There are a lot of people who find Jennifer Lawrence one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood despite the fact that she’s an Academy Award winner and has been nominated three other times.
But did you know that her Oscar winning performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” was so accurate that a Harvard professor diagnosed the character with Borderline Personality Disorder just based on her depiction alone?
Psychiatrists studied 400 movies to find the most realistic performance of a sociopath and you’ll be surprised by the most accurate portrayal.
Psychopaths are traditionally defined as antisocial, impaired of empathy and remorse, disinhibited of emotion, and flat-out egomaniacal. They’re basically a more severe version of a sociopath and are quite commonly depicted as serial killers in film and television.
In the pantheon of film, there have been many psychopaths and are most commonly associated with horror movies given their very nature. For instance, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger are heartless serial killers.
But then you have other thriller-natured films where psychopaths are frequently the star like “Silence of the Lambs,” “American Psycho” and “Funny Games.” The star characters are simultaneously intriguing and disturbing.
However, you might be shocked to learn that when psychiatrists studied 400 movies, finding 126 separate fictional psychopathic characters (21 female and 105 male), they found that Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) from “No Country for Old Men” was the most realistic psychopath portrayal in their scientific studies.
The researchers wrote, “He seems to be effectively invulnerable and resistant to any form of emotion or humanity.”
Joel and Ethan Coen directed the Cormac McCarthy 2005 novel of the same name about a hunter, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), who stumbles across the aftermath of a drug deal gone very wrong and finds a suitcase full of money. That’s when the higher-ups task Anton Chigurh with tracking down the money and murdering Moss.
The film won four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Javier Bardem took home the statue for Best Supporting Actor.
It’s odd though. Wouldn’t you think Anthony Hopkins performance as Dr. Hannibal Lecter would top the list of all-time psychopaths?
The main deciding factor might be the idea that Dr. Lecter takes a liking to Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and therefore doesn’t match the criteria of an un-empathetic psychopath. A typical psychopath wouldn’t take a liking to anybody. But that’s what makes the movie sing. He does truly respect Starling right from the start.
What about Jason Bateman (Christian Bale) in “American Psycho?” Is it because the end of the movie turned out to be fantasy? It’s actually more likely that when Det. Donald Kimball visits Bateman in his office inquiring about the disappearance of Paul Allen that he’s sweating. He’s nervous. And by the end, he comes clean. Not the typical emotions of a psychopath.
The study added some honorable mentions, which turned out to be Hans Beckert in the 1931 classic “M” and Henry Lee Lucas in “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” The latter might just be one of the most disturbing films ever made because it is almost too realistic and absolutely relentless.
It also noted that most early films didn’t have realistic psychopath portrayals.
Capping it off, the study noted that female psychopaths, like in real life, are just as rare in film. The best examples they found with females psychopaths were Catherine Tramell in “Basic Instinct” and Hedra Carlson in “Single White Female.”
But names like Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street” and Norman Bates in “Psycho” didn’t make the cut, which is surprising to say the least.