To Celebrate Megalopolis Screening at SFF 2024, Here Are the Best Francis Ford Coppola Films

Megalopolis and the Best Francis Ford Coppola films

Megalopolis — a film decades in the making — premiered at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival last month. Depending on your source, the film was met with a four-to-seven minute standing ovation, and soon, Australians will be able to see Francis Ford Coppola’s sci-fi passion project for themselves when it makes its Australian premiere at the 2024 Sydney Film Festival.

The official logline for Megalopolis is as follows: “Megalopolis is a Roman Epic fable set in an imagined Modern America. The city of New Rome must change, causing conflict between Cesar Catilina (Adam Driver), a genius artist who seeks to leap into a utopian, idealistic future, and his opposition, Mayor Franklyn Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito), who remains committed to a regressive status quo, perpetuating greed, special interests, and partisan warfare.

Torn between them is socialite Julia Cicero (Nathalie Emmanuel), the mayor’s daughter, whose love for Cesar has divided her loyalties, forcing her to discover what she truly believes humanity deserves.” The film also stars Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, James Remar, Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Fishburne, Jon Voight, and Jason Schwartzman.

The film is sure to be one of the more notable premieres of SFF 2024, due in great part to the buzz around the film. The Godfather director began writing the script for Megalopolis back in 1983, and self-funded the sci-fi epic, which reportedly cost USD$120 million to make. At a Cannes Film Festival press conference, Coppola spoke of the film’s price tag, and his decision to spend his fortune on making the film, thus putting a dent in his family’s future inheritance.

“My children, without exception, have wonderful careers without a fortune,” Coppola said. “We are fine. It doesn’t matter. All of you here: The money doesn’t matter. What is important are the friends. A friend will never let you down. The money may evaporate.”

Watch the Trailer for Megalopolis

Is Megalopolis Good? What the Critics Are Saying

Despite receiving a standing ovation from the notoriously finicky Cannes crowd, the reviews for Megalopolis have been mixed, at best. The film currently has a 51% rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics trying to make sense of Coppola’s magnum opus.

BBC critic Nicholas Barber didn’t mince words, writing: “It’s like listening to someone tell you about the crazy dream they had last night – and they don’t stop talking for well over two hours.” Financial Times critic Raphael Abraham echoed the sentiment, writing: “Perhaps the kindest thing one can say about Megalopolis is that it will probably remain largely unwatched and be quickly forgotten”, while Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair declared it “the junkiest of junk-drawer movies, a slapped together hash of Coppola’s many disparate inspirations”.

Not all the reviews slammed the film, though.

“Can a movie be simultaneous brilliant and a huge mess at the same time?” Alex Billington pondered on firstshowing.net. “Coppola certainly tries!”

“Ultimately, this isn’t the car crash it could have been,” Geoffrey Macnab wrote for the Independent. “It is, though, deeply flawed and very eccentric.”

Slate critic Sam Adams wrote that “Megalopolis is the product of man who has tried to put everything he knows or thinks into one climactic work. And whether or not it all fits, it’s exhilarating to watch him try.”

“This picture may find him near the end of a long, embattled career, but the mere fact that it exists, in its breathtaking and sometimes exasperating singularity, feels like an expression of hope,” said New Yorker critic Justin Chang.

It seems the debate around Megalopolis will continue for some time. What’s not up for debate, however, is that Coppola remains one of the most acclaimed and influential directors in the industry. As Aussies prepare to form their own opinions of Megalopolis, there’s no better time to revisit some of Francis Ford Coppola’s best films.

Related: Take a Peek! These 10 Films Received the Longest Standing Ovations at Cannes

The 10 Best Films by Francis Ford Coppola

Apocalypse Now

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola, with narration by Michael Herr. Based on the novel by Joseph Conrad (uncredited)
Starring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
Synopsis: A U.S. Army officer serving in Vietnam is tasked with assassinating a renegade Special Forces Colonel who sees himself as a god.
Where to watch: Streaming on Stan

When people talk about the 1970s being one of the best decades for cinema, they’ll often reference Coppola’s films, and for good reason. Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece anchored by great performances, in spite of the film’s infamously difficult film shoot.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: James V. Hart, based on the novel by Bram Stoker
Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins
Synopsis: The centuries old vampire Count Dracula comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker’s fiancée Mina Murray and inflict havoc in the foreign land.
Where to watch: Streaming on BINGE

With lush visuals that create an atmospheric mood, Coppola carves out a visionary Dracula film like no other. It’s over-the-top, yes. It’s a spectacle, yes. Sometimes, it’s even silly. Still, this is the kind of film to suck you in and captivate you from start to finish, and with plenty of fun along the way.

