We’ve all planned our own heists in our heads once or twice in our lives. Getting away with the perfect crime is such an appealing prospect and filmmakers seem to think the same way.
So with the new Ocean’s movie installment in theaters, let’s take a trip down movie history with this list of the 10 best heist movies of all time. Can you guess what rank Ocean’s 11 falls in?
Top 10 Best Heist Movies of All Time
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Best heist movie Reservoir Dogs (1992) introduced the world to Quentin Tarantino’s flair for violence and crime.
Here we follow the story of six criminals, each with a color alternative name, attempting to pull off a heist. But instead of showing us every detail of their crime, we are treated with an almost philosophical study of the immediate consequences of their crime– a warning against get-rich-quick schemes you might be thinking of trying.
Three Kings (1999)
Three Kings (1999) tells the story of three American soldiers in the aftermath of the First Gulf War planning to steal some gold that Saddam Hussein also stole from Kuwait. But what was to be a heist turn into something else as they witness American troops slaughtering Iraqis on the orders of President Bush. Confronted with such inhumanity, the three began to question their own motives and begin rethinking what they are about to do.
Despite its highly political subject matter, the film was a critical success with some critics describing the film as ‘a damning yet idealistic satire about the motives behind U.S. foreign policy’. Three Kings is one of the 90’s best heist films.
The Sting (1973)
Set in the mid-1930s, The Sting (1973) tells a complicated plot where two grifters plan to scam a mob boss. Doesn’t that sound exciting?
Director George Roy Hill teams up again with Paul Newman and Robert Redford in this award-winning film based on the real-life scams pulled off by Fred and Charley Gondorff, a pair of brothers and con artists.
Jackie Brown (1997)
Jackie Brown (1997) is often cited as one of Quentin Tarantino’s more mature but less successful works.
Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, the film tells the story of the titular Jackie Brown, a flight attendant who smuggles money on the side to make ends meet. The film is Tarantino’s only work to have been based on another one. It’s a homage to the blaxploitation films of the early 1970s leading him to cast Pam Grier, who starred in famous blaxploitation films, in the main role. Jackie Brown is one of the best heist movies of all time.
Out of Sight (1998)
Perhaps Steven Soderbergh’s best heist movie, Out of Sight (1998) is about an ex-con’s failed attempt to successfully rob a bank which lands him in a Floridian prison. It stars George Clooney as the ex-con and Jennifer Lopez as the federal marshal who attempts to foil his plans of prison break.
This fantastic film ranked relatively low on our best heist movies list since it’s not entirely focussed on a heist. But the film is still a must-watch especially with Clooney’s excellent performance and Soderbergh’s superb adaptation of novelist’s Elmore Leonard’s characters.
Inception (2010) best heist movie ever made, is notorious for being complicated and difficult to keep up with what with its complex premise of a thief, played by Leonardo Dicaprio, who can enter other people’s dreams to steal not money but ideas.
The film introduces the idea of ‘psychic espionage’ wherein a person gleans information by projecting themselves onto another person’s psyche having access to that person’s innermost thoughts.
Inception (2010) was a big hit in the awards season on the year of its premiere with Christopher Nolan’s unique screenplay getting nominated for an Oscar. Inception is one of the year’s best heist films.
Ocean’s 11 (2001)
The film that started the Ocean’s heist film franchise, Ocean’s 11 (2001) introduces us to the rag-tag team of con artists determined to pull off ‘the heist to end all heists’.
A remake of a 1960s film of the same name, George Clooney steps into the role originally played by Frank Sinatra as the titular Danny Ocean. But this is where the similarities between the two end. Ocean’s 11 is one of the best heist movies ever.
The film was a box office success leading to two more films (Ocean’s 12 in 2004 and Ocean’s 13 in 2007) and a spin-off with an all-female cast, Ocean’s 8 (2018).
Rififi (1955) is a French crime film which follows a heist hatched by four criminals to pull off an almost impossible burglary of a famous jewelry shop. The film is most notable for its 30-minute long heist scene which depicts the crime in extreme detail and without music. Interestingly, the scene is cited to be the inspiration for some real-life heists criminals tried to pull off after watching the film.
The film is considered to be one of the best film noirs that the French cinema ever produced. It also earned blacklisted director Jules Dassin the best director award in the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Based on the real-life shenanigans of lovers and partners in crime Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the film is considered to be a landmark film in Hollywood ushering in a new era in the industry due to its breaking of taboos and its popularity among the younger audiences.
Its success prompted on a new breed of films which features sex and violence more liberally. It also holds the honor of being among the first one hundred films that were chosen for preservation by the US Library of Congress.
The Killing (1956)
Master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick tries his hand at the film noir genre with The Killing (1956).
The film’s plot follows a gang of petty criminals, led by a veteran criminal on his final heist, planning to pull off a racetrack robbery. All is well until disaster falls on the after their plan goes wrong.
It is said to be Kubrick’s first great film and featured his signature mechanistic style.
Find a new heist movie to add to our best heist movies list. Tell us in the comments below.