“The Godfather” series holds a special place in Oscar history, achieving an unprecedented feat. The original film won Best Picture in 1972, and then “The Godfather: Part II” claimed Best Picture in 1974, which is the only instance of two films winning Best Picture from the same franchise. Only a few other sequels have ever even been nominated for the top prize, and only one other has ever won: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003.
Both films are considered all-time classics, but which one is better? Judging simply by the number of Oscar wins, the academy seemed more fond of “Part II.” Out of 11 nominations, the sequel won six prizes: Picture, Director (Francis Ford Coppola), Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction and Score.
The original “Godfather” only won three Oscars out of its 11 bids: Picture, Actor (Marlon Brando) and Adapted Screenplay. But that film had to go up against the classic musical “Cabaret,” which swept the Oscars with eight wins including Best Director (Bob Fosse) and Best Actress (Liza Minnelli) despite losing the top prize. In fact, “Cabaret” is the most awarded film in Oscar history that didn’t win Best Picture.
But the most recent American Film Institute list of the top 100 American films of all time (announced in 2007) gives “The Godfather” the edge, placing it second behind “Citizen Kane,” while “Part II” ranks 32nd.
Our forum posters are currently debating the topic. Read some of their comments below, and click here to join the discussion. Then make sure to vote in our poll at the bottom of this post.
babypook: Both films have terrific aspects. I’ll go with “The Godfather,” a film which astonished me, and resurrected careers and also made them. Overall I’d say it’s a family saga which rivals Luke Skywalker’s.
Laactingnyc: “Part II.” I personally think the “Godfather” series is overrated. Not bad but overrated.
Halo_Insider: I think the first film is the overall better achievement in terms of editing, narrative scope, and character progression. Michael doesn’t complete his fall until “Part II,” but the ending of the first film is enough for one to realize just how changed a man he is. The first film is honestly something that I can’t turn away from when I see it. Every scene is engrossing to me … That said, “Part II” probably has some of my favorite individual scenes of the series. The ending, in particular, is one of my all-time favorite movie moments, transitioning from the nostalgic flashback to Michael’s isolated reflections.
GloFish: I actually like “Part III” best of all, especially Sofia Coppola‘s performance — OR NOT. What a terrible movie that was. I prefer “Part II.” The scenes at Lake Tahoe are so gorgeously shot (I think this is the last film in Technicolor – I could be wrong). The De Niro scenes in New York City sometimes drag but the rest flows smoothly. It hardly feels like three hours.
Eddy Q: “Part II” stayed with me a little longer, but it’s very close. I love the flashback structure with the sepia-toned past and how it complements the present, and Pacino’s performance is even greater than Brando’s. Though I do think “Part I” is slightly better edited.
ETPhoneHome: Whichever one I watch last, I say that it’s better. At the moment, that is the “Godfather 1.” Once I watch the second again, it will likely change. To be safe, I always put them as being equal.
Icky: “The Godfather” is one of those few near perfect movies. “The Godfather: Part II” is clumsy, clumsy as in graceless and needlessly fragmented. There’s no reason for it to be so episodic. The flashbacks didn’t do much for me. The whole parallel-between-father-and-son arc is too basic and doesn’t add any tension or weight. It just makes it longer. I never quite bought into Michael’s evolution from kind-hearted to cold bastard. Finally, it’s kinda boring. Solid effort but not much compared to the first.
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