by Aya

She didn’t have the easiest start in film, but as a screenwriter, director and producer, she has come to prove her excellent capabilities behind the camera.  

Even if you don’t know much about filmmakers, you’ve surely heard of the Coppolas. There’s Francis Ford Coppola, the now-retired film director long considered as a major figure in the New Hollywood Wave (he directed The Godfather series, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now, among others). And then there’s his daughter, Sofia, who’s made such a name for herself in the industry that she is the first American woman to have bagged the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.

The youngest child of her famous father, Sofia started her career with bit roles in several of his films. Her acting work was frequently tied to nepotism, and she was even named the “Worst Supporting Actress” and the “Worst New Star” at the 1990 Golden Raspberry Awards. Over time, the New Yorker decided that she would be better off behind the lens, and in 1998 released her first short film, Lick the Star. A year later, she made her feature film directing debut with The Virgin Suicides. It received critical acclaim, promptly silencing detractors who said she would fail. 

In 2003, she made her second feature, Lost in Translation, a romantic comedy-drama film about the close friendship of an aging actor and a college graduate who meet in Tokyo. It too received spectacular reviews, and Sofia won an Academy Award for her original screenplay, on top of three Golden Globe wins. Because it grossed around 25 times its budget, the film was considered a commercial success, and because it revolved around relatable themes such as displacement, solitude, and connection, it very quickly amassed a large fan base. Lost in Translation is commonly regarded as one of the best films of the 2000s. 

Sofia made a few other films before directing The Bling Ring in 2013, which is based on a real-life group of teenagers who burgled the homes of celebrities and made off with $3 million in cash and other items. It received generally positive reviews from critics and opened the Un Certain Regard segment, which is for films that tell stories in non-traditional ways, of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Not that you really need another reason to catch it if you haven’t already, but if you’re quite taken by Emma Watson, the British actress stars in the show. 

Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and rising starlet, Elle Fanning in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled

Last year, Sofia made her opera directing debut in Italy with La Traviata. However, she has not forgotten the medium in which she got her big break: she’s in the midst of returning to the silver screen with a remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 thriller, The Beguiled. A 19th-century tale of seduction and betrayal, the film tells the story of a wounded soldier imprisoned in a secluded school for girls, and while he is initially welcomed, things soon take a dark turn. It’s set to be released in US theatres this June, so it won’t be long before we get to catch it. Something to really look forward to, if you ask me.

One thing for sure about Sofia Coppola, her body of work has truly grown to speak for itself. She instils her trade marks in many of them, with her films frequently featuring the sun peering through leaves, characters walking down long hallways and pole-dancing scenes, all of which audiences have lapped up. Here’s one last thing about her: she and ex-husband Spike Jonze both received Oscar nominations for Best Director and they were the first married couple to do so. This mother of two clearly still has a lot to show the world, so just hang on tight because you never know when her films might leave you reeling in some sort of sad happiness again.

Sofia Coppola's Career in Four Minutes