The Conversation

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield
Synopsis: A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that the couple he is spying on will be murdered.
Where to watch: Streaming on Prime Video

Gene Hackman is firing on all cylinders in this very tense, intricately executed thriller. The film explores the ever-timely themes of privacy and surveillance in modern society with great depth, making this one of Coppola’s most underrated masterpieces.

The Godfather

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Mario Puzo
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
Synopsis: The aging patriarch of an organised crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
Where to watch: Streaming on Prime Video

Nominated for 11 Oscars, and winner of three (including Best Picture), The Godfather is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made, and for good reason. With its masterful storytelling, exceptional performances, and enduring impact on cinema and television, The Godfather has become one of the most influential films of all time, particularly in the crime sub-genre.

The Godfather Part II

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Mario Puzo
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall
Synopsis: The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York City is portrayed, while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate.
Where to watch: Streaming on Prime Video

Coppola did the unfathomable with The Godfather Part II — he created a sequel that equals (or surpasses, depending who you ask) its predecessor in quality, critical acclaim and audience reaction. Like the first film, The Godfather Part II was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, although Part II walked away with six wins, including Best Picture and Best Director for Coppola.

Peggy Sue Got Married

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner
Starring: Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Barry Miller
Synopsis: Peggy Sue faints at a high school reunion. When she wakes up, she finds herself in her own past, just before she finished school.
Where to watch: Streaming on SBS on Demand

Despite being met with mixed opinions upon release, Peggy Sue Got Married has found its audience over the years. With plenty of nostalgic charm and its earnest exploration of regret and second chances, as well as a great performance from Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married has earned its status as a cult classic.

The Rainmaker

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola, with narration by Michael Herr. Based on the novel by John Grisham
Starring: Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Claire Danes
Synopsis: An underdog lawyer takes on a fraudulent insurance company.
Where to watch: Streaming on Stan

An engaging court room drama with great performances from its cast, The Rainmaker is a skilful and faithful adaptation of John Grisham’s novel. The film explores themes of justice, ethics, and the power dynamics within the legal system in a way that resonates emotionally with the viewer.

The Rain People

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: James Caan, Shirley Knight, Robert Duvall
Synopsis: When a housewife finds out she is pregnant, she runs out of town looking for freedom to reevaluate her life decisions.
Where to watch: Rent on Prime Video

An exploration of freedom and identity, The Rain People was initially met with a mixed response. Over the years, however, the film has been reevaluated, and is now considered one of the underrated gems of Coppola’s filmography. The film is the intimate portrayal of a woman’s journey of self-discovery, and in its reappraisal, fans have come to admire the  introspective storytelling nuanced character development that it offers.

Rumble Fish

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Screenplay by S.E. Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by S.E Hinton
Starring: Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane
Synopsis: Absent-minded street thug Rusty James struggles to live up to his legendary older brother’s reputation, and longs for the days of gang warfare.
Where to watch: Rent on Prime Video

Another cult pick from Coppola’s filmography, Rumble Fish is a stylised adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s novel. With bold artistic choices and experimental visual style throughout, Coppola anchors the film with a poignant exploration of teenage angst, which gives Rumble Fish its emotional resonance.

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Arnold Schulman and David Seidler
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landau
Synopsis: The story of Preston Tucker, the maverick car designer and his ill-fated challenge to the auto industry with his revolutionary car concept.
Where to watch: Rent on Prime Video

Tucker: The Man and His Dream was applauded by critics for its uplifting narrative, stylish period design, and celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as its exploration of the American Dream. Although it initially struggled at the box office, the film has since gained recognition as a poignant and inspiring underdog story.

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