10 best Francis Ford Coppola movies, ranked



We cannot talk about the history of American cinema without mentioning Francis Ford Coppola. Arriving in Hollywood as the industry was losing money, he was fortunate enough to reach his artistic rhythm when the studios decided to try their luck with young children.

Coppola is one of the greatest of his generation, along with Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg, William Friedkin and George Lucas. A crop of filmmakers who drastically refined the types of movies that got made for big money and the types of movies that made the money. Coppola’s run in the 1970s is unmatched with Godfather, The Godfather II, Apocalypse now, and The conversation. Throughout his career, Coppola has firmly anchored his name in the history of American cinema.

Let’s take a look at the top ten films of his illustrious career.



Easily the best of Coppola’s 21st century movies and funded with his own money – Tetro finds a particular balance between artistic experimentation (his film closest to Fellini) and heartfelt narrative.

Partly inspired by his own life, Coppola chose Vincent Gallo as the titular “Tetro,” the self-destructive and highly combustible writer who fled to Buenos Aires to escape his abusive family. But, real inspiration and tensions strike because his estranged brother Benny – played by Alden Ennerhich whom Coppola is partly responsible for finding – comes to find him, opening up the past in a sloppy and ugly way.

While not quite reaching the heights of his early masterpieces, the intimacy of the setting and gorgeous old-fashioned B&W cinematography was a welcome foray for Coppola back in the good graces of cinema. .

9Cotton Club Encore

Cotton Club Encore

When Cotton club filmed, the final cut had been taken from Coppola, toning down his original vision of giving voice to black performers performed in Prohibition-era clubs, shifting attention to the gangsters behind the scenes. Radically intersecting, Coppola delivers his original take on the politicization of noir art and also paints an insightful portrait of Hollywood’s inauthenticity.

Starring Gregory Hines as a dancer who can’t hang out in the club and Richard Gere as a musician who wants to be an actor, both navigate the criminal underworld. Coppola shows off his skillful hand to create another surprisingly modern crime epic. The film also features a deep supporting cast of Laurence Fishburne, James Remar, Tom Waits, Nicolas Cage and Bob Hoskins, all operating behind the scenes at smoky clubs.

8The foreigners

The foreigners

When Coppola started doing The foreigners, he had a mission: to discover the next generation of young American talent. And he passed with flying colors. The Outsiders introduced the world to Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, C. Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio before they became stars.

Following the youth gang culture of SE Hinton’s acclaimed young adult novel of the same name, Coppola leads the young together as they navigate lower-class poverty and rich kid violence, all in a brilliant contrivance. from the 1950s. All this without ever losing the heart of the source material.



Coppola’s first foray into horror with Dracula transformed into an opera in a gothic costume covered in blood, flesh and fireworks. It features Gary Oldman as the titular monster who falls in love with the beautiful Mina Murray (Winona Ryder).

Horror plunges into a beautiful and elegant stroll through a horror camp. Where monsters, beasts and men can only show their true affection through violence. While the set features some big names, Hopkins steals the show as famed monster hunter Van Helsing.

6Tucker: The man and his dream

Tucker: The man and his dream

Tucker: The man and his dream is a magnificent ode to the ambitions of American auto-manufacturing legend Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) as he battles the evil machinations of America’s most powerful corporations and their ties to politics. Coppola keeps the material and narrative light as he spends his time developing military vehicles to his revolutionary car concept, the “Tucker Torpedo” which pits him against the three titans of the automotive industry.

With his right-hand man Abe Karatz (Oscar nominated Martin Landau) leading him through the fray, we sadly see how miserable his dreams are and how doomed this challenge is. Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography (Apocalypse Now) is also stunning and is reminiscent of his work on The Conformist.

5The conversation

The conversation

While taking a break from wrapping the Godfather Part II, director Francis Ford Coppola has decided to make yet another masterpiece behind the scenes. Starring a paranoid and low-key performance by the great Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who believes he is caught in the middle of a government plot.

The conversation A thriller twist in a depressing character study that seemingly manifests itself amid the Watergate scandal, as Caul is terrified of what will happen to a young couple he follows. A reflection of the era reminiscent of other tense conspiratorial thrillers of the 70s, but also one that has aged with unhappy beauty due to mass mistrust of governments. Coppola executed a low-key film with depth.

4Growling fish

Growling fish

The nearest Coppolas has come to touch the wavelengths of the French New Wave, Growling fish is built like an intense, feverish black against the SE Hinton playground of violent youth culture. Featuring star performances from the young ensemble of Matt Dillon, Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke, Rumble sings because Coppola apparently threw the playbook out the window and exists as the perfect answer to The foreigners, floating away from the spectrum, stylistically.

3Godfather Part II

Godfather Part II

Yes The Godfather gave us hope that Michael Corleone will take his family business to the next phase, The Godfather: Part II sees that idealism has turned into tragedy. Featuring the heartbreaking arc of Fredo (John Cazale) as other family members turn on Michael’s desire for power and his crushing blows for family loyalty.

Godfather Part II remains the sequel par excellence as it showcases the development of thematic material and how quickly things can turn bad. The second part also awarded Robert De Niro an Oscar (as Brando) for his portrayal of young Don Vito Corleone as he takes his family from the streets to the throne. Godfather Part II remains one of the biggest sequels ever made and is another indelible piece of Mafia fiction.

2Apocalypse now

Apocalypse now

One of, if not the greatest war films ever made Apocalypse now saw François on the verge of collapse. Almost bankrupt to run the film while plunging with the film crew into the heart of the jungle, what came out of it became a centerpiece of American cinema and history.

Young Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent on a top secret mission to assassinate the violent and murderous Walter E. Kurtz (another iconic performance by Marlon Brando) who has traveled to the remotest corners of Vietnamese villages. Apocalypse is a war film like no other, a hallucinatory nightmare in the heart of darkness.

1The Godfather

The Godfather

Any other criminal epic will live in the shadow of the Godfather. It is perhaps the most influential film and the most astute pop cinema piece ever seen on the big screen.

A mafia film about the corruption of powers in the American model of becoming your boss, AKA, capitalism. A King (Marlon Brando) with his three sons Michael (Al Pacino), Sonita (James Caan) and Fredo (John Cazale) all vie for their father’s throne as the future of the company draws closer.

Everything in the film has become iconic, from the character arcs, music, dialogue, and divine cinematography of Gordon Willis to the dimly lit rooms in which the powerful do business. The Godfather will forever stand the test of time due to the levels of artistic genius performed at all levels.


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