Al Pacino received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Micheal Corleone in The Godfather.
In the early part Pacino shows Micheal just be a normal man who wishes to live just a normal life. Unfortunately he is called back into the family when his father Vito is severely wounded by an assassination attempt. At this point in the film Pacino is someone we as the viewers can really empathize with as just a normal guy who cares for his father, and tries his best to help his family. His first time being called into to help his family is almost by accident as he goes to save his father from being killed. Pacino shows this as not yet wanting to be part of the family business, but rather being pulled into it by an unfortunate circumstance, and his genuine love for his family.
Micheal though is further pulled in though where he comes with a plan to rid the family of two rather key enemies. This transformation is somewhat sudden by necessitated by the situation. Micheal transformation here could have been made very wrong, but Pacino very carefully portrays the subtle changes of Micheal here, showing that he still is the man at the beginning of the film, but the situation has brought out perhaps something internally held by Micheal. Pacino also brilliantly suggests the cold calculating Micheal of later, but only little showing him to be more emotional here over the condition of his father, but still showing the change of Micheal beginning none the less.
The biggest scene I would say of Pacino's though is when he finally carries out his plan, which is simply an acting masterpiece by Pacino in this scene. This scene Pacino puts on the facade to the men he going to kill of being there just as a negotiator for the family. At the same time though Pacino incredibly subtle shows the incredibly tension and fear going through Micheal as he goes through this life changing night. I think the most incredible moment is just before he is going to perform the deed the camera fixes on Pacino, and he shows all of what is going through his mind simply brilliantly showing just with almost just his eyes the emotions Micheal is feeling and building up to the final decision he makes and acts upon.
His action shows that he has not fully transitioned yet and in his exile scenes Pacino shows an interesting middle of Micheal transition. He shows the beginning of his command over situations such as when he manipulates the father of the woman he plans to marry, but he still shows the older Micheal in the way he still seems charming and likable. After the tragic ends of his exile though Micheal transition goes even closer to his miserable end. He shows one more moment of his past in his final talk with his father. Both Pacino and Brando in this scene as they reflect on the time loss are brilliant as they show a father and son who have lost what they had or could have had, simply a terrific moment for both actors.
Any of good of Micheal leaves with Vito as he becomes completely on his own, and Pacino brings his brilliant subtle transition to an end. He reaches his end as a cruel cold man. Pacino is stunning in how calculating and chilling he shows Micheal is now. He always always shows Micheal examining his situation, and controlling all he wants with always the same cold demeanor. The most outstanding part is that Micheal started as a nice man, but is brought down to the worst kind of man. Pacino's entire transition is completely natural which makes the change in Micheal completely chilling as well as being especially disheartening. Pacino's performance simply is an amazing performance.