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Some of the top casino movies of all time

There are a number of different ways you can go with a casino type movie. One can show the high life and glamour of those that bet and win big, another can show those who keep on trying yet never manage to get that elusive win, while others delve into those who use criminal ways – whether it be the big con or guns and muscle. Whichever way you go, a casino movie can be wildly entertaining.

From the smaller indie films to the larger star-studded movies such as Ocean’s 11, there really is something for everyone and for whatever mood you may be in. With the way technology keeps on advancing there is also something satisfyingly old school about the classic casino, but it won’t be much longer until we inevitably see films that use online casinos as a backdrop to tell a great story.

Without further ado, here are some of the best casino movies of all time.

Ocean’s 11 (2001)

Steven Soderbergh decided the remake the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name and brought us an action-packed comedy full of big names – George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Andy García, Bernie Mac, Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner, and Julia Roberts. The result was a cool, fun-filled movie full of snappy dialogue, twists and turns, and great performances from everyone involved. It also showed some of the behind the scenes goings-on at a casino

The sequels were a bit hit and miss, but the 2001 film is still a great watch.

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

A little more series than the previous entry, this one was written and directed by Mike Figgis. It stars Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. Cage plays a suicidal alcoholic in Los Angeles who has decided to move to Las Vegas and drink himself to death. Based on the semi-autobiographical 1990 novel of the same name by John O’Brien, the film is poignant, dramatic and shows the relationship between two damaged souls. Beautiful performances from both Cage and Shue make this well worth a watch if you have yet to see it.

Casino Royale (2006)

This was the third adaptation of Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel of the same name and our first mission with Daniel Craig as James Bond. A fantastic action thriller, whose main scenes involve the poker game at Casino Royale in Montenegro with the villainous Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). The scenes at the poker table are just as tense as some of the more action-packed moments and the film is still arguably Craig’s best turn as 007.

Hard Eight (1996)

This Paul Thomas Anderson crime thriller stars Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Samuel L. Jackson. It follows a senior gambler teaching a younger man how to gamble and win. Of course, once the younger man becomes successful he gets cocky and things go off the rails. Superb performances make this a must-watch.

Fear and Loathing in La Vegas (1998)

Terry Gilliam took the Hunter S. Thompson novel and just went all in. He brought us a fantastic central performance from Johnny Depp as he goes on a drug-fuelled journey through the casinos of Las Vegas and the surrounding Nevada desert. A trippy, funny, scary adventure that has some excellent moments of surrealism.

Casino (1995)

Of course, no list of casino-based movies would be complete without Martin Scorsese’s classic movie Casino. It stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. While it doesn’t show a great deal of gambling, it does give us a great look at the day to day running of a mob-era casino empire. We follow Ace Rothstein and Nicky Santoro, mobsters who move to Las Vegas to make their mark. Ace is the operator of the Tangiers Casino, while Nicky is the tough guy who shakes down the locals. Things go well until their own flaws and worries start everything tumbling down.


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