Starling.

“We actually were toying with the idea—with MGM, who has the Clarice character, from the library of Orion Pictures that did Silence of the Lambs—and we were talking about doing something Clarice and Hannibal in the time period after Silence of the Lambs, but we really didn’t take it very far,” De Laurentiis said. “In fact, I felt that perhaps Hannibal would be a very, very minor character and then perhaps just disappear, and I didn’t feel that was right for the character of Hannibal Lecter.”

So, through working with Katie O’Connell at Gaumont, De Laurentiis was connected with Fuller, and the collaboration that would bring us Hannibal began.

3. FULLER ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED A SEVEN-SEASON PLAN.

Though Red Dragon was a major inspiration on the direction of the show because of its depiction of the Lecter/Graham dynamic, Fuller and company set Hannibal in the years leading up to that story in order to show audiences what Lecter was like as “a practicing psychiatrist and a practicing cannibal,” as Fuller put it. That meant reading between the lines of Harris’s novel to develop the relationship that would ultimately lead the two characters down the path of Red Dragon, and lead Hannibal as a character into his life as documented by Harris, when he was a captured serial killer and then an escaped fugitive. In the end, the mash-up quality of the series allowed Fuller to play with many of those elements of Lecter’s life outside of Harris’s chronology, but as the series was first taking shape, Fuller imagined a seven-season plan that would ultimately adapted Harris’s first three Lecter novels and then go beyond them.

“Well, when you get into season four, you get into the literature. And so season four would be Red Dragon, season five would be The Silence of the Lambs era, season six would be the Hannibal era, and then season seven would be a resolve to the ending of that book," Fuller said. "Hannibal ends on a cliffhanger. Hannibal Lecter has bonded with Clarice Starling and brainwashed her and they are now quasi-lovers and off as fugitives, and so that’s a cliffhanger. It might be interesting to resolve that in some way and to bring Will Graham back into the picture. So once we get two more seasons, say, of the television show, those are the aren’t-novelized stories, and then we would get into expansions of the novels after that and kind of using the novels as a backbone for season arcs that would then be kind of enhanced.”

Of course, plans change, and the adaptation of Red Dragon ultimately came in the second half of the show’s third season, but it’s clear Fuller had big ambitions to chart the full course of Hannibal’s criminal career.

4. A REAL CHEF DESIGNED ALL THOSE CANNIBAL RECIPES.

Mads Mikkelsen in 'Hannibal'
NBCUniversal Media

Hannibal Lecter isn’t just a cannibal—he is a cannibal gourmand and gourmet, a lover of the finer things who doesn’t just want to eat human flesh, but prepare it in exquisite and refined ways. Fuller knew this, and he also immediately knew he needed someone with tremendous food expertise to help him make the series. So he turned to a chef of whom he was already a fan: José Andrés, owner of the restaurant The Bazaar in Beverly Hills.

"I have a limited knowledge of the culinary. And Hannibal Lecter has to be smarter than I am in the kitchen," Fuller said. "José gives insight into his expertise; he's omnipresent in every food scene."

When work on the series began, Fuller and Andrés began a series of conversations in which the chef explained that every part of the human body is in some way edible, right down to the bones, which can be ground up and used as thickener. With this in mind, Fuller sought to not just write scenes in which Hannibal is cooking human body parts, but to craft elaborate metaphors in each dinner scene (for example, the scene in which he serves “lamb tongue” to Dr. Frederick Chilton), on which he heavily consulted Andrés during the writing process. Andrés would develop a recipe, which food stylist Janice Poon would then prepare and arrange on set, complete with the elaborate tablescapes which came to dominate so much of the look of the show. The “food porn” Fuller insisted on became so popular with fans that Poon started a blog about the process, and even eventually produced a cookbook.

5. SEVERAL ROLES WERE RACE- AND GENDER-SWAPPED.

In writing Hannibal, Fuller considered Harris’s writing—particularly Red Dragon—to be a kind of guiding Bible, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t take liberties. He aged up the title character, which among other things removes Lecter’s traumatic childhood experiences during World War II from consideration, but perhaps the most notable changes came in casting. Several key roles in the series were ultimately given to actors of different races and even genders than they were previously depicted, in an effort to increase the diversity of the cast. So, Hannibal gave us black actors in the roles of previously white characters Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley), and the previously male characters Alan Bloom and Freddy Lounds became Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) and Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki).

