POP Battles: The Godfather vs. Goodfellas


Jacob Mercer, Staff Writer

The Godfather and Goodfellas are two of the most famous and quotable mafia movies of all time.  The Godfather follows the Corleone family and their quest to not get left behind in the quickly changing world of the mafia. Goodfellas tells a real life tale of Henry Hill and Jimmy Conway (James Burke) and their fast rise to power in the mob and their imminent arrests. Although they came out 20 years apart, there are plenty of similarities. With there being such a wide selection of mafia movies, ranging all the way back to 1932 with the original Scarface, there has been plenty of debate of which one is the best. In my opinion, these two stand out more than the rest. In any facet, whether its acting, filming, or writing these two go above and beyond any other mafia movie, and maybe any movie in general.

Best plot: Goodfellas

Even though both movies have amazing plots, I have to give this category to Goodfellas. I feel like what makes the plot so much better is that it actually happened. To watch the fast moving life of Henry Hill all the way from his youth in 1955 to 1980 and realize that it is all true is insane. This movie is so realistic in fact, that Robert De Niro, who played Jimmy Conway, hated the feel of the prop money, so he made the prop director withdraw several thousands of dollars from his personal bank account to use on set. No one was allowed to leave the set until all the money was counted and returned.  The director, Martin Scorsese, spent so much time on the plot that he read the book that described this event and he personally paid Henry Hill to come talk to Ray Liotta on set.

Best Acting: The Godfather

The Godfather featured some of the best actors of all time. This movie had Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Talia Shire, and the late greats, James Caan and John Cazale. Al Pacino’s role as Michael Corleone is known as one of the greatest and in-depth character developments in cinema. It’s so entertaining to watch this innocent man who just got back from war that didn’t want to be involved in his family business go to the head of his family within a matter of years. Pacino’s cold stare is piercing even to the viewer.

Best Directing/Cinematography: The Godfather

The Godfather is well known as Francis Ford Coppola’s and Gordon Willis’ magnum opus. The scenes in this movie that really stick out to me and win over The Godfather for me are the shots in Italy. Coppola shot in several different locations in the small towns of Savoca and Forza d’ Agro’. Although Martin Scorsese is one of my favorite directors of all time, if not my favorite, Coppola released a cinematic masterpiece.

Best Pacing: Goodfellas

Pacing is Martin Scorsese’s staple expertise. Although Goodfellas is about two hours and thirty minutes it doesn’t feel like it. This is a fast moving movie that keeps you hooked the entire time. The Godfather is about three hours of nonstop dialogue, which can be intimidating for viewers who are fairly new to cinema, but Goodfellas is one of the easiest and most rewatchable movies I’ve ever seen. Besides his 2019 movie, The Irishman, which is three and a half hours long, Martin Scorsese demonstrates his skill of pacing in great movies like Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Casino, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

I think that when it comes down to it, The Godfather is an overall better movie. There are great things about each movie and they are both trailblazers in their genre but The Godfather is better in virtually every facet compared to Goodfellas.