The eternal question among movie fans seems to be: The Godfather or The Godfather Part II? As you can see, my answer would be The Godfather but considering that the sequel is also in my Top 5 in this ranking, both movies can consider themselves to be among the greatest ever (at least in my opinion).
The brilliance of The Godfather Part II lies in its mixture of two major storylines – one of Michael Corleone and his actions as head of ‘the family’ and a flashback that tells how his father, Vito Corleone, came to New York and founded the Corleone crime family. Each story itself does not reach the same level of excellence that the plot of The Godfather reached but every time one of the story is in danger of losing some of its brilliance, The Godfather Part II changes its focus to the other story and captivates the viewer once again.
Personally, I prefer the plot concerning Michael Corleone a little bit more since it is an amazing display of the power of money and corruption, of questions regarding morality, loyalty, love and friendship and because Al Pacino gives a stunning performances for the ages that is completely deserving of its legendary status. But, of course, the cast around him does incredible work, too. Diane Keaton gives an unforgettable supporting performance and her confrontation scene with Al Pacino regarding her pregnancy is maybe the finest moment of the whole movie. Talia Shire got an Oscar nomination for her small role as Michael’s sister and while it can be argued if she was really worth that nomination, her plea for Michael’s brother Fredo is a very moving and honest moment. Speaking of Fredo, John Cazale is the unsung hero of this piece and his characterization is pitch-perfect and his scene with Al Pacino in Cuba, when Michael tells him that he broke his heart, is another highlight in a movie full of them.
In the flashback-story regarding Vito Corleone, Robert De Niro won himself an Oscar and he certainly captured the spirit that Marlon Brando had created two years earlier perfectly. It’s thrilling to see how the man who would later be Don Corleone lived before those times, how he came to New York as a little boy, how he started a family and later joined the world of crime.
I don’t think it’s really necessary to write anymore – surely everybody knows this movie and its reputation so it should be no surprise that I put it on number 5 in my ranking.