Jonathan Demme was one of our most empathetic directors. These 5 films explain why. – Todd VanDerWerff Apr 26, 2017, 7:10pm EDT


From The Silence of the Lambs to Rachel Getting Married, these movies cemented the director’s cinematic legacy.

Jonathan Demme, the Academy Award–winning director who died Wednesday, April 26, at the age of 73, is probably best known for The Silence of the Lambs, which won him his Oscar.

And yet the director wasn’t known for making horror films or even thrillers. For the most part, he made his name directing gentle comedies and music documentaries (along with the women’s prison film Caged Heat — his debut film!), and then spent the latter half of his career (most everything after Silence) creating movies exploring some of the ways America had let down many who professed to believe in its ideals.

He was, in a word, humane: a deeply humanist director who was always interested in the different ways people react to crisis or conflict, with a warm, loving eye for all of the characters his lens fell across. Every entry in his filmography has some worth, but if you just want to watch a handful, we’ve narrowed it down to the five movies that best capture his multifaceted talent.

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