Sofia Coppola, whose assured hands shaped Lost In Translation into one of the most delicate and wise bittersweet romances, turned to direction after most critics panned her performance in her father Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather III.
But not many know that she had acted in half a dozen movies by her father, including Rumble Fish. But the parts were so small that hardly anyone noticed her.
Coppola became a director with a small budget film (about $3 million) The Virgin Suicides, that became an arthouse hit three years ago, and is the youngest of the five Oscar nominees. She is 33.
The oldest is Clint Eastwood, the Mystic River director, who is 74.
Coppola, who has also been nominated for the original script of Lost In Translation, made the film for about $5 million. Its worldwide gross is $80 million and climbing.
Coppola and Eastwood are the only two Americans among the five Oscar nominees for direction. Eastwood, who has acted in some 60 films and produced and directed 26, starting with Play Misty For Me in 1971, is reputed to be one of Hollywood's most economical filmmakers. Just a few of his films have flopped at the box-office.
Mystic River was made for just about $35 million. Its worldwide gross has exceeded $130 million, and there is some more to come.
Peter Jackson, the New Zealand director who is 43, directed five films, including Heavenly Creatures, the grim murder drama that introduced Kate Wilson, before The Lord Of The Rings trilogy was offered to him. All his previous films together did not cost more than $20 million. He must have been so persuasive that New Line, a sister division of Warner Bros, took what looked like an audacious step of giving him $300 million four years ago to shoot the three The Lord Of The Rings sagas one after another.
Peter Weir, 59, made several small films in Australia such as Picnic At Hanging Garden till Hollywood beckoned him with projects like Dead Poet's Society six years ago. At $130 million, his Master And Commander is the most expensive of the films nominated for Best Direction. Though it received glowing reviews, the movie has grossed not-so-commanding $200 million.
In his 40s, the Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles has suddenly leaped into international limelight thanks to the rave reviews that City Of God, a tough, violent and yet moving study of slum violence, has received. His was the most unexpected of the five nominations, and perhaps derailed the prospects for other highly touted directors like Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain).
Even before the surprise Oscar nomination, Meirelles had caught the attention of producers in England and America. He had been signed to direct his first English language film in late December. The movie, Constant Gardner starring Ralph Fiennes is based on the international bestseller of the same name by John Le Carre.
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