Top 20 Vegas Movies

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to take a look at our favorite Vegas-related flicks.

Did your favorite make the cut?

Find out below!

20. Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man
19. Knocked Up
18, Leaving Las Vegas
17. Showgirls
16. The Cooler
15. Bugsy
14. Go
13. Very Bad Things
12. Midnight Run
11. 3000 Miles To Graceland
10. Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery
9. 21
8. Honeymoon In Vegas
7. Con Air
6. Rain Man

5. The Godfather Part II

The Godfather Part II is that rarity of film: a sequel that doesn't suck. In fact, it blends so seamlessly with the first film it just feels like a natural extension of the first film. You see the transformation of Michael Corleone from reluctant second son into a powerful national force to be reckoned with in his own right. It's like the transformation of Shakespeare's Prince Hal into the noble King Henry V, except instead of becoming the heroic king, he becomes the dark king of a violent underworld.

The Godfather Part II shows Michael's expansion out of New York and into the national scene and that power play happens in Vegas, where Michael plans to invest in casinos. He starts with the very best of intentions: to build a family empire that for once is legitimate. He quickly learns that beneath the glitz and glamour of Sin City is a ruthless city being built out of force and money and corruption, basically the mafia empire of New York but dressed up with sequins and showgirls.

It's maybe not the obvious pick when thinking of Vegas films, but Vegas shapes it all, and limns the story in blood and pain.--Archphoenix

4. Swingers

Vegas, baby! Vegas!

I can't even refer to that town without saying those immortal words! For my money, no movie in cinema encapsulates the promise of renewal through hedonism that Las Vegas offers better than Swingers. Maybe it's because Vaughn and Favreau basically lived out my own experiences in that sparking city in the desert, from the moment they pulled into town ("They're giving daddy the Rain Man suite!") to the their attempts to pick up Dorothy at the MGM Grand ("The whole Judy Garland thing kinda turned me on. Does that make me some kind of fag?" "No baby, you're money!"). Any guy who made a pilgrimage to Vegas in their twenties had a night like that, trying to pull a Fredo. If they tell you otherwise, they're dirty stinkin' liars.

But Swingers doesn't just paint Vegas as a glittering world of million-dollar suites and high-rollers in bolo-ties. Nor does end trump up some over-the-top scenario with a dead hooker in the trunk or a tiger in your bathroom. Instead they give us something funny, poignant, and relatable. Our heroes don't spend the morning trying to find money to pay off gangsters, but instead are in a trailer futily trying to score. There's a moment when Favreau admits his heartbreak over his ex-girlfriend and is consoled by the "beautiful babies" that has Vaughn sitting in the background, clearly pained at the opportunity slipping away but hanging back as the true friend taking one for his buddy virtually makes the movie for me. It's what encapsulates everything Las Vegas really stands for in one moment: a complex melange of hope, resignation, and camaraderie, where people go to escape from--and realize who--they are.

Baby, we're gonna be up five hundy by midnight! Vegas, baby! Vegas!--CroutonBoy

3. Casino

Martin Scorsese. Robert De Niro. Joe Pesci.--Chag

OK. Maybe I should go into a little more detail than that, but with those heavyweights, why bother?

This movie is about the "glory days" of Vegas where the mob ruled the town. De Niro is Ace, who the mob puts in control of the Tangiers casino. Pesci is Nicky, De Niro's right hand man, who skims off the casino and takes the money back to the mob bosses. Eventually, the duo and the entire operation is brought down by Sharon Stone's Ginger, whom Ace marries, Nicky loves, but who can't break ties with her pimp, Lester.

This is not the Vegas you want to visit for a boys' weekend. But damn, it makes for one hell of a movie.--Chag

2. The Hangover

Nobody loves Vegas as much as I do. It's a town that takes all of the things that I love—gambling, food, sex—mixes them up and washes them down with a giant gulp of booze. But like most of the great things in life, Vegas is to be taken in small doses. The excitement and endorphin rush of the beginning of a trip to Sin City dissipates after 48 hours as the grime settles under your fingernails and the blinking and beeping of the casinos suddenly starts to feel like water torture. No movie better sums up the highs and lows of Las Vegas than The Hangover.

The Hangover is all slick style and cool attitude, something not often seen in a comedy. It's a simple premise: four guys head out into the desert for a bachelor party. They drink, they black out, and wake up to a heap of trouble and a missing groom. The scene where the guys wake up and peel themselves off of the floor to discover the chaos of their ruined suite is perhaps one of the most accurate depictions of the morning after a great night in Vegas. It's immediately familiar, yet so wildly over the top. The brilliance of The Hangover is that it doesn't show us the events of the night. We get to have fun piecing together the mystery along with the cast. Just how did a tiger get into their bathroom? Whose baby is that? Why is one of them missing a tooth? The answers are surprising and hilarious all the way through the end credits. There have been a lot of movies about Vegas, but The Hangover wins the prize for not only being the funniest, but peeling back the layers of a city that has many of them and basing a whole story around the Vegas philosophy: just because you're down doesn't mean you're out.--Daddy Geek Boy

1. Ocean's Eleven

I love a good heist movie. Who doesn't? And there are a ton of them that rank among my favorite movies. Maybe not cinematic masterpieces that wow the film world, mind you, but movies that I could grab off the shelf and watch pretty much any day of the week and love them just as much the 15th time as I did the first.

Top among those movies is the 2001 George Clooney (et al) remake of Ocean's Eleven. It's hard to say exactly what it is about the movie that makes it so awesome to me. Vegas, of course, is part of it. I love Las Vegas. It's one of the weirdest places on the face of the planet. It's a city in the middle of a vast wasteland that simply shouldn't exist, much less thrive as one of the world's top tourist destinations, but there it is. I've been out there pretty much every other year since 1998. I love the electric yet dark vibe of the place. But it's more than a great Vegas movie.

Star power probably has something to do with it, too. Not because I'm a gung-ho fan of any of the stars of the film. It's more that, as a writer and former film student, I'm always fascinated when a film with a huge ensemble cast really clicks chemistry-wise and, by way of clever writing, manages to allow each and every member of the cast to have moments in which to shine. That it could be done with so many actors who normally don't share top-billing is nothing short of miraculous. But it's more than a great star vehicle.

Then there's the heist plot, which I've already said I'm a fan of. The bigger, the better. And what's bigger than ripping off three casinos at once? But it's more than a great heist movie (although it is most certainly one of the best of that genre).

But Ocean's Eleven is more than a sum of its parts. Everything meshes into a movie that manages to be fun from start to finish, with flow and pacing that is near perfection. Every time I watch it, I'm always surprised at how fast it's over. It's fun. It's funny. It's not too terribly unbelievable. In other words, it's everything Ocean's Twelve was not and everything Ocean's Thirteen almost was.

As a side note, after about the fifth time I watched Ocean's Eleven, I was eager to watch the original. I figured it could, potentially, be even better. More Vegas-y, if you will. I mean, the Rat Pack? Come on! What's more Vegas than that? But, sadly... and I might lose my cred with the classic movie buffs for saying this... Ocean's Eleven is the PRIME case where the re-imagined version far exceeds the quality of the original. I'm sorry, but—and I give all due respect to the spirits of Frank, Sammy, and Dean when I say this—the original Ocean's Eleven is a dreary, boring, stinker of a movie. I could go on about it at length but that's a discussion for another day.

So, yeah. Ocean's Eleven 2001. Definitely my pick for best Vegas flick.--Dave


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