When done right, movies based around casinos can become revered as classics.
It’s a fine line between getting it right or getting it wrong, but some of the best tread that line perfectly to encapsulate audience around the world.
We here at Stake have thought long and hard about how to rank these particular films. Let us assure you it wasn’t easy.
Here are our top five casino-based movies of all time.
5. Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
After a lacklustre sequel to the unanimously loved Ocean’s Eleven, the third and final entrant in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy had a lot to live up to.
On occasion, a disappointing sequel is followed up by an even less appreciated third movie, leaving the majority of filmgoers disheartened.
Ocean’s Thirteen did a great job at bucking that trend, bringing back what fans loved about the first movie.
George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon amongst many others return to the roles they made famous, with Clooney standing out particularly.
Combine the performances from our protagonists with Al Pacino brought in as the main antagonist, you’ve got yourself a fine movie.
Pacino certianly doesn’t set the world on fire with his performance, but he does a great job at portraying someone you’d just love to punch in the mouth.
Andy Garcia also makes a great return as Terry Benedict, adding another element to the movie.
In terms of casino movies, the film does nothing wrong. Other than some classic movie tropes which we’ve seen before, everything is more than competent.
All in all, Ocean’s Thirteen is by no means a classic that will be talked about for decades on end. However, it revives a franchise once thought dead, giving our heroes a proper send-off.
4. Mississippi Grind (2015)
A criminally underrated film starring a well-established Hollywood actor and an up-and-comer.
Mississippi Grind does a great job at making you care for the two lead actors, Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn.
The movie stars Mendelsohn as a veteran gambler who teams up with Reynolds in a bid to make money on the Mississippi gambling scene.
Although the general movie tropes do not surprise too much, the film opens up a conversation millions of people around the world would have trouble acknowledging.
Gambling addictions can destroy lives. This film takes a huge risk by entering this discussion, but it pays off and then some.
Reynolds and Mendelsohn are fantastic, really selling their characters and helping the film feel entrenched in reality.
They are well supported on screen by Sienna Miller and behind the scenes by directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
This film is too easily forgotten about when it comes to casino movies. With all the spare time we find ourselves with now, you’d be silly to not see this one.
3. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
A bonafide classic, Ocean’s Eleven helped to revolutionise the way films were made in 2001.
Despite a serious plot, the movie keeps you engrossed with its charm, wit and extraordinary cast.
Clooney, Damon, Pitt, Cheadle and many more make this movie what it is.
Danny Ocean (Clooney) leads a team to take down Terry Benedict’s (Andy Garcia) casino empire in Vegas.
Clooney has only just been released from prison and is looking for revenge on the man who is now with his ex-wife (played by Julia Roberts).
At no point in the movie do you feel uninterested or bored. A combination of a quick-moving script and plot twists keep you on edge at all times.
By the end of the movie, everyone lives happily ever after. But how they got there makes the movie.
In contrast to the last movie on this list, Ocean’s Eleven takes a serious subject matter and spins it completely.
This legendary film holds a lot of prestige in the world of casino movies. It’s considered to be in the upper echelon of movies in the actors’ filmographies. Which is high-praise considering what films these A-listers have done.
2. Casino (1995)
This movie’s title couldn’t be more on the nose if it tried.
Martin Scorsese’s unforgettable 1995 film starring Robert De Niro is extremely unlucky to not make number one on this list.
The legendary film-maker created something memorable with Casino, setting the bar for anyone who tried to replicate.
De Niro is supported by a phenomenal cast, including Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone and the late Don Rickles.
Unlike Ocean’s Eleven, there’s no fun and games when it comes to this movie. To be fair, this is the case with most Scorsese movies.
Despite being revered in cinema circles, the film was nominated for only one Academy Award.
Sharon Stone was the one who shone brightest in the all-star cast, earning herself an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Ginger McKenna.
If you are one of the very few who have not seen this movie, we couldn’t recommend it any more than what we are right now.
1. Casino Royale (2006)
A changing of the guard.
The kind of violence and action we weren’t used to seeing in Bond movies.
Martin Campbell’s take on the Ian Fleming novel not only gave us a classic casino movie, but perhaps the greatest Bond movie ever.
Daniel Craig made the Bond role his own after this performance, grounding the character firmly in reality with a nuanced performance.
Mads Mikkelsen famously portrayed Le Chiffre, one of the best Bond villains of all time.
Furthermore, the twists and turns taken in this movie make it captivating from the get-go, with no time to dwell.
Craig’s introduction as Bond gives off an early indication that this isn’t your grandfather’s Bond.
It’s a grittier, meaner Bond who prefers to shoot first, ask questions later.
The time spent during the movie at the casino makes for compelling cinema, with expectation subversions and some classic Texas Hold’em poker play.
Casino Royale doesn’t put a foot wrong, with nearly everything perfectly executed.
The movie also does a great job at standing on its own, despite a clear directive to help set up the future Bond movies.
Whether you prefer the more unrealistic takes on Bond or the newer movies, no-one can deny the sheer brilliance of Casino Royale.
How would you rank casino-based movies from the past? Let us know on social media and get involved in the conversation!