Sofia Coppola was born in New York, but raised on movie sets around the world. The youngest child of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and documentarian Eleanor Coppola, she was an infant when she began appearing in her father's films, perhaps most memorably as a newborn in The Godfather and then as Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III. Coppola made her own feature directorial debut with 1999's The Virgin Suicides, which she followed with 2003's Lost in Translation.
"My most memorable moment was being at the Oscars for my film Lost in Translation," Coppola reflected in an interview with the Academy. "I was with my dad and the screenwriting category came up, and that was something that he has won before" — with 1971's Patton, 1972's The Godfather, and 1974's The Godfather Part II — "and it was all a blur, but it was very exciting."
Lost in Translation received a total of four nominations at the 76th Academy Awards, and Coppola became the very first woman to be nominated for writing, producing, and directing in the same year. She went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. "I guess people maybe take you more seriously after," she laughs. In the years since, Coppola has helmed such films as Marie Antoinette (2006), Somewhere (2010), The Beguiled (2017), and most recently, Priscilla, based on Priscilla Presley's memoir Elvis and Me.
"Writing an original screenplay is much harder for me than an adaptation. An adaptation is challenging, but it's more of a puzzle to figure out. And it's fun to see how you adapt something into a film and keep it true to what you loved about the story and then reinterpret it," Coppola explains of her process. "But with an original script, there's always that moment where you have no idea where you're going, and that's more scary."
With the films that she has written and directed, Coppola has forged her own trademark style: Coppola is an auteur of coming-of-age stories for women, with dreamy aesthetics and beautiful imagery, an impeccable attention to detail, and always-iconic soundtracks. For A.frame, the filmmaker shares five films that she finds visually striking.
This article was originally published on Dec. 18, 2020 and has been updated throughout.
Written and Directed by: Wong Kar-wai
You can't take your eyes off every beautiful frame of this poetic, romantic film.
Directed by: Luchino Visconti | Written by: Luchino Visconti, Suso Cecchi D'Amico, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Enrico Medioli, and Massimo Franciosa
Epic grandeur. I love the ball scene — seeing it on a big screen is so unforgettable!
Directed by: Alan J. Pakula | Written by: William Goldman
It is a classic of this genre. It has the best sets, lighting that has been emulated over and over, and compelling visual storytelling.
Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni | Written by: Michelangelo Antonioni, Ennio Flaiano, Tonino Guerra
A great looking film, plus it's Italy in the 1960s. I love the party scene, and the Jeanne Moreau scene in the car in the rain.
Written and Directed by: Brett Morgen
Beautiful and inspiring '70s photography of Jane Goodall discovering Africa.