Francis Ford Coppola’s Favorite Films

When looking for great movie suggestions, an excellent resource (besides this website and our Facebook page!) can be the eclectic taste of our favorite filmmakers. In the spirit of our Daily Movie Recommendations, Must See Cinema presents this series of articles, chronicling the “Top Favorite” lists of many of our beloved directors and cinematographers – artists who have give cinephiles like us lifetimes of enjoyment, people who will live forever through their work and contribution to this art! Today’s list will include some of the favorite films of the great Francis Ford Coppola:

Francis Ford Coppola is widely considered as one of the greatest film directors of all time. As one of the most prominent names of the New Hollywood movement, he directed films that revolutionized filmmaking and directorial tradition, films that, despite many hardships during production, have earned a timeless status as some of the most influential in American cinema history (The Godfather trilogy, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now). His love for the art is clearly visible through his wide array of work. Together with George Lucas, he founded Zoetrope Studios (later renamed, American Zoetrope), producing films that have received a total of 15 Academy Awards and 68 Nominations – by directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Akira Kurosawa, Paul Schrader and Wim Wenders. The studio is also one of the pioneers of Digital Filmmaking.

His own award recognition is no less impressive – he is one of only eight people to have won two Palme D’Or prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. He is also a recipient of Five Academy Awards and numerous nominations and prizes for his contributions to cinema.

Coppola made a “Director’s Top Ten list” for Sight and Sound magazine in 2012 with the following films:

Ashes And Diamonds (1958) dir. Andrzej Wajda
The Best Years Of Our Lives” (1946) dir William Wyler
I Vitelloni (1953) dir. Federico Fellini
The Bad Sleep Well (1960) dir. Akira Kurosawa
Yojimbo (1961) dir. Akira Kurosawa
Singin’ In The Rain (1952) dir. Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
The King Of Comedy (1983) dir Martin Scorsese
Raging Bull (1980) dir. Martin Scorsese
The Apartment (1960) dir. Billy Wilder
Sunrise (1927) dir. F.W. Murnau

Although only two Kurosawa films make this particular cut, Coppola has stated his admiration for the Japanese master many times:

“One thing that distinguishes Akira Kurosawa is that he didn’t just make a masterpiece or two masterpieces. He made eight masterpieces.”

The reciprocated respect that he shares with fellow New Hollywood director and cinema legend, Martin Scorsese, is also evident from this list, as he picks an unorthodox two of Scorsese’s many masterpieces – Raging Bull (1980) and The King of Comedy (1983).

Besides this list of ten films, in a panel in the 2002 Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä, Finland, Coppola chose his “deserted island” choice films as:

Joyless Street (1925) dir. G.W. Pabst


“something by Eisenstein”

This “something” can possibly be Sergei Eisenstein’s October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1928), a film the Coppola has stated profoundly influenced him when young, especially due to the movie’s effective quality of editing.

As for his own body of work, in an interview with the New York Post, he considered his five best films to be The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, Rumble Fish, The Rain People, and Youth Without Youth – leaving out his most praised The Godfather trilogy of films. He explained this by saying he prefers those films of his that took awhile for critics to appreciate.