Five Must-Watch Movies For Anyone New To Sofia Coppola

Five Must-Watch Movies For Anyone New To Sofia Coppola

It’s no wonder Sofia Coppola excels in filmmaking. She is a scion of moviemaking royalty, being the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola. She has since carved out an image away from the Coppola brand (despite keeping the name), directing movies with her own style and personality. If you are new to the work of Sofia Coppola, here are five movie recommendations you should add to your list.

The Virgin Suicides

Released in 1999, The Virgin Suicides is Coppola’s directorial debut. It also marked her first collaboration with actress Kirsten Dunst. The movie depicts the story of five teenagers in Detroit in the ’70s, heavily based on the novel of the same name by Jeffrey Eugenides. Aside from Dunst, the movie starred James Woods, Kathleen Turner, AJ Cook, and Josh Harnett. The movie was co-produced by her dad Francis Ford Coppola. Writing about the legacy of The Virgin Suicides on its 20th anniversary in 2020, The Guardian noted: “The dreamy aesthetic and Air’s transcendent, perfectly matched score led some to dismiss the film as a mere mood piece, of style over substance, but it’s too grounded, too rich in detail to fall into that overused categorisation.”

Lost In Translation

2003’s Lost in Translation is perhaps Sofia Coppola’s most prominent work. Coppola directed, produced, and wrote the screenplay of the movie, which stars A-listers Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, and Japanese actor Fumihiro Hayashi. The movie was inspired by a trip Coppola made to Tokyo, a city that she enjoyed. Lost in Translation raked in nominations during its release, an impressive feat considering this is only Coppola’s second feature film. The movie was well-received by critics, with Roger Ebert particularly singing praises for Murray’s performance. “Bill Murray’s acting in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” is surely one of the most exquisitely controlled performances in recent movies. Without it, the film could be unwatchable. With it, I can’t take my eyes away.  Not for a second, not for a frame, does his focus relax, and yet it seems effortless. It’s sometimes said of an actor that we can’t see him acting. I can’t even see him not acting. He seems to be existing, merely existing, in the situation created for him by Sofia Coppola.” Coppola won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation, defeating veteran screenwriters, including Denys Arcand for The Barbarian Invasion, Steven Knight for Dirty Pretty Things, Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, and David Reynolds for Finding Nemo, and Jim Sheridan for In America. The movie was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director for Coppola, and Best Actor for Murray.

Marie Antoinette

Reuniting with Kirsten Dunst, who had previously worked with Coppola in The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola directed Marie Antoinette, with Dunst as its lead star. The movie also featured Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, Judy Davis, and Rose Byrne. The movie depicts the story of France’s last queen Marie Antoinette, with Dunst portraying the titular character. Marie Antoinette was positively received both in the U.S. and in France. Commenting on Dunst’s performance in the movie, Coppola said (according to Another Mag): “I like that at first Kirsten looks like this unassuming bubbly blonde,” says Sofia Coppola. “But she’s more complicated, and there’s something else going on that you’re not sure about. I first saw that in Vampire and again during The Virgin Suicides. What makes her unique for me, is that she can pass as an LA cheerleader, but she also has a deep, darker side you wouldn’t expect from her looks or outgoing personality.” The Guardian‘s review of the movie took note of Coppola’s directorial process: “Yet however mannered this film is, the director carries off with some poise her decision to end on nothing more than a note of foreboding and exile, and there is a persuasive aesthetic closure to Marie’s final carriage-ride away from her tainted Eden. “We are too young to reign!” Louis had declaimed plaintively on the news of his father’s death; Coppola’s anthem for doomed youth has its own affecting cadence.”

The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring, which premiered in 2013, is Coppola’s sixth feature film. The movie surprises us with an Americanized Emma Watson, who takes on a role so detached from Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. The movie depicts the story of a real-life teenage gang who finds celebrities’ homes and burgle them. The Bling Ring stars Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, and Leslie Mann. While The Bling Ring only received mixed reviews, it still captured Sofia Coppola’s moviemaking magic. The New York Times‘ review of the movie wrote: “The Bling Ring” occupies a vertiginous middle ground between banality and transcendence, and its refusal to commit to one or the other is both a mark of integrity and a source of frustration. The audience is neither inside the experience of the characters nor at a safe distance from them. We don’t know how (or if) they think, and we don’t know quite what to think of them. Are they empty, depraved or opaque? Which would be worse?”

On The Rocks

Last on the list of must-watch Sofia Coppola movies is On The Rocks, her latest feature film. The movie serves as a reunion for her and Bill Murray, whom she had worked previously in Lost in Translation. In On The Rocks, Murray plays father to Rashida Jones’ character, both of whom suspect that the latter’s husband, played by comedian Marlon Wayans, is cheating on her. In a Vogue interview talking about the movie, Coppola spoke about working with Murray again. Both Murray and Coppola got Oscar-nominated for their work in Lost in Translation. “Bill is just such a unique creature full of magic whenever he’s around. He’s so smart and puts so much sensitivity into what he does. There’s just always something surprising that you don’t expect in every take, and it’s that combination of heart and humor that I love about him. And the character of Felix is complicated, so I wanted him to be a character Laura doesn’t agree with while still being able to have some understanding of where he’s coming from. I needed someone like Bill who’s so lovable but can bring both of those sides. “

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