15 Best Heist Movies: From The Duke to American Animals

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15 Best Heist Movies: From The Duke to American Animals

Heist movies have always been a beloved genre with a timeless structure. The mastermind emerges with a clever plan and assembles a team to carry it out. We watch eagerly as they attempt the heist, facing unexpected challenges along the way. The best part is that this solid foundation allows filmmakers to play with the story while keeping it on track.

In the 1960s, heist films took a playful turn, charming us with charismatic thieves taking from the wealthy. We couldn’t help but root for these witty and stylish characters, hoping they’d outsmart the law and their targets, making it all exciting and enjoyable.

This enduring appeal comes from the wish fulfillment and the thrill of analyzing what went wrong or how we could plan our perfect heist. Heist movies have a unique way of captivating our imagination and keeping us entertained.


1. Ruben Brandt, Collector (2018)

  • Genre: Thriller/Action
  • Star Cast: Iván Kamarás, Csaba Márton, Gabriella Hámori, Matt Devere, Henry Grant
  • Director: Milorad Krstic
  • Writer: Milorad Krstic
  • Run time: 1h 36m
  • Year of release: 2018
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

This unique animated film is both a heist story and a deep exploration of a man’s unraveling mind. Brandt, a psychotherapist, faces a psychic attack that connects him to artworks by famous artists like Magritte, Warhol, Botticelli, Gauguin, Hopper, and Picasso. To ease his anxiety, he decides to steal these paintings that demand his attention. With the help of his skilled criminal patients, they embark on a global journey to acquire the 13 paintings he desires. However, their success attracts unwanted attention, and soon, they find themselves pursued by the criminal underworld. The movie’s animation style, akin to Into the Spider-Verse, vividly depicts how trapped Brandt feels by his overwhelming visions.


2. Bob the Gambler (1956)

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Star Cast: Isabelle Corey, Daniel Cauchy, Roger Duchesne, Guy Decomble
  • Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Writer: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Run time: 1h 38m
  • Year of release: 1956
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.6/10

Meet Bob Montagne, a charming ex-con who’s been living a clean life in Montmartre for 20 years. But luck runs out when he starts losing in Paris casinos. Desperate to make money, he hatches a plan to steal 800 million francs during the Deauville Grand Prix horse race. As he gathers his team, word spreads, attracting less honorable people. Now, Bob is in a race of his own. This movie combines the style of Rat Pack films with gangster flicks, and it’s a significant step forward in French New Wave cinema.


3. Out of Sight (1998)

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Star Cast: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Writer: Steven Soderbergh
  • Run time: 2h 3m
  • Year of release: 1998
  • OTT Platform: Jio Cinema
  • IMDb rating: 7/10

This fantastic Steven Soderbergh crime thriller marks the emergence of George Clooney as a captivating star after his success in ER. Clooney’s character, Jack Foley, is a charming bank robber who escapes from prison and embarks on a quest to find valuable uncut diamonds he heard about while behind bars. Amidst the heist, he encourages a nervous cashier with witty words. On his trail are Jennifer Lopez as Marshal Karen Sisco and a rival gang also after the diamonds. While Ocean’s 11 would come later, this movie was where it all began for Soderbergh and Clooney.


4. The Duke (2020)

  • Genre: Drama/Comedy
  • Star Cast: Jim Broadbent, Heather Craney, Stephen Rashbrook, James Wilby, Matthew Goode, John Heffernan, Alice Stokoe, Sarah Annett.
  • Director: Roger Michell
  • Writer: Roger Michell
  • Run time: 1h 36m
  • Year of release: 2020
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 6.9/10

Roger Michell’s final film, “The Duke,” tells the true story of a middle-aged Geordie who stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery. His motive wasn’t money or thrill; he protested against pensioners having to pay the BBC license fee. The movie captures the atmosphere of 1960s London perfectly – grubby, coal-blacked, and withered. Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent deliver warm and companionable bickering. It’s a perfect heist film for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.


