#2: The Godfather
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writers: Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola; based on the novel "The Godfather" by Mario Puzo
When talking about movies as iconic as The Godfather (and to a lesser extent, The Shawshank Redemption), you can hardly say things that haven't already been said about fifteen million times. I'm no authority on cinematography. I'd be the last person on the planet that could critique Francis Ford Coppola, let alone any of the brilliant performances by any of the actors. Pacino and Brando especially are fantastic and, I dare say, cutting-edge in this seminal mob film.
The original score is haunting, and mournful. One of my theories on the film is that the entire thing is just one big requiem to organized crime as it was before World War II, and the music conveys that perfectly.
Pacino's performance is so remembered in the Godfather (although rightfully, in Brando's shadow), because he is not playing as what he is normally typecast: a man, often with a chip on his shoulder, armed with a short temper. In Godfather, he is more calm and reserved than in any other role. It's sad that his versatility has been so untapped in recent years. If you reflect on Pacino's career, Godfather is likely a highlight, but certainly contradicts the majority of his resume.
In contrast, Marlon Brando's performance in Godfather is probably the most iconic in all of film. The first impression you get of him is that he is a pure model of masculinity; he despises showing weakness, and never mixes business with personal matters.
Above all, I love this film because of the intertwining story arcs culminating in the definitive conclusion. It's almost a metaphor for the film itself, what with Don Vito calling the shots of every individual player.
The importance of family. The corruption of power. Earning respect. Themes like these have been present in secular media since the dawn of writing. I've never read or seen anything that succeeds in all of these areas to an extent of The Godfather.
Storytelling at its finest.
Overall Score (Out of 10, unweighted): 10