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Francis Ford Coppola makes candid admission about Oscar defeat 50 years ago

Francis Ford Coppola makes candid admission about Oscar defeat 50 years ago

Francis Ford Coppola has admitted he was “heartbroken” not to win Best Director for The Godfather at the Oscars in 1973.

However, he also paid tribute to the man who beat him, Bob Fosse, who took home the prize for his work on Cabaret.

Writing on Instagram, Coppola recalled: “Like every young aspiring film director, I dreamed of one day winning the Best Director Oscar and holding that statue in my hand.

“In 1973, when The Godfather was nominated, it seemed as if my dream was going to come true, because I had won the Director’s Guild award and usually the winner of that wins the Oscar. Only a few times before had that not happened (in 1968, DGA winner Anthony Harvey lost to Carol Reed).

“So when I went to the award ceremony that night, and witnessed the success of The Godfather with other awards, I felt it likely I would win.”

“I confess I was surprised when the winner was announced and it was not me, but Bob Fosse for Cabaret. At the time I was heartbroken and remember the owner of Paramount consoling me with, ‘Well Francis, you won the Bank of America award!’

Francis Ford Coppola arriving at the Oscars in 2022
Francis Ford Coppola arriving at the Oscars in 2022

Coppola concluded: “But reflecting now I must tell you the truth: I am glad that it was Bob Fosse, who certainly deserved it. What an extraordinarily talent and a sweet lovable man as well. His work is monumental, not only for Cabaret and later Lenny but for the extraordinary All That Jazz. As I look back on that time, I can honestly say I’m grateful I lost to such a man as Bob Fosse!”

The Godfather was nominated for a total of eleven Oscars: Best Picture, Best Costume Design, Best Actor (Marlon Brando), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall), Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Director and Best Sound.

On the night it won three of those awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Marlon Brando and Best Picture.

The ceremony is remembered for Brando’s decision to decline the Best Actor Oscar, sending Native American actor and activist Sacheen Littlefeather to pick up the statuette in his place.

Coppola got his hands on his coveted directing Oscar just two years later, winning both Best Director and Best Picture for The Godfather Part II in 1975.

To mark the 50th anniversary of The Godfather in 2022, The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab spoke to Coppola and other members of the cast and crew about Brando, near-firings and how one of the most influential films of all time almost went very, very wrong.

Follow all of The Independent’s Oscars 2024 coverage here.