Movies thrive on drama, so it’s no surprise that the high stakes world of gambling is often used to inspire amazing cinematic stories.
Of course with so many films about gambling to choose from, there are some shining examples of the genre that are a must-see as well as a few duds to avoid. Here is a look at the cream of the crop to add to your watch list.
Image Source: Pixabay
A relatively recent addition to the canon of great gambling movies, Molly’s Game stars Jessica Chastain in the title role as an ambitious woman who organizes underground poker games for the rich and powerful.
Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, it has all the features and tropes that you would expect from one of Hollywood’s most distinctive creative talents. It is also something of a thrill ride, encompassing strong performances across the board.
This British flick is the spark that lit the fuse of star Clive Owen’s career, earning him the attention of producers across the pond that would lead to his ascent into the A-list.
Croupier itself is an interesting and unusual beast, avoiding the glitz and the glamour of some gambling films in favour of a lower key approach. Owen plays a wannabe-author who works the tables at a London casino to make ends meet and eventually gets involved in a scheme to steal cash from his place of work.
Cool, calm and infused with the ethos of older film noir titles, this movie is dripping with late-90s charm. It also harks back to an era before digital gambling was widespread; while today the likes of Casumo casino make it accessible to the masses, back then casinos were land-based and exclusive in terms of their clientele.
Not just a great movie about gambling, but arguably one of the best films of the past decade, Uncut Gems is a stress dream of intensity with Adam Sandler’s powerhouse performance as a jewellery store owner in over his head pushing the piece along at breakneck speed.
The pure self-destructive nature of the central character is what gives the film its nail-biting sense of pace, and it is often more terror-inducing than modern horror films. So while it may not be for the faint hearted, Uncut Gems is an undeniable modern classic.
The Color of Money
The life of a perennial hustler is explored in intricate detail in The Color of Money, a film which earned its star Paul Newman a best actor Oscar for the first time after years of nominations and near misses.
Newman embodies Fast Eddie Felson, a pool shark who still stalks the halls and lurks by the green baize table tops in search of his next competitor. A young Tom Cruise brings vim and vigour as a counterpoint to this world-weariness, while director Martin Scorsese is one again masterfully manipulative of the camera and of the audience’s expectations.
Having two Scorsese films in any list of amazing movies is ultimately inevitable, and there’s definitely merit to creating your own double bill of The Color of Money followed by 1995’s Casino.
This is one of his most brilliant and brutal gangster pictures, with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci both on top form. Pesci in particular is a fascinating, fearful presence; a mobster in Vegas with an incredibly short fuse and a penchant for unpredictable acts of violence.
Sin City is painted as a colourful, alluring and yet ultimately unhinged and dangerous place, the veneer of the bright casino lights barely masking its rotten core. It is a crime epic which pulls no punches, and is all the more watchable because of this.