She may have had it easy getting her foot in the door, but it’s hard to deny Sofia Coppola began her directing career in an unenviable position.
When she made her first film “The Virgin Suicides” in 1999, Coppola was known for two things: being the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, one of the most esteemed directors in American film, and her notoriously wooden performance at age 18 in “The Godfather Part III.” Coppola was a last-minute replacement for the film after original star Winona Ryder dropped out, and later said she had little interest in acting, but getting branded the kid who ruined the final “Godfather” movie (or at least didn’t make it any better) isn’t a great reputation to have when you’re starting out.
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So it’s all the more impressive how thoroughly Coppola has transcended that youthful blip and managed to overcome the shadow of her father’s legendary works — “The Godfather,” “The Conversation,” “Apocalypse Now,” among others — to build her own impressive legacy as a director. “The Virgin Suicides” became one of the most acclaimed indie films of the ‘90s, and Coppola followed it up with the even better received “Lost in Translation,” winning an Oscar for her screenplay in 2004.
From that one-two punch, Coppola emerged as one of the 21st century’s most interesting and thought-provoking filmmakers. Many of her subsequent films — “Marie Antoinette,” “Somewhere,” “The Bling Ring” — drew strong reactions, polarizing critics and attracting haters and admirers alike. But love them or hate them, they’re movies that stick with you, throwing you into the ennui and isolation of their characters in a way that’s hard to shake.
And because Coppola takes fairly long breaks between projects (it’s been three years since her last, “On the Rocks,” hit Apple TV+ in 2020) a new film from her is always a bit of an event. And her latest may be one of her best. An A24 release, “Priscilla” tells the story of Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s marriage from the latter’s point of view, with Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi starring. The unconventional biopic premiered at the Venice Film Festival to critical acclaim and is heading to theaters in the States this November.
Although traces of her father and other inspirations can be found in Coppola’s directing, she has a style that feels uniquely her own. Her films tend to be slow and patient, using dreamy, soft visuals to convey her character’s melancholic moods. Other directors go for the same vibe, but none do it quite like Coppola, which makes it all the more interesting to look at the films that inspired her in her path to filmmaking.
Here’s a roundup of the films Coppola has shouted out as her favorites over the years, listed in no particular order.
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