Casino games, films, sports; we all like a bit of entertainment from time to time. But what about when two of our biggest loves – film and casinos – combine? Is the end result any cop or do these screen versions of our much-loved card and table games fall short of the real thing?
Thankfully, with today’s incredible technology and cinematic capabilities – as well as outstanding attention to detail – we have a wide variety of casino-based films to choose from, many of which are truly great films. They’re realistic, well acted, well researched, and enough action at the Blackjack tables to keep any player satisfied.
So when it comes to the big screen, which casino films have the best characters, the best casino games action, and the loveliest leading ladies? Which tells a great story but also gets the setting right?
Here’s our top five pick of the best casino films of all time…
Leaving Las Vegas
One of the most heart-wrenching films you’re ever likely to see, and arguably Cage’s best ever role, this is a tale of the seedy side of Vegas life in all its bright lights, glitzy, yet destructive glory. Drinking one’s self to death may not seem like an appealing topic for a film, and it’s certainly not one to watch if you want cheering up, but this stellar production from Mike Figgis, that deserves its place in the top five.
Film Facts: starring Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue, and Julian Sands, this film won Oscars for Best leading actor and actress, plus a further 32 wins and 19 nominations
This 2003 instant classic directed by Wes Kramer is based in an old-school Vegas casino, and focuses on the idea of reverse fortunes due to love and luck. You have mobsters, a corrupt casino director and a beguiling leading lady as well as fraud, deception and one of the best Craps scenes ever shot.
Film Facts: Starring William H Macy, Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello, this film was nominated for an Oscar, plus 12 award wins (including National Society of Film Critics awards) and 22 further nominations
Another gritty, hard-hitting tale, this time of a reformed gambler who is forced to return to high-stakes poker to help save his troubled friend from being hounded by loan sharks. Made in 1998, this star-studded beauty has lots of action and a story of loyalty, love and loss at its heart. It is known for its excellent big name performances and considered by many as Matt Damon’s best ever role.
Facts: Starring Matt Damon, John Malcovich, Edward Norton, and Gretchen Mol, Rounders won a best actor award (from the SFCAA) and earned a Venice film festival nomination.
Take greed, power, deception, love, and murder, throw in a few mobsters, a trophy wife and mix it up inside a flashy gambling house Scorcese-style and what do you get? A cracking film with more action than you can shake a stick at. Sharon Stone sizzles as Ginger, Ace’s wife, while the casino scenes are action packed and atmospheric.
Film Facts: With an A-list cast including Robert de Niro, Sharon Stone, James Woods, and Joe Pesci, it’s no surprise that this received 1 Oscar nomination (best actress), 4 wins (including a Golden Globe) and 7 further nominations.
There’s even more at stake in this illegal gambling crime drama from tough guy Director Guy Ritchie. Made in 2005, Revolver upped the stakes by taking away from the money aspect, and focusing on playing for life itself. Centred around a confidence trickster hell bent on revenge, this is pure entertainment from start to finish.
Film Facts: Starring Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, and Vincent Pastore this film won the 2008 Golden trailer award for Best Foreign Action Trailer.
These are just a few of our favourite casino films – but now it’s over to you. What are your favourite casino films of all time and why?