Here are our top ten casino movies of all time, read on to see which cinematic portrayal made the cut!
It’s been a long week, of slogging away at your day job, dropping and fetching the kids from school – hauling self along the tiring commute to and fro, in the daily endeavour to get to the office, to plug into the work system, days’ spent working on your boss’s dream, only to haul self back to the homestead where dinner, bathtime book time and bedtime ensure relentlessly.
Sound all too familiar? Well, then we’ve got just the remedy for your work week blues; why not kick those kicks off, lean back into your favourite position on the sofa, and get settled into a relaxing time checking out one or two, if not all ten of the following best casino movies of all time?
Once you’ve got the popcorn on the ready, lights dimmed, your cosy comforter blanket wrapped round you and your loved ones, the only thing left to do is to decide which of the top ten best casino movies of all time you’d like to dive into first.
It’s not an easy task that we gave ourselves in attempting to give a succinct, yet comprehensive and informative, albeit wholly entertaining viewpoint on which of the many casino-related movies to pick as our all-time favourites, but out ourselves to the task we did, and all in all this mammoth challenge we accepted.
Below is the list of our top ten favourite casino movies, in no particular order and in no particular fashion – so, break out the soda pop and tasty treats, because here we go.
Directed by the award-winning director, Martin Scorsese and released in 1995, this epic and cult-classic movie is indeed a must-watch if you have not seen it yet. And if you have seen this perfect portrayal of casino-greats by the legendary Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and more, this movie is where the glamour and decadent lifestyles of casinos Las Vegas styles meets the grime and danger of mobster mentalities.
Quote from Casino, the movie: “In Vegas, everybody’s gotta watch everybody else. Since the players are looking to casino, the dealers are watching the players. The box men are watching the dealers. The floor men are watching the box men. The pit bosses are watching the floor men. The shift bosses are watching the pit bosses. The casino manager is watching the shift bosses. I’m watching the casino manager. And the eye-in-the-sky is watching us all.” (Source: http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0005482/quotes)
Released in 1973, this critically acclaimed, and box-office hit took the world by storm, and ushered in a whole new way of film-making. Directed by George Roy Hill, and starring then heartthrobs, Robert Redford and Paul Newman, The Sting went on to win an astonishing seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and more. Based on the premise of two con men, out to con a mobster, this movie is perfect moving picture piece that is bound to get those nostalgic moods brewing, as well as give some of the younger audiences a glimpse into what was once a simpler life altogether.
Quote from The Sting movie: “J.J. Singleton: He won’t touch ’em. The croupier at Gilman’s says he never plays anything he can’t win.” (Source: http://www.quotes.net/movies/10995)
Ocean’s Eleven (Twelve and Thirteen)
Being a remake of the original 1960’s movie, of the same name, Ocean’s Eleven set the stage for not just one, but two sequels. This trilogy is wholly entertaining, and continued to reach great box-offices success following the release of all three movies. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the first of this trilogy was released in 2001, followed by Ocean’s Twelve release in 2004, and Ocean’s Thirteen in 2007, the immense success and popularity of these movies is largely due to the stellar cast, as well as the witty screenplay and excellent portrayal of the premise throughout. Danny Ocean, played by George Clooney, employs the services of 10 other accomplices to tackle a massive task of stealing from multiple casinos, all in one night. The prestigious cast of these action-packed, comedic and down-right fun films include: Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy García, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Eddie Izzard, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Robbie Coltrane, to name a few. With a cast this prestigious, it’s little wonder that all three movies under this brand took the box office by storm.
Quote from Ocean’s Eleven: “Danny: Because the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes, the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big, and then you take the house.” (Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240772/quotes)
This casino movie is based on the real-life misadventures of six MIT students that took their talent for numbers to the next level, by employing the card-counting strategy of Blackjack to attempt to amass many millions of dollars in winnings. Directed by Robert Luketic, and released in 2008, this film, based on a true story stars great actors and household names as the main cast, the likes of Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Bosworth, and Jim Sturgess. Loosely based on the best selling book by Ben Mezrich, called ‘Bringing Down the House’, which tells the tale of these infamous six MIT students, the Blackjack Team, 21 the movie became a great success upon its release.
Quote from the movie, 21: “Micky Rosa: It’s really simple, actually. You play against the dealer. Um, you’re given two cards. Face cards are worth 10 points. The closest to 21 wins. If you go over, you lose. If the dealer goes over, they lose.” (Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478087/quotes)
This next top casino movie is quite a fun change up, in terms of the premise of the movie and the screenplay. The Cooler, played by the actor, William H. Macy, is a man so down on his luck that casino owners employ him to stand by players who appear to be on a ‘hot streak’, where his dismal luck affects those around him, thus leaving the casino (the house) in a favourable house edge again. That is until this main character’s luck changes, he falls in love, and actually ends up making all casino players around him luckier than before. This movie is funny and packed with great moments. Directed by Wayne Kramer and released in 2003, this movie could very well be considered an oldie but a goodie, by today’s standards. The impressive cast includes Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello, Shawn Hatosy and Ron Livingston.
