You could only see his eyes behind the layers of makeup in The Elephant Man but those expressive orbs earned John Hurt a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his moving portrayal of John Merrick, the grotesquely deformed Victorian man. Inarticulate and abused, Merrick is the virtual slave of a carnival barker (Freddie Jones) until dedicated London doctor Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins in a powerfully understated performance) rescues him and offers him an existence with dignity. Anne Bancroft co-stars as the actress whose visit to Merrick makes him a social curiosity, with John Gielgud and Wendy Hiller as dubious hospital staffers won over by Merrick. David Lynch earned his only Oscar nominations as director and co-writer of this sombre drama, which he shot in a rich black-and-white palette, a sometimes stark, sometimes dreamy visual style that at times recalls the offbeat expressionism of his first film, Eraserhead. It remains a perfect marriage between traditional Hollywood historical drama and Lynch's unique cinematic eye, a compassionate human tale delivered in a gothic vein. The film earned eight Oscar nominations in all and though it left the Oscar ceremony empty-handed, its dramatic power and handsome yet haunting imagery remain just as strong today.