“Because it’s a more accurate representation of the world, and if we just did Red Dragon again, it’d be a sausage party with a bunch of white guys,” Fuller told Bloody Disgusting. “I mean, when I first started writing, my protagonists were always young women, and there’s something about that point of view ... you can do some things with a female character that you can’t do with a male character. Like, I always think that, to make a character female gives you so many more opportunities of expression.”

6. DAVID TENNANT ALMOST PLAYED HANNIBAL.

David Tennant in 'Jessica Jones'
Myles Aronowitz, Netflix

Hugh Dancy was the first star cast in the series, joining Hannibal as Will Graham in the spring of 2012, but casting the title role took a little bit longer. After all, how do you recast a part that Anthony Hopkins basically owned thanks to three films and one Oscar? Ultimately, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen won the role, but he wasn’t the only star considered. At one point, Fuller was meeting with Doctor Who and Jessica Jones star David Tennant about the role.

“I met [Hannibal executive producer] Bryan Fuller a couple of times, and we talked about it,” Tennant told Entertainment Weekly. “But I think they quite wisely chose Mads Mikkelsen, I think he was a perfect choice for it, and I think he did things with that character that I wouldn’t have managed, so I think the right man got the job.”

7. CENSORS WERE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS.

For a show like Hannibal, elaborate crime scenes full of mutilated bodies were always going to be part of the process, which adds even more credence to the idea that such a series might be better suited to cable than a broadcast network. At NBC, though, Fuller took a very hands-on approach to crafting the various gruesome murders with the help of the network's standards and practices department. Rather than script or shoot something and then get into a fight with network censors about what he couldn’t show, Fuller would reach out directly with his ideas first, and then work with them to depict the best possible NBC-friendly version of the scene. As a result, he learned a few tricks to get around broadcast TV’s violence limitations.

“The redder the blood and the brighter the blood the less you can show,” he said. “So if you darken the blood and throw it into shadow, then you can be much more graphic than your normally would be able to.”

As it happens, dark shadowy blood matches Hannibal’s overall aesthetic perfectly, so that particular note worked out for everyone.

8. ONE EPISODE NEVER AIRED ON NBC.

It was never any secret that Hannibal would be the kind of show that dealt with graphic and heinous crimes. Its two main characters are a serial killer and a man who hunts serial killers, after all. Still, even Fuller has his limits, and after a particularly violent few months in America in late 2012 and early 2013, he asked NBC to pull the fourth episode of the show’s first season. “Oeuf,” the episode in question, involved a woman (Molly Shannon) brainwashing children into killing their own families. Fuller felt that “given the cultural climate right now in the U.S., I think we shouldn’t air the episode in its entirety,” and cited in particular the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing as examples. “Oeuf” was still teased via a series of clips released to NBC’s website, and the episode is now available on Blu-ray and through streaming services.

9. THERE WAS ONE ELABORATE MURDER THE SHOW WASN’T ALLOWED TO FILM.

Despite working closely with the network’s standards and practices to show as much as possible within the limits of broadcast TV, Hannibal was still a series airing on one of the big four broadcast networks, and not cable. That meant limitations were always inevitable, and at one point Fuller and the writers’ imaginations reached further than NBC was willing to allow.

So, what’s the one big murder scene NBC said no to? According to Fuller, it would have come in the Season 1 episode “Roti,” in which Graham is pursuing escaped killer Dr. Abel Gideon (guest star Eddie Izzard). The scene would have involved Lounds being lured into a room where one of Gideon’s victims was waiting, still alive, with a slit in his stomach. Lounds would have then flipped a switch that triggered a ceiling fan, and it would have been revealed that the fan was actually attached to the man’s intestines through the cut in his stomach. As the fan began to spin, it would disembowel him.

