Best Picture Reviews: The Godfather Part II

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Sometimes it seems like there are two types of film buffs in the world. There are those who think the first Godfather is better, and those who think Godfather Part II is better. I think we can all agree that both are amazing films, but for me, the answer is clear. Not only do I think that Part II is the superior film, but it just might be my favorite Best Picture winner to date.

One of the things I liked in the first film was the parallels between Vito and Michael, and this film takes the idea and runs with it. The film cuts back and forth between two stories. There’s the story of Vito and his rise to power mixed in with Michaels story after the events of the first film. The movie is over three hours long (and you know how I usually feel about that) but because of these two interwoven stories, it flows very smoothly and doesn’t feel like it goes on forever. (And yet somehow, it wasn’t nominated for Best Film Editing. You figure that one out.)

I said in my review of the original that I had a hard time getting into a character based film that had unlikable characters. And yet, it miraculously works here. I think we see here that all of the characters have good and bad qualities. There is no outright ‘hero’ or villain’ in this movie. Everybody is somewhere in between. This is all executed brilliantly by Francis Ford Coppola, who drastically improves from the first outing.

And yet, the glue that holds this film together is the acting. Mamma mia, the acting in this film is phenomenal! Every single actor is worthy of a nomination, at least. Talia Shire, Michael V. Gazzo, and Lee Strasberg all gave really strong performances and rightly earned nominations, but Diane Keaton and John Cazale were both amazing, and somehow didn’t get in. Al Pacino excels as Michael once again, as this post explains.

And then we have Robert DeNiro as Vito Corleone in his prime. It’s one thing to play a character that’s already become iconic, but this isn’t like when multiple actors play James Bond, DeNiro completely convinces you that his character and Brando’s character are the exact same person. No easy task, to put it mildly, and he pulls if off beautifully.

While in the first film, you really were just watching the mob family, in this film, you feel like you truly become a part of the family. The Corleone’s all have good and bad qualities to them, like any family, really. And as a result of that, I made more of an emotional connection to this film than any of the other Best Picture winners before, and I chalk it up to the brilliance of Francis Ford Coppola, who proved that sequels can be done right.

*****

Seeing as how I’ve already seen and reviewed One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, I’m gonna move on to Rocky, but before I do, I have a question. Should I see Part III first and finish off the trilogy? And if I do, should I review it? Write your thoughts down in the comments.

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