Risk, drama, excitement, the intoxicating thrill of success, and the painful bitterness of defeat – that’s what we love about gambling, and that’s what movies about casinos and gambling are full of. Unfortunately, such movies are rarely on the radar of the film academy. We offer you the best casino-theme movies. They are certainly worthy of your attention even if they were not awarded the Oscar.
This 2007 film is included in each and every rating of top gambling movies. In general, it is a classic sports drama. however, it is not centered on hockey or basketball but rather on poker, moreover – the World Series. The story is based on the relationship between a poker superstar starred by Eric Bana and his father starred by Robert Duvall. The film was directed by Curtis Hanson. Despite the stellar cast and excellent script, the bet wasn’t successful – the movie didn’t make back the invested money and put Hanson’s career six feet under. Nevertheless, the movie is sure to brighten up your evening.
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
There has been a talk that when Madonna saw this 1998 movie, she announced that she was going to marry the director. It is not known for sure whether it really happened. Nevertheless, it is a fact that Guy Ritchie was indeed Madonna’s husband for seven years. The movie was the director’s debut on a big screen as before that he had been known only for making music videos. The distinctive manner of shooting, the selection of camera angles, and editing were fully reflected in the full-length movie. All of the above became features of his signature style. We will not retell the plot. Those who have not seen this excellent movie yet can enjoy it fully. By the way, the movie introduced not only Guy Ritchie but also Jason Statham to the cinematic world. The list of awards and nominations is quite impressive but there is no Oscar among them.
As the title suggests, this 2008 film is about blackjack. Thousands of people have probably tried to improve their finances or even make a fortune by trying different card-counting techniques. This is the basis of the plot of the film – the main character becomes a professional high roller using his extraordinary mathematical capabilities. The end can hardly be called happy. However, the film’s fate was rather successful: it brought in more than a hundred and fifty million dollars with a budget of thirty five million. Unfortunately, critics were not happy with the film.
The list of movies inspired by gambling can’t exclude this movie with such a suggestive title. It was released in 1995. It is a gangster saga created by such masterminds of the genre as Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. The lead female role was performed by Sharon Stone who rode the wave of success after the triumph of Basic Instinct. Almost all the plot takes place in the Mecca of gambling – the beaming Las Vegas. The movie tells the story of the early career, success, and downfall of Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein who progressed from a professional bettor to one of the bigwigs of the Mafia. Sharon Stone was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in this movie, which is widely regarded as one of the best films about Vegas. Nevertheless, she did not get the award that time.
Another iconic movie with an equally iconic title. Although modern audiences are more familiar with the 2014 remake with Mark Wahlberg starring as the lead, we highly recommend 1974 original, one of the best old casino movies of all time. The plot does not surprise with uniqueness: one morning, a teacher of literature, and at the same time a regular visitor of not quite legal gambling establishments finds himself in debtor status. he has to pay his creditors an obscenely large amount of money in North American currency. Admit it, we’ve seen all this more than one (dozen) times. But then… However, you have to watch it – let’s not deprive you of the pleasure to get acquainted with the iconic classics. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe award and firmly took its rightful place as a film classic.
Maverick is a salute to 1994, a blessed time when Mel Gibson’s name meant a lot more than it does now. And if he is on the screen with incredible Jodie Foster, success is guaranteed. Moreover, the success is not only financial: the movie was received by critics remarkably well. The plot is centered on an illegal casino located on a steamboat cruising along the Mississippi fairway. The main character has to hit the jackpot and manage to leave the boat with the winnings. And this is not easy at all, given the audience that gathers in such places. The movie received an Oscar nomination for costume design – it was no surprise since the action takes place in the times of the Wild West.
A 1998 movie in which… Yes, you guessed it right: the main character loses a large sum of money at the very beginning and becomes a debtor to a criminal kingpin. The movie would have been lost in a series of similar ones if it would not have been for the casting tandem of Matt Damon and Edward Norton. The first one had not yet turned into Jason Bourne, and the latter had not yet been a nameless storyteller from “Fight Club”, but even back then one could sense that these guys would rise high. Johnny Chan, the legend of the big poker world, acted as himself in one of the episodes. The movie did not achieve outstanding success at the box office, although it paid off and brought in a good profit (with a relatively modest budget). Nevertheless, critics were fond of it and it made its way to the official selection of the Venice Film Festival.
This movie is based on an autobiographical book by Molly Bloom, who became famous (and made a fortune) by arranging poker games. The book (and later the movie) reveals the ugly side of legal, illegal, and “gray” gambling. The movie won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Film Adaptation. However, the audience did not appreciate the efforts of the filmmakers – it is hard to describe the box office results as a success.
The 1991 movie tells the story of the real and legendary – the Jewish American gangster Benjamin Siegel known under the criminal nickname Bugsy. Vegas owes its existence to him. The plot is centered on a love story, the establishment of Las Vegas, and the tragic outcome of the short and dangerous life of a criminal kingpin. The movie got an Oscar for costume design and the work of the designer.
The Color of Money
Here is Martin Scorsese again! There is no crime in this 1991 film. However, if a master takes on the job, the outcome will be remarkable. The movie is dedicated to pool. Nevertheless, it is very relevant to gambling as this game is very popular in betting. Cinema connoisseurs will surely enjoy seeing a very young Tom Cruise and plunge into the twists and turns of the relationship and rivalry of the real wizards of the cue and the balls. The movie was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, and Best Motion Picture Adaptation, but in the end, the male lead actor, Paul Newman, took the only statuette.
This iconic 1988 film hardly needs any introduction. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman tell the story of a failed heir to a large fortune and his autistic brother who demonstrates the phenomenal mathematical ability to beat casinos. Trying to make money from his brother’s skills, the main character ends up developing a genuine connection with him. Surprisingly, the sentimental and poignantly touching story without any adventure not only captivated the critics but also resonated with ordinary viewers, bringing the box office results that exceeded the budget by more than ten times. It won four Oscars for Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture.
Here is another unfading classic. This time it dates back to 1973. The movie features well-known Paul Newman at his best and no less remarkable Robert Redford. The misadventures of the friends performed by these actors become the central storyline of the film. And seven novella episodes are laced on it, just like precious pearls:
- The Players;
- The Set-up;
- The Hook;
- The Tale;
- The Wire;
- The Shut-out;
- The Sting.
The movie was appreciated both by the audience (the box office results exceeded 150 million USD with a budget of 5 million USD) and by the critics – the movie won 7 statuettes and 3 nominations.
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