“That was the only one where NBC was like, ‘I just don’t know how you’re going to do it,'” Fuller said. “We would have pushed back if we also hadn’t been told that financially we didn’t know how we could afford to produce such a gag, because you have intestines swinging around a ceiling fan,” he adds.

10. THE SHOW’S BIGGEST CRIME SCENE USED REAL (LIVING) HUMAN BODIES.

Hugh Dancy in 'Hannibal'
NBCUniversal Media

The first case of Hannibal’s second season involved “The Muralist,” a serial killer who abducted and killed various people of different ethnic backgrounds, preserved their bodies with silicone and resin, and then sewed them together in a massive and intricate pattern in the bottom of a silo to form the shape of a human eye (victims with paler skin made up the white, while victims with darker skin were the pupil). It’s an intense and captivating visual even by Hannibal’s standards, and while the production used a computer program called Form Z to design the layout of the bodies beforehand, when it came time to actually film the scene there was no substitute for the real thing. Several dozen background artists were employed and asked to lie in an elaborate pattern on the floor of the set for two days of shooting, usually nearly nude.

“Forty-plus human bodies. They warmed the bottom of the floor for the backgrounds artists so they wouldn’t succumb to the cold,” Fishburne recalled. “And you walk into that room and you’re hit immediately with all the scent of human flesh and the pheromones that are coming off everybody and all you want to do is lay down and go to sleep with them.”

11. IT INCLUDES A WONDERFALLS CROSSOVER.

It’s a bit of a tradition among Bryan Fuller TV series that some connective tissue is established between whatever the current series is and the shows that came before it, establishing what fans call the “Fullerverse.” This carried over into Hannibal, which shares a very brief connection with Fuller’s single season Fox series Wonderfalls. In Hannibal’s second episode, “Amuse-Bouche,” a woman named Gretchen Speck (Chelan Simmons) goes to the pharmacy to pick up her insulin, at which time it’s revealed that she was previously Gretchen Speck-Horowitz, but she has since divorced. Speck is one of the potential victims of that episode’s serial killer, a pharmacist who gives diabetic patients the wrong medication to place them into a coma, then half-buries them and uses their bodies as mushroom farms in the forest. Speck was meant to be his next victim, but she’s saved before he can carry out his plan. Gretchen Speck-Horowitz was one of Wonderfalls’s recurring characters, and because she managed to escape death in Hannibal, she’s still around for another Bryan Fuller series.

12. DAVID BOWIE WAS ALMOST A GUEST STAR.

In addition to a stellar main cast, Hannibal was also always packed with interesting guest stars, from Eddie Izzard to Gillian Anderson to Lance Henriksen. One particular guest star, though, was always just out of reach for the series. For the second season, Fuller offered the role of Hannibal’s uncle Robert Lecter to legendary musician and actor David Bowie, but Bowie was unavailable and the role was left uncast—though not without the hope that Bowie could eventually make time for the series.

“We were told by his people, when we got the pick-up for the third season, to make sure to ask again about his availability,” Fuller said. “So, once we have our dates, we are going to ask again.  I think the man walks on water, so I would love to be in his orbit, in some way.”

Bowie, of course, never made it to Hannibal, and we now know he spent the final 18 months of his life battling liver cancer and working on his final musical projects before he passed away on January 10, 2016.

13. A REVIVAL FOCUSING ON THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS IS STILL POSSIBLE.

Hannibal was canceled in June of 2015, just weeks into third season, after three years of critical acclaim but consistently low ratings. “Fannibals” immediately began requesting that the series continue elsewhere, and Fuller teased discussions with various streaming services to do just that. At one point, it seemed a deal to bring the series to Amazon for a fourth season was close, but the timeline ended up not working out due in part to Fuller’s commitment to the Starz series American Gods. Three years later, we still haven’t seen any more Hannibal.

That doesn’t mean it’ll never happen, though. Fuller has consistently broached the possibility of a fourth season or a even a miniseries to reunite the show’s cast, and both Mikkelsen and Dancy have expressed interest in returning. If the show did come back, Fuller would aim to focus on some form of the Silence of the Lambs storyline, having adapted Red Dragon in season three, while also resolving the very literal cliffhanger at the end of the series’s NBC run.

