40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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Casino (1995)

Some say it might be blasphemous to include this and not Scorsese’s other mobster movie of the ‘90s, Goodfellas. But Casino is Scorsese at his operatic best, taking his New York mobsters and transplanting them to the sunny climes of Las Vegas with an adaptation of the novel written by Nicholas Pileggi.

Casino follows “Ace” Rothstein (Robert DeNiro) as he and his gangster friends set out to Vegas and own it for themselves. In the film’s nearly three-hour runtime, we see the evolution of Las Vegas from a barren desert landscape to a massive vacation destination where mobsters were making money hand over fist before losing it all when the city started catering to families. This may be a gangster film, but it’s also a fantastic story about the shaping of a city’s identity and how locale changes people, and vice versa.

Along the way Scorsese’s colorful characters are on full-display, from DeNiro to Joe Pesci’s volatile Nicky Santoro. But the scene stealer is Sharon Stone as Ace’s wife, Ginger. Not only is she flawless throughout, but she’s a scheming femme fatale in the ‘40s tradition (with the mouth of a truck driver).

Where to Watch It: You can stream it now via Netflix or rent it on Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, or Apple.