Three of the best New York-based gambling movies

Three of the best New York-based gambling movies

Game movies have held their place in the movie world for as long as they’ve existed, with some of the most iconic filmed in New York.

The Empire State has the fourth largest population in the United States and is home to some of the most famous sports teams including the NBA’s Knicks, NHL’s Rangers, NFL’s Giants, Jets and Bills, and the MLB Yankees and Mets.

Earlier this year, New York sports betting has made its debut on the mobile scene. Some of the most popular online sportsbooks offer odds on the teams mentioned above, and many more, directly in New York. It has also been reported that the state has seen more than $5 billion invested in mobile sports betting since the practice was made legal in January.

We could see more gambling movies made in New York given how sports betting has continued to grow there, but here are three of the best movies that have happened so far.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems is the most recent, having aired on Netflix in 2019. The film, starring Hollywood megastar Adam Sandler, was directed by brothers Benny and Josh Safdie.

Sandler plays the title character, Howard Ratner, with Idina Menzel, Julia Fox and Lakeith Stanfield also included in the cast. Former NBA star forward Kevin Garnet also has a role in Uncut Gems, playing himself. His career with the Boston Celtics is a central plot point.

Sandler’s character, Ratner, owns a jewelry store in New York but has a gambling addiction that destroys his personal life. He also throws himself into the deep end with criminal loan sharks.

The New York-based film received rave reviews and earned Fox a nomination for the Breakthrough Actor Award at the Gotham Awards in 2019. Taylor Russell, however, won the accolade for his role in Waves.

“The Safdies use New York in a way that hasn’t been seen since ’70s movies,” said film critic Sheila O’Malley. wrote about representing New York. “The city has been so cleansed, gentrified and homogenized that it is easy to forget that there is so much going on at street level, so much chaos, the marginalized and the lost seeking a foothold, the crooks and the hustlers slipping through the cracks, working their angles.The Safdies’ “Heaven Knows What” was documentary-like in its approach, but their follow-up “Good Time” was a racing thriller, its action extending in the five boroughs.

Sure, Uncut Gems has a story to tell, but it’s also a lesson in the dangers of gambling addiction. If anything, you should learn to be responsible with your bets.

Curves (1998)

Matt Damon had a pretty good year in 1998, with two of his best films released then. The Oscar-winning actor saw the launch of Saving Private Ryan and Rounders that year. The former was the bigger film of the two and is considered one of the best films of all time – Rounders wasn’t as well-regarded but still garnered very good reviews.

The film also starred Edward Norton and was one of his breakthroughs. John Turturro, John Malkovich and Famke Janseen are also part of the cast.

Damon’s Mike McDermott is best friends with Norton’s Lester Murphy in the New York-based game which sees McDermott grappling with the aftermath of losing tens of thousands in poker. He quits the game instantly, but Murphy gives them trouble with his own bad gambling habits, which leaves McDermott reeling as he tries to get his life back on track.

The Gambler (1974)

The Gambler, released in 1974, stars James Caan (popular for his role in The Godfather), Paul Sorvino (popular for his role in Goodfellas), Paper Lion’s Lauren Hutton and Broadway legend Morris Carvovsky.

The film was directed by Karel Reisz. Robert Chartodd and Irwin Winkler were the producers.

Much like Uncut Gems, The Gambler focuses on gambling addiction. Axel Freed, played by Caan, is a college professor with said problem who struggles to balance his home and work life. He gets himself into serious trouble by borrowing money from the mafia.

Caan would earn a nomination for Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama at the 32nd Golden Globe Awards, but it was won by Jack Nicholson, who picked up the award due to his role in Chinatown.

The player has since been remade, with Mark Whalberg, John Goodman, Brie Larson and Michael K. Williams featured in a 2014 iteration.


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