So, when could it happen? Last year, Fuller said that the rights have finally reverted back to De Laurentiis, who has begun “conversations” about the future of the franchise. We still have no idea what that future holds, but even three years later, Fannibals aren’t letting their favorite cannibal go.

Additional Sources:
“Hannibal Reborn” featurette, 2013
“A Taste for Killing” featurette, 2013
The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series by Jesse McLean, 2015

15 Fascinating Facts About Julia Child

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

Julia Child was much more than just a bestselling cookbook author and chef. Over the course of her life, she was also a breast cancer survivor, a TV trailblazer, and a government spy. It's the famed chef's spy game that will be the focus of Julia, a new series being developed by ABC Signature and created by Benjamin Brand.

The project will draw its inspiration from Child's PBS program Cooking for the C.I.A. “I was disappointed when I learned that in this case, the C.I.A. stood for the Culinary Institute of America,” Brand told Deadline. “Cooking Secrets of the Central Intelligence Agency always seemed like a more interesting show to me. Many years later, when I read a biography of Julia Child and learned about her experiences during World War II, working for the Office of Strategic Services—the precursor to the C.I.A.—the story of Julia quickly fell into place.”

Though Julia (which has yet to confirm a premiere date) will be a work of fiction, here are 15 facts about the beloved cook, who was born on this day in 1912.

1. SHE MET THE INVENTOR OF THE CAESAR SALAD WHEN SHE WAS A KID.

As a preteen, Julia Child traveled to Tijuana on a family vacation. Her parents took her to dine at Caesar Cardini’s restaurant, so that they could all try his trendy “Caesar salad.” Child recalled the formative culinary experience to The New York Times: “My parents were so excited, eating this famous salad that was suddenly very chic. Caesar himself was a great big old fellow who stood right in front of us to make it. I remember the turning of the salad in the bowl was very dramatic. And egg in a salad was unheard of at that point.” Years later, when she was a famous chef in her own right, Child convinced Cardini’s daughter, Rosa, to share the authentic recipe with her.

2. THE WAVES AND WACS REJECTED HER BECAUSE SHE WAS TOO TALL.

Like so many others of her generation, Child felt the call to serve when America entered World War II. There was just one problem: her height. At a towering 6'2", Child was deemed “too tall” for both the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and Women’s Army Corps (WAC). But she was accepted by the forerunner to the CIA, which brings us to our next point.

3. SHE WAS A SPY DURING WORLD WAR II.

Child took a position at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was basically the CIA 1.0. She began as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division, where she worked directly for the head of the OSS, General William J. Donovan. But she moved over to the OSS Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, and then took an overseas post for the final two years of the war. First in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) and later in Kunming, China, Child served as the chief of the OSS Registry. This meant she had top-level security clearance. It also meant she was working with Paul Child, the OSS officer she would eventually marry.

4. SHE HELPED DEVELOP A SHARK REPELLENT FOR THE NAVY.


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While Child was in the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, she helped the team in its search for a suitable shark repellent. Several U.S. naval officers had been attacked by the ocean predators since the war broke out, so the OSS brought in a scientist specializing in zoology and an anthropologist to come up with a fix. Child assisted in this mission, and recalled her experience in the book Sisterhood of Spies: “I must say we had lots of fun. We designed rescue kits and other agent paraphernalia. I understand the shark repellent we developed is being used today for downed space equipment—strapped around it so the sharks won’t attack when it lands in the ocean.”

5. SHE GOT MARRIED IN BANDAGES.

Once the war ended, Julia and Paul Child decided to take a “few months to get to know each other in civilian clothes.” They met with family members and traveled cross-country before they decided to tie the knot. The wedding took place on September 1, 1946. Julia remembered being “extremely happy, but a bit banged up from a car accident the day before.” She wasn’t kidding; she actually had to wear a bandage on the side of her face for her wedding photos. The New York Review of Books has one of those pictures.

6. SHE WAS A TERRIBLE COOK WELL INTO HER 30S.

Child did not have a natural talent for cooking. In fact, she was a self-admitted disaster in the kitchen until she began taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she and Paul lived for several years. Prior to her marriage, Child simply fed herself frozen dinners. It was probably the safest choice; one of her earliest attempts at cooking resulted in an exploded duck and an oven fire.

