Sofia Coppola may come from film royalty, but she’s an artist all her own.
The daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola began her career as an infant — appearing as the newborn baby of Connie (Talia Shire) in the baptism scene of “The Godfather.” From there, she had a supporting role in his films “Peggy Sue Got Married” and the third “Godfather” film, filling in for the latter after original star Winona Ryder dropped out. Moving over to directing as an adult, she stunned critics with her 1999 debut feature “The Virgin Suicides,” an adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ book about five mysterious sisters and their troubled home lives.
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“The Virgin Suicides” was one of the most acclaimed indie films of the ‘90s, and established the visual style (a soft color palette and dreamy cinematography) as well as the thematic content (women unmoored in stifling lives, loneliness, wealth) that would define Coppola’s career, while teaming her up with one of her greatest collaborators in Kirsten Dunst. In 2003, she followed up “Virgin Suicides” with the even better received “Lost in Translation,” which marked the beginning of her other great partnership: Bill Murray. The sad romantic dramedy about two lost souls vacationing in Tokyo won her a Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2004, firmly cementing Coppola as a director that was here to stay.
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 critics 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 just premiered in American movie theaters 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 hazy, feminine 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 movie 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.
[Editor’s note: This list was originally published May 2023, and has since been updated.]
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