If you run down the lists of the greatest films of all time, you’ll find some usual suspects. Typically, Citizen Kane and Vertigo land near the top, as do Renoir’s Rules of the Game and The Searchers. It’s tough to argue with any of these picks.
However, you can’t help noticing they were all made before 1960. For modern film audiences and critics, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) and its sequel often rank among the best films. (Goodfellas, the 1990s answer from Martin Scorsese, also appears on these lists.)
Unlike Vertigo, Hitchcock’s classic that got shut out of the Oscars, Francis Ford Coppola’s lyrical mob film was recognized right away for the classic it was. When Coppola and his team delivered The Godfather: Part II in ’74, the Academy welcomed it with even more love — and several more awards.
Here’s the full count of Oscar nominations and wins for each film.
The first ‘Godfather’ won 3 Oscars on double-digit nominations.
While Coppola has spoken of the unbelievable pressure he faced making The Godfather, Paramount executives changed their tune when the box office receipts rolled in. After going out with a budget of $6 million, the film took in $26 million in its first 26 days in theaters.
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a million bucks a day. (It ended up grossing nearly $250 million worldwide.) By the time that year’s Oscar nominations came in, Paramount celebrated 11 nods for its new prestige film.
That included recognition for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and four nominations for actors. It won three. Along with a Best Picture statue, Marlon Brando won Best Actor for his performance as Don Corleone. Coppola shared the Best Screenplay Oscar with Mario Puzo.
The other four nominations came for Best Music (Nino Rota), Best Editing, Best Sound, and Best Costume Design. Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall received the other acting nods (for Best Supporting Actor).
‘The Godfather: Part II’ scored 6 Oscars on another 11 nominations.
Though 11 nominations seemed impossible to top, Coppola’s sequel, The Godfather: Part II, matched that number at the 1975 Oscars. Once again, the film won Best Picture and nabbed Coppola and Puzo their second Oscar for the script. It was the first sequel to ever win the prize for best film.
With Brando killed off in the first installment and Robert De Niro playing the young Vito Corleone, the character scored another award with De Niro’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar. In addition, Coppola won for Best Director, Rota for Best Music, and the film won Best Art Direction.
Rounding out the list of nominations were Pacino (Best Actor) and Talia Shire (Connie), Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth), and Michael Gazzo (Frank Pentangeli) in supporting roles. A Best Costume Design nod made it 11 in total.
Though the budget doubled the second time around, Paramount and Coppola (who co-produced) made their money back several times over with Part II. Combined with this awards haul, we’re guessing it was worth the headaches.
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