The fantastic world of Las Vegas has been the muse of inspiration for countless film directors, some of whom have done an incredible job depicting the adventures, risks, and passions of gamblers, whether we are talking about decent players or good cheaters.
After having watched quite a few of such movies, we have made a totally subjective all-time top, which we hope will be useful to all cinephiles who want to get in the gambling mood.
So, without any further ado, here’s our top 5 casino movies of all times.
#5 21 (2008)
This movie proves that some have luck, and some make their luck.
Synopsis: It’s the case of one bright MIT student who is in dire need of tuition money, so he decides to join a gang of cool college kids. Under the supervision of a professor interpreted by Kevin Spacey, the group of students use the power of maths to turn odds into certain winnings at various casinos in Las Vegas. Things heat up quickly, though, and different interests clash into a beat-skipping story.
#4 Maverick (1994)
A juicy comedy starring Mel Gibson as the main character, but also featuring great side cast (Jodie Foster, much love).
Synopsis: The comic resides in his struggle to round up the money needed to enroll in a poker tournament. He thus tries to scam other talented contestants, drawing upon him their profound antipathy. All the mishaps make you want to escape the boring life you’ve been living and go on your own adventure.
#3 Ocean’s 11 (2001)
It’s a classic; you can’t pretend to be either into casinos or movies without having seen Ocean’s 11. Trust us, this film is game-changing.
Synopsis: George Clooney plays the role of a badass, charming thief who has just gotten out of jail and is already planning his next big hit. He teams up with 11 accomplices to orchestrate the most sophisticated casino theft in the history: robbing 3 Las Vegas casinos at the same time. Not even Chuck Norris could have pulled this one!
#2 Rounders (1998)
This movie shows the cheaters’ point of view, making them the good fellows of the story. It kinda makes you think about how relative the concepts of “good” and “bad” are.
Synopsis: The ladies’ sweetheart, Matt Damon, promises to quit gambling after having lost all his cash in a poker game against a Russian gangsta. However, this doesn’t last long, as he gets reunited with a fresh-out-of-prison friend (played by awesome Edward Norton) who needs to get hold of some money fast to pay a debt. Eventually, they get close to winning the money but are caught cheating, while Matt’s character also finds out the debt was owed to the Russian. The last poker duel is meant to close the circle in an epic battle.
#1 Casino (1995)
Who could better impersonate the early 70s casino mafia than Robert De Niro, playing the role of a low-level mobster? We all know the right answer is “nobody”. The rest of the cast is really great as well: Sharon Stone playing the trophy wife, Joe Pesci as a sloppy hitman and James Woods as Sharon’s ex-something.
Synopsis: The script follows Nicholas Pileggi’s book, revealing the intriguing world of casinos and its dark connections with corrupt politicians and authorities. Greed leads to games of power and, eventually, to murder, all coming down to one fight between two mobster friends. You will never look at the fab Las Vegas the way you used to. What can we say, Martin Scorsese nailed it this time as well.