20 Most Essential Jonathan Demme Movies

From serial-killer thrillers to 'Stop Making Sense,' mob comedies to a feature-length monologue – the Demme films you need to see ASAP

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'Beloved' (1998)

Critics weren't that kind to Demme's adaptation of Toni Morrison's ghost story (first Spielberg does Alice Walker's The Color Purple, and now this?). But if ever one of the director's films demanded a repeat viewing and a re-evaluation, it's this one. Oprah Winfrey's performance here as an ex-slave dealing with an unexpected visitor – who may or may not be a specter from her past – runs rings around her work in the aforementioned lit flick, and is easily the best screen work she's done to date. Thandie Newton's otherwordly Beloved is sometimes monstrous, sometimes childlike and completely haunting. And you can feel how Demme is constantly emphasizing the human pulse beneath the genre's things-that-go-bump-in-the-night trappings. Attention must be paid. DF

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