2. The Godfather Part II (1974)

Robert DeNiro as Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II

Sequel to: The Godfather (1972)

As The Godfather Part II was the first sequel ever to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, its inclusion here is probably somewhat obvious. Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is still considered one of the greatest crime movies ever made, chronicling the rise of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) as he comes to take control of his father’s criminal empire. It also featured the legendary Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, an iconic character who also featured heavily in the sequel.

The Godfather Part II largely consists of flashbacks to Vito Corleone’s own experience of coming to America and beginning his own journey to the top of the criminal underworld. Starring Robert De Niro as the younger Vito Corleone as well as Al Pacino reprising his role from the first movie, The Godfather Part II is a dual drama that shares the focus between Michael and Vito as each comes into his own as the leader of the powerful family enterprise. It cleverly makes use of both of the original movie’s most compelling characters, while also introducing the exceptional Robert De Niro to proceedings.

Essays have been written examining all the ways that The Godfather Part II should be considered a perfect sequel. It’s seen by many as a near-perfect movie, and therefore, chronicling the many ways that it’s able to build upon and surpass its also brilliant predecessor is essentially a pointless endeavor. Suffice it to say that The Godfather Part II retains the brilliance of the first film while also adding some historical context to proceedings using the talents of De Niro – that essentially covers what makes the sequel such an excellent example of how to improve upon an already legendary film.