7. A LUNCH IN ROUEN CHANGED HER LIFE.

Child repeatedly credited one meal with spurring her interest in fine foods: a lunch in the French city of Rouen that she and Paul enjoyed en route to their new home in Paris. The meal consisted of oysters portugaises on the half-shell, sole meunière browned in Normandy butter, a salad with baguettes, and cheese and coffee for dessert. They also “happily downed a whole bottle of Pouilly-Fumé” over the courses.

8. IT TOOK HER NINE YEARS TO WRITE AND PUBLISH HER FIRST COOKBOOK.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking revolutionized home cooking when it was published in 1961—but the revolution didn't happen overnight. Child first began work on her famous tome in 1952, when she met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The French women were writing a cookbook aimed at teaching Americans how to make French cuisine, and brought Child on board as a third author. Nine years of research, rewrites, and rejections ensued before the book landed a publisher at Alfred A. Knopf.

9. SHE GOT FAMOUS BY BEATING EGGS ON BOSTON PUBLIC TELEVISION.

Child’s big TV break came from an unlikely source: Boston’s local WGBH station. While promoting Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child appeared as a guest on the book review program I’ve Been Reading. But rather than sit down and discuss recipe semantics, Child started cracking eggs into a hot plate she brought with her. She made an omelette on air as she answered questions, and viewers loved it. The station received dozens of letters begging for more demonstrations, which led WGBH producer Russell Morash to offer Child a deal. She filmed three pilot episodes, which turned into her star-making show The French Chef.

10. ALL HER ESSENTIAL UTENSILS WERE KEPT IN A “SACRED BAG.”

According to a 1974 New Yorker profile, Child carried a large black canvas satchel known as the “sacred bag.” Rather than holy artifacts, it contained the cooking utensils she couldn’t live without. That included her pastry-cutting wheel, her favorite flour scoop, and her knives, among other things. She started using it when The French Chef premiered, and only entrusted certain people with its care.

11. SHE SURVIVED BREAST CANCER.

Child’s doctors ordered a mastectomy in the late 1960s after a routine biopsy came back with cancerous results. She was in a depressed mood following her 10-day hospital stay, and Paul was a wreck. But she later became vocal about her operation in hopes that it would remove the stigma for other women. She told TIME, “I would certainly not pussyfoot around having a radical [mastectomy] because it’s not worth it.”

12. HER MARRIAGE WAS WELL AHEAD OF ITS TIME.

As their meet-cute in the OSS offices would suggest, Paul and Julia Child had far from a conventional marriage (at least by 1950s standards). Once Julia’s career took off, Paul happily assisted in whatever way he could—as a taste tester, dishwasher, agent, or manager. He had retired from the Foreign Service in 1960, and immediately thrust himself into an active role in Julia’s business. The New Yorker took note of Paul’s progressive attitudes in its 1974 profile of Julia, noting that he suffered “from no apparent insecurities of male ego.” He continued to serve as Julia’s partner in every sense of the word until his death in 1994.

13. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN INDUCTED INTO THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA'S HALL OF FAME.

Child spent her early years working for what would become the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1993, she joined another CIA: the Culinary Institute of America. The group inducted Child into its Hall of Fame that year, making her the first woman to ever receive the honor.

14. SHE EARNED THE HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONORS FROM THE U.S. AND FRANCE.

Along with that CIA distinction, Child received top civilian awards from both her home country and the country she considered her second home. In 2000, she accepted the Legion D’Honneur from Jacques Pépin at Boston’s Le Méridien hotel. Just three years later, George W. Bush gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

15. HER KITCHEN IS IN THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 2001, Julia donated the kitchen that Paul designed in their Cambridge, Massachusetts home to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Although it’s not possible to walk directly through it, there are three viewports from which visitors can see the high counters, wall of copper pots, and gleaming stove. Framed recipes, articles, and other mementos from her career adorn the surrounding walls—and, of course, there’s a television which plays her cooking shows on loop.

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