Best Casino-Themed Movies
If you’re like most people, just the hearing word “casino” calls to mind glitz, glamour, and that one-of-a-kind thrill of potentially hitting a huge jackpot. So who wouldn’t want to see a movie set in a casino? No one we know, that’s for sure. Casinos have figured prominently in high-stakes adventure blockbusters, indie romances, rollicking comedies, and everything in between. Here are seven of our favorite casino-themed movies:
This 1995 Martin Scorsese masterpiece tells the tale of two mobsters: one trying to build a respectable career in the growing Las Vegas gambling industry and the other who is obsessed with greed. The film stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone, who won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and was also nominated for an Oscar.
2. The Cooler
In old-school casino lingo, a “cooler” is an unlucky person whose presence at the gambling tables results in a streak of bad luck for the other players. In this 2003 romantic drama, William H. Macy plays a casino-funded cooler whose curse breaks when he falls in love with cocktail waitress Maria Bello. How does he square his newfound luck with the casino bosses? You’ll have to watch it yourself to find out.
3. Ocean’s Eleven
This 2001 remake of a famous 1960 film has an impressive A-list roster including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, and others as master thieves plotting to simultaneously rob three Vegas casinos. Two sequels followed (Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen), each adding another “thief” to the crew. Another chapter is soon to come: Ocean’s Eight, led by lady thieves this time.
4. Casino Royale
Taking a break from the Vegas-dominated film, this 2006 James Bond film takes place in the glamourous casinos of Europe, including Montenegro, where the cunning Bond (played by Daniel Craig) outwits a criminal poker player as part of his secret spy assignment. While the majority of the film takes place in standard action-movie settings, the glamorous casino scenes are thrilling enough to earn it a spot on this list.
5. Hard Eight
A popular sub-theme in casino-themed films is the mentor-protégé trope, where a grizzled former pro teaches an enthusiastic newcomer the tricks of the trade. In this 1996 drama, Philip Baker Hall is the mentor and John C. Reilly is his now-successful apprentice working the casinos in Reno. Things take a turn for the worse when the apprentice falls in love with Gwyneth Paltrow’s cocktail waitress character and violent complications ensue.
To say casinos frown upon card-counting is a massive understatement, so we’re conflicted about adding this based-on-a-true-story 2008 film that portrays MIT students mastering the technique and setting off to Vegas to get rich quick at the blackjack tables. However, considering the ending (we won’t tell), we’ll recommend this thrilling drama with the obvious caveat: Don’t try this at home!
7. National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation
Anyone who’s a fan of this National Lampoon series knows that a Griswold family vacation never goes according to plan. In this 1997 entry, Chevy Chase’s iconic character blows all his savings at the casino and hijinks ensue as he tries to win it back. The movie is also memorable for the return of “Cousin Eddie” and of course, teenage Rusty Griswold’s fake-ID toting alter ego, Nick Pappagiorgio.
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