Goodfellas vs The Godfather: Which Mafia Drama is Better?

The Godfather and Goodfellas are two of the greatest films ever made, but which is the best?

Pop culture’s interpretation of gangsters and the mafia owes much to two films: The Godfather and Freedmen. They’re two of the greatest films of all time ever made, but they’re very different in style and tone despite both dealing with crime families and being based on books. Plus, both films feature some of the greatest acting performances ever to appear on screen. As such, they are undeniable masterpieces that have an influence not only on the crime genre, but on popular culture as a whole. There’s a reason people keep coming back to these movies.

The Godfather recounts the Corleone family as they balance their family commitments at home with the horrific crime business in which they operate. The film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and spawned two sequels. Freedmen depicts the rise and fall of a low-level mobster, Henry Hill, and his associates, located outside the inner circle of a large crime family. This film was directed by cinema icon Martin Scorsese. Both films are masterpieces of cinema, but which wins in a head-to-head?

RELATED: The Real-Life Inspirations Behind The Godfather’s Don Corleone

Critics prefer The Godfather to the Goodfellas

Film criticism is not always an easy task. Filmmaking is an art, and art is subjective, so results may vary when it comes to critical ratings. When comparing the critical response to The Godfather vs Freedmen, the former comes out on top with a perfect Metacritic score of 100 and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%. On the other hand, Freedmen has a Metacritic score of 90 and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96%. When the scores are so close, however, the difference between the films could be attributed to a matter of taste. Although the acclaimed critic Roger Ebert preferred Freedmenthe vast majority of critics give the honor of best gangster film to The Godfather.

The Godfather has won more Oscars than Goodfellas

Terribly, Freedmen only won one Oscar at the 1991 Academy Awards despite being nominated in six categories. In comparison, The Godfather won three Oscars and was nominated in 11 categories – revised to ten after his nomination for The best music has been revoked after being deemed ineligible. From the point of view of pure numbers, The Godfather was considered a best film by The Academy, however dance with wolves‘ victory in the category of the best film on Freedmen is one of the most controversial controversies in the history of awards. Again, as with the reviews category, the Oscars are a subjective body and are far from perfect in determining true cinematic excellence. However, from a purely numerical point of view, there is no doubt The Godfather comes out on top.

RELATED: How Marlon Brando’s Iconic Godfather Role Inspired A Star Wars Character

Goodfellas Has Better Female Characters Than The Godfather

goodfellas karen

Both movies feature fairly large casts of characters who fill a variety of movie roles and functions, and both feature some interesting female characters. However, it’s arguable that the female characters, especially the love interest lead, are more well-rounded and compelling characters. Karen in Freedmen actively contributes to the story. Not only that, but she can also tell her point of view, which leads to a better understanding and understanding of her character, and the audience understands her motivations.

On the other hand, Kay Adams in The Godfather does not have the same depth of character. When Michael flees to Italy, he moves on and marries someone else. But by the time he returns to America, Kay is surprisingly and conveniently still available and seems to be waiting for him despite her beauty, intelligence, and charm. Her character seems to be taking a break while Michael is away, so she’s in exactly the right position when she returns. There’s very little time spent exploring her character or figuring out why she’s in this relationship and enrolling in a family business that she doesn’t fully understand and will never truly belong to.

Goodfellas or the Godfather: Which gangster movie is the best?

the Godfather

From a metric point of view, it appears that The Godfather may be the gangster movie superior to Freedmen. However, it’s an incredibly close race, and the true winner can probably only be determined by a matter of personal taste. The Godfather is a darker and slower film, whereas Freedmen has a frenzied, electrifying energy that pulsates throughout the runtime. They both inspired the pop culture that followed them, and there’s no denying their influence. The Godfather barely rests on Freedmen because of its critical reception and recognition. Even though female characters are better in Goodfellas, that’s not quite enough to catapult it above its predecessor.

KEEP READING: Colin Farrell’s The Batman: Penguin Was Inspired by a Tragic Godfather Character

Batman and Harley Quinn

Why a ‘Grown Up’ Version of Batman: The Animated Series Fell Flat

About the Author