A Winning Hand: Top Award-Winning Films in the Casino Game Image

A Winning Hand: Top Award-Winning Films in the Casino Game

By Film Threat Staff | February 13, 2024

Sin City on the Silver Screen has been a sheer delight for cinema fans over the last five decades. Of course, not every blockbuster hit from the casino genre is based in Las Vegas. Still, it’s naturally been an excellent location for several top-tier movie directors who’ve delighted gambling connoisseurs with their storylines.

Even if you’ve never been to a casino before, you’re sure to find a movie on our list that suits your taste, including old favourites and the latest Hollywood hits.

Here is a list of the top casino movies to tick off the must-see bucket list; so gather your popcorn, turn the lights down, and get ready to hit the jackpot on entertainment with our top award-winning films in the casino game.

Molly’s Game (2017)

IMDB Rating: 7.4/10

Lead Actor: Jessica Chastain

Famous screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s first feature film as a director was Molly’s Game. Sorkin is most recognised for his work on Moneyball, A Few Good Men, and The West Wing. This riveting 2017 film, adapted from her memoirs, tells the real-life tale of Molly Bloom’s clandestine poker club for the high rollers.

The leading lady’s gender in the traditionally male-dominated gambling industry is what sets this film apart from the others on the list. Still, Jessica Chastain gives a performance that rivals the best of them. The supporting act is also well done by Idris Elba, and the cameos of Chris O’Dowd and Joe Keery (Stranger Things) are funny and refreshing.

Awards: 8 wins & 51 nominations

The Card Counter (2021)

IMDB Rating: 6.2/10

Lead Actor: Oscar Isaac

“The Card Counter,” starring Oscar Isaac, examines the theme of human atonement within the context of poker tables. In the role, Isaac plays a gambler whose spectral past and present are always in conflict with one another. In his new life, he becomes entangled in the world of casinos and the act of counting cards as he tries to stop a young guy from getting even with an adversary they share.

Because the gaming industry can be both a sanctuary and a battleground for inner demons, this film is among the best when touching on these subjects. A tale of remorse, repentance, and the pursuit of redemption, it is more than just a gambling film.

Awards: 3 wins & 22 Nominations, including

Rounders (1998)

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10

Lead Actor: Matt Damon

“Rounders” transports viewers to the seedier side of the poker scene, where the thrill of the bluff and the temptation of winning are king. The film stars Matt Damon as a skilled poker player who, after trying to change his life, goes back to the game to assist a buddy in paying off his debts.

In addition to showcasing the complex strategies of poker, this flick delves into the depths of the human mind. Peril, fixation, camaraderie, and devotion are the themes of this gripping narrative. Joel “Bagels” Rosenberg, an underground poker player, was also an inspiration for Turturro’s persona!

Awards: 1 win & 2 nominations

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10

Lead Actor: Steve McQueen

The late, great Steve McQueen… Need I say more?

In The Cincinnati Kid, we follow a youthful poker prodigy and an icy veteran pro as they play a marathon game of high-stakes poker. As the two players probe one other, seeking openings and any edge, however minor, Steve McQueen plays the calm, detached hot shot. At the same time, Edward G. Robinson portrays his counterpart, Lancey Howard, who exhibits nerves of steel, razor-sharp intuition, and a veteran’s serenity.

With strong backing from a group of seasoned performers, both performances are top-notch. While the female actors in the opening scene are a little too stunning to be believed, and the poker hands in The Cincinnati Kid are statistically almost impossible to appear in the same game, the film’s unusual and unexpected ending helps to establish it as a classic poker film.

Awards: 1 win & 2 nominations

Casino (1995)

IMDB Rating: 8.2/10

Lead Actor: Robert De Niro

Unmatched among cinematic masterpieces, Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” delves into the alluring and ruthless gambling business. Superb acting by Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone propels this story of avarice, manipulation, betrayal, and power.

The film depicts the ascent and collapse of a casino empire in the middle of Las Vegas, exposing the less glamorous sides of the industry. One of the greatest films ever made on casinos, it takes viewers on a roller coaster ride through the glitz and glamour as well as the dark underbelly of the gangster world, with a huge dose of nostalgia for 80s and 90s babies that is a far world away from the modern top phone UK casinos apps available in the contemporary world.

Awards: 4 wins & 11 nominations

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

IMDB Rating: 7.7/10

Lead Actor(s): George Clooney, Brad Pitt, & Matt Damon

Without “Ocean’s Eleven,” any discussion of gambling and casino heist films would be lacking. In this iconic crime film of the contemporary era, George Clooney stars as Danny Ocean, and he is joined by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Andy Garcia in a daring heist of three casinos in Las Vegas.

It is not the glitter and glamour of the casino floors but the meticulous preparation that goes into a successful robbery where the film excels.

Awards: 4 wins & 20 nominations

21 (2009)

IMDB Rating: 6.6/10

Lead Actor: Jim Sturgess

Adapted on a factual narrative and one of the MGM casino films, “21” depicts the exhilarating tale of a cohort of MIT students who acquire mastery in blackjack card counting and later amass millions of dollars in Las Vegas. Under the guidance of an unconventional mathematics professor, the team adeptly manoeuvres through the intense atmosphere of blackjack, confronting the lavish way of life, the thrill of substantial wealth, and the vigilant surveillance of casino security.

The film offers a thrilling exploration of the contrasting experiences of leading a dual existence: one as diligent university students and the other as extravagant risk-takers.

Awards: 1 win & 5 nominations

Disclaimer: Internet Movie Database ratings above 6.1/10 are incredibly difficult to come by.

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