10. Francis Ford Coppola
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA
THE GODFATHER, APOCALYPSE NOW, THE CONVERSATION
One doesn’t like to make bold statements, but then again, this is a list claiming to represent the 100 greatest directors of all time, so what the hell – Francis Ford Coppola is the most daring American filmmaker since Orson Welles, and might even do the old man one better. Seemingly incapable of not risking everything, Coppola has gone from being on top of the world to working off debts to finally making whatever film he damn well pleases, but in each of those stages he never removed himself from the equation entirely. It was he who knew The Godfather – as much a work-for-hire job as Jack would be over twenty years later – should be a period film about family, he who destroyed his sanity making Apocalypse Now (and his wealth a few years later with One From the Heart). In the 1980s and 90s, when he was making films that, according to him, he made solely to pay off debt, he still released totally singular works – nobody else would have ever made The Outsiders or Dracula the way he did. And now, two films into his “second career” (Youth Without Youth and Tetro), he’s making films nobody else could even conceive, let alone execute with his artistry and grace defined by his unfiltered emotional expression. He’s made, and continues to make, some messes along the way, but the results are so audacious, so perfect in their singularity, and so irreplaceable that his contributions to film art are not merely admirable, but vital to its livelihood.
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