Many movies are gambling focused: whether it was with the tones of comedy, biopic, or with almost educational and moralistic intent, cinema has brought to the big screen stories of gamblers, of people betting money, freedom and sometimes even life for an adrenaline rush.
Gambling comes in many forms: on the one hand, the world of betting on one’s own abilities, and on the other, the glittering, adrenaline-fueled world of casinos. And it is precisely to the world of casinos that the imagery of gambling is very often linked, as shown, for example, by the Ocean’s Eleven saga.
So, if you are a casino games fan, here is a list of seven movies centered on gambling.
7. 21 by Robert Luketic (2008)
Directed by Robert Luketic and starring Kevin Spacey and Jim Sturgess, 21 is inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team, active between 1980 and 1990.
It tells the story of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, who achieved numerous winnings and large amounts of money when you couldn’t play online blackjack yet. So, they used to resort to their intellectual gifts by using card counting techniques in the game of blackjack in physical casinos.
6. Molly’s Game by Aaron Sorkin (2017)
Molly’s Game is a movie written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and based on the autobiographical book Molly’s Game.
The story is about a woman who, after seeing her dream of becoming an Olympic ski champion fade away, finds herself organizing poker games in Los Angeles for wealthy figures in show business, sports, and U.S. public life.
Her network of players and affiliates opens up like wildfire, making her a real pro in the gambling world until the FBI comes to investigate the activity.
5. Sidney by Paul Thomas Anderson (1996)
Sidney is a film that explores the complexities of human nature, particularly the flawed nature of human desire. It is a character-driven movie that delves into the lives of the main characters, their relationships, and their motivations.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is a masterful work of art that captures the gritty and raw nature of the characters’ lives. The film is driven by the performances of its lead actors, Philip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly, who both deliver stunning performances that are nuanced and layered.
Sidney is a story about redemption, loss, and the power of human connection. It is a film that asks deep questions about what it means to be human, and what we are willing to do to get what we want.
The film is a classic example of Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterful storytelling, and it is no surprise that it has become a cult classic among movie lovers. With its haunting score, stunning cinematography, and incredible performances, Sidney is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
4. The Gambler – Rounders by John Dahl (1998)
Rounders is perhaps one of the movies that, most of all, has become a cult about gambling and that succeeds best in explaining the feeling that accompanies compulsive gamblers: I sat down at the table and felt alive again.
The story is based on Mike’s life (played by Matt Damon), a law student who manages to support himself in his studies thanks to his poker skills. A skill that will undoubtedly prove helpful when he must play to cancel the debt of a friend who asked him for help before turning his back on him.
3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Terry Gilliam (1998)
Presented in 1998 at the Cannes Film Festival, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is Terry Gilliam’s film loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson’s thriller of the same name and starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro.
Raoul Drake (Depp) is a journalist assigned to cover an event in the desert outside Las Vegas. For the occasion, the man is with his lifelong friend Dr. Gonzo (Del Toro), who shares a passion for excess, whether gambling or drugs.
During their stay in Las Vegas, when work turns into an opportunity to indulge in as many vices as possible, the two will also face an extended stop at Bazooka Circus, the city’s most notorious casino, where they will try to make their fortunes under the influence of ether.
2. Rain Man by Barry Levinson (1988)
Rain Man is one of those movies that -cooperating to make film history- needs no introduction. It stars Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, signed by Barry Levinson, and won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Original Screenplay.
Rain Man tells the story of two brothers: the indebted Charlie (Cruise) and Raymond, a man with a form of autism that leads not only to great sensitivity but also to an incredible capacity for calculation. Therefore, Charlie decides to take his older brother to Las Vegas, where he wants to use his talents to win large sums of money to cancel his debts.
However, as the story unfolds, it becomes much more than just a road trip to a casino. Rain Man is a touching exploration of the relationship between two estranged brothers, who must learn to understand and accept each other’s differences.
Dustin Hoffman delivers a masterful performance as Raymond, a man with autism who is often misunderstood and mistreated by society. He brings a vulnerability and honesty to the character that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Tom Cruise, on the other hand, plays the self-centered and arrogant Charlie, who initially sees Raymond as nothing more than a means to an end. But as the journey progresses, Charlie begins to see his brother as a person, and their relationship develops into something much deeper and meaningful.
1. Casino by Martin Scorsese (1995)
Of course, in a top centered on gambling and casinos, Martin Scorsese’s film could not be missing, starring Robert De Niro’s Sam “Ace” Rothstein, who is given the job by the bosses he works for of running a newly opened casino in Las Vegas, the Tangiers.
His work is supervised by his friend Nicky (Joe Pesci), who soon falls into the vortex of ambition and greed, creating quite a few problems. In addition, Sam falls in love with Ginger (Sharon Stone), a drug-addicted prostitute employed by Lester Diamond (James Woods).