Quote from The Cooler: “Love …you have to play to win.” (Source: http://www.threemoviebuffs.com/review/cooler.html)
This movie is a great tale of friendship, and doing what must be done to make your dreams come true. Directed by John Dahl and released in 1998, this movie showcases the young and fresh (back then they were young and fresh) talents of Matt Damon and Edward Norton. Focusing on the game of Poker, Rounders is basically the poster child for all avid poker players, and has a rather large fan base indeed. Rounders has a great cast of great actors, including but not at all limited to the following: John Turturro, John Malkovich, Famke Janssen, Michael Rispoli, Martin Landau and Gretchen Mol.
Quote from Rounders, the movie: “In Confessions of a Winning Poker Player, Jack King said, ‘Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.’
This movie is a stark reminder of the dangers of gambling, and the reality that unfortunately many a player gets in too deep, and find themselves in over their heads in a habbit that cripples their everyday lives. Directed by Karel Reisz, and released to the public in 1974, the main protagonist, played by James Caan, is an English professor that struggles with the throws of gambling. The fact that James Caan was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in this movie is a testament to the quality that The Gambler is comprised of. As the movie ambles to an end, so does this main character scramble to his end, his demise, as the gambling aspects of his life threaten to swallow him up whole. This movie is critically acclaimed, and is a good movie to watch indeed. Being loosely based on the life of the screenplay author, James Tobeck, this movie really takes an in-depth look into the mind (and life) of a gambling player. Worth a mention, this epic movie was remade in 2014, the protagonist is played by the actor Mark Wahlberg.
Quote from The Gambler, 1974 movie: “I’m not going to lose it. I’m going to gamble it.” (Source: http://afilmadaybysonia.blogspot.co.za/2016/03/the-gambler-1974.html)
Directed by Mike Hodges, this movie is believed to have been the big break that catapulted Clive Owen’s career to stardom. This critically acclaimed British Noir film was released in 1998, and received quite rave reviews from Northern American film critics, and accordingly gained great traction abroad. Based on the premise of a writer (portrayed by Clive Owen) who takes up a job in a casino as a croupier, this movie shows the seedy world of gambling from a croupier’s perspective. A great watch, so get ready for some good movie watching with this one.
Quote from Croupier, the movie: “Gambling’s not about money… Gambling’s about not facing reality, ignoring the odds.” (Source: http://www.moviequotes.com/croupier.cgi)
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story
This epic biopic is based on the life of Stuey Ungar, the American Professional Poker player. A great rendition and portrayal of the rise and fall of this great poker player, as the actor Michael Imperioli takes on the role and delivers a wonderful performance throughout. Directed by A.W Vidmer, who also wrote the screenplay, this biographic movie was released in 2003. Showcasing a stellar cast, the likes of Michael Nouri, Pat Morita, Renee Faia and Steve Schirripa, this movie is sure to entertain against all odds.
Quote from High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story: “Stu ‘Stuey’ Ungar: See, life is a people game, too. Only… the emphasis is just a little bit different.” (Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338467/quotes)
We would be remiss if we didn’t include at least one of the James Bond movies, and in true James Bond style – we’ve chosen to keep things ‘shaken, not stirred” by making our very last top ten pick the remake of the classic 1967 offering, Casino Royale. This 2006 rendition of the epic James Bond film series was directed by Martin Campbell and stars Daniel Craig as he infamous MI6 agent, James Bond. Following on from the original movie, by the same name, Daniel Craig goes all out with his portrayal and version of what James Bond would be, and managed to gather quite a following with this Casino Royale version. You will have to watch it for yourself, to judge as to whether or not this James Bond is your favourite, or not, and as to whether or not this remake of the 1967 classic is deserving of the James Bond film series brand name, or not.
Quote from Casino Royale (2006) movie: “Felix Leiter: Listen, I’m bleeding chips. I’m not going to last much longer. You have a better chance. I’ll stake you. I’m saying I’ll give you the money to keep going…” (Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381061/quotes)
If you’ve had the pleasure of checking out these top ten casino movies before, or you’re just hearing about them now for the first time, either way you’re sure to know that you’re in for a right treat. Your best bet would be to go all in, and watch each epic casino movie scene for scene, enjoying every candid moment, line for line.
You can thank us later! Happy casino movie watching!