Sofia Coppola’s poignant relationship comedy had no competition that year. It was unquestionably the best in its field and became a strong contender for the Oscar as well. Sofia’ s career essentially began when her famous father, at a loss to find a replacement for Winona Ryder in Godfather III, gamely cast his daughter, who had never done any serious acting before. Her casting became the butt of criticism, but when critic Pauline Kael called her performance the best thing in the film, it was no backhanded compliment. Nonetheless, it weaned her off acting, and wisely she chose a different path, following in her father’s footsteps.
Her first directorial effort, The Virgin Suicides, was well received by critics and made Josh Hartnett a teenage sex symbol. Lost in Translation was her follow-up film, and it remains her masterpiece. Over the years she’s established herself as an important director; among her subsequent films, Marie Antoinette, The Bling Ring and The Beguiled, which not surprisingly found more support overseas than in the U.S. Lost in Translation won numerous awards that year. Besides the three Golden Globes, for Best Comedy or Musical, for Bill Murray as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, and for Best Screenplay, Sofia Coppola, it was awarded the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, and Murray and Scarlett Johansson won BAFTA Best Actor and Actress Awards.
The critics were equally generous in doling out their honors. Both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics voted Bill Murray Best Actor of the Year. The New York Film Critics topped them by naming Murray Best Actor and Sofia Coppola Best Director. She also received an award for special filmmaking achievement from the National Board of Review. In a 2016 international critics' poll by the BBC, Lost in Translation was voted the 22nd greatest film since 2000.
The film was also a huge commercial success, grossing $119 million on a budget of $4 million. Coppola told the HFPA she wrote the film with Murray in mind and said she would not have made it without him. It, in turn, certainly helped revive his flagging career. The final scene in the movie still remains elliptical. In it, Bill Murray whispers something into Scarlett Johansson's ear. What did he say? Sofia wanted it left to the imagination and there it remains to this day.