It’s not even the end of February and there’s already a strong contender for best TV show of the year: True Detective: Night Country. The HBO show, shifts to Alaska this season, is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed series so far in 2024, with more viewers turning in each week to find out how and why a group of scientists ventured semi-naked out into the freezing cold to be slaughtered by a mysterious force.
Part of the reason for the show’s renewed popularity is the presence and performance of Jodie Foster, one of the most respected movie actresses of the last five decades, who is starring in her first TV series since 1974’s Paper Moon. While Foster isn’t a TV veteran, she’s established herself in the thriller genre with such films as The Accused and The Silence of The Lambs, both of which netted her Academy Awards for Best Actress. For fans of Foster and Night Country, here are three of the actress’ best thrillers that don’t involve Hannibal Lecter.
Panic Room (2002)
It’s a testament to David Fincher’s career that Panic Room, an above-average thriller that would be a highlight on any other director’s résumé, ranks low on The Killer helmer’s filmography. It’s still well worth watching, if only to see Foster in her 2000s prime as Meg Altman, a recently divorced woman who, along with her diabetic teenage daughter, Sarah, gets trapped in the titular enclosed space by a mysterious group of home invaders headed by a pre-Joker Jared Leto.
Panic Room lasts 112 minutes, and almost every minute is filled with a sense of dread and suspense. Fincher flexes his usual stylistic muscles with the aid of great camera work by Conrad Hall and Darius Khondji and a memorable score from Howard Shore, but its Foster, especially in her scenes with Stewart, who really makes the movie worth a watch. Often playing scenes with only herself, Foster is never less than mesmerizing to watch, something that has continued throughout the years and is currently on display in Night Country.
Panic Room can be rented or purchased at digital vendors like Amazon Prime Video.
The Brave One (2007)
When The Brave One was released in 2007, it was promoted as a loose remake of the Charles Bronson 1970s revenge classic Death Wish, with Foster assuming the role of an urban vigilante. In the movie, Foster stars as Erica Bain, a radio host who witnesses her fiancé get brutally beaten to death in New York City. Fueled with rage, Erica arms herself with an illegal gun and wages a one-woman war against crime.
The Brave One isn’t for everyone, and its gun-happy politics haven’t aged too well, but it doesn’t exactly condone Erica’s criminal activities either. Foster was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, and it’s easy to see why — you buy Erica’s grief and need for violence to ease her pain. It’s not a pleasant movie, but The Brave One is never boring, and that’s largely due to its lead actress.
The Brave One can be rented or purchased at digital vendors like Amazon Prime Video.
Inside Man (2006)
A bank robbery, some stolen diamonds, and a secret dating back to World War II — these are the elements that fuel Spike Lee’s twisty thriller Inside Man, and that form the basis for one of the best suspense movies of the last 20 years. Denzel Washington stars as Detective Keith Frazier, who is assigned to negotiate with a group of bank robbers headed by Dalton Russell (A Murder at the End of the World‘s Clive Owen), who opens the film by proclaiming he’s committed the perfect heist.
This isn’t an ordinary bank robbery, though, as Jodie Foster’s Madeleine White arrives on the scene, having been hired by the bank’s ultra-rich owner, Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer), to protect contents in a safe deposit box hidden deep inside the bank. Is Dalton after those contents? And if so, what secrets do they contain? Foster takes a rare supporting role in Inside Man, but her few scenes stand out as some of the film’s best. It’s the kind of performance that’s measured in impact, not minutes, and Foster makes a considerable impression every minute she’s on screen.
Inside Man is streaming on Peacock.