5. Ant-Man (2015)

  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Star Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Mackie, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson.
  • Director: Peyton Reed
  • Writer: Peyton Reed
  • Run time: 1h 57m
  • Year of release: 2015
  • OTT Platform: Hotstar
  • IMDb rating: 7.3/10

In Marvel’s Phase Two turning into Phase Three, they started exploring different genres. There was a spy thriller vibe with Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. We had some fun with Ant-Man’s heist story. But what could have been amazing was Edgar Wright’s version of Ant-Man. He co-wrote it and left some of his unique touches, like using The Cure’s ‘Disintegration’ in a fight scene. Still, Paul Rudd and the gang’s journey into the quantum realm is undeniably charming.


6. Victoria (2015)

  • Genre: Crime/Thriller
  • Star Cast: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit, Max Mauff, André Hennicke, Eike Frederik Schulz, Hans-Ulrich Laux.
  • Director: Sebastian Schipper
  • Writer: Sebastian Schipper
  • Run time: 2h 20m
  • Year of release: 2015
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 7.6/10

Victoria, a Spaniard in Berlin, has a wild night at a club. Later, she meets four young men and smokes with them. These guys are planning a bank heist. Victoria joins them, and things go downhill. The film is shot in a single take, which is rare and impressive. The director, Sebastian Schipper, only had three chances to get it right. The first two attempts were not good enough, but he motivated the cast with a speech before the last take, and it worked. The movie, “Victoria,” is a gripping and twisting tale of a night gone wrong.


7. Bottle Rocket (1996)

  • Genre: Comedy/Crime
  • Star Cast: Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Ned Dowd, Shea Fowler, Haley Miller, Robert Musgrave, Andrew Wilson, Brian Tenenbaum.
  • Director: Wes Anderson
  • Writer: Wes Anderson
  • Run time: 1h 31m
  • Year of release: 1996
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 6.9/10

Wes Anderson’s first feature-length movie is not just one heist story, but a collection of heist stories in one film. Dignan, played by Owen Wilson in his debut role, helps his friend Anthony (played by his real-life brother Luke) escape from a psychiatric unit. Together, they embark on a series of increasingly elaborate heists, starting with robbing Anthony’s own family’s house. This movie is full of energy and originality, and it introduced the world to a fresh and unique filmmaker. Even Martin Scorsese loved it and called Bottle Rocket one of his favorite films from the 1990s. He praised Anderson’s ability to beautifully capture the simple joys and interactions between people.


8. Le Cercle Rouge (1970)

  • Genre: Crime/Crime
  • Star Cast: Alain Delon, Bourvil, Gian Maria Volontè, Yves Montand, Paul Crauchet
  • Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Writer: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Run time: 2h 20m
  • Year of release: 1970
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.9/10

This Parisian thriller has everything we love. It’s filled with a stylish heist scene that’s expertly put together. The film showcases the breathtaking beauty of the French capital. Alain Delon looks incredibly cool smoking cigarettes and wearing a trench coat. When Corey is released from prison early for good behavior, he receives a tip about the perfect jewelry shop to rob. What should he do? The final heist scene lasts a thrilling 30 minutes, with tension building slowly and beautifully.


9. American Animals (2018)

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Star Cast: Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk, Chas Allen, Betty Jean Gooch, Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Barry Keoghan.
  • Director: Bart Layton
  • Writer: Bart Layton
  • Run time: 2 hours
  • Year of release: 2018
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 7/10

This is the true story of four Kentucky college students who pulled off a ridiculous heist by stealing valuable library books from their own school. Director Bart Layton, known for the 2012 documentary The Imposter, transforms their silly adventure into a thrilling drama. The film features both real-life characters and actors like Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan, making it a must-watch escapade.


10. The Town (2010)

  • Genre: Crime/Thriller
  • Star Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively
  • Director: Ben Affleck
  • Writer: Ben Affleck
  • Run time: 2h 4m
  • Year of release: 2010
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 7.5/10

Ben Affleck’s second film as a director is probably his best. It reveals the darker side of Boston’s Charlestown through a story about a gang that wears nun masks to rob banks. They plan a big heist at Fenway Park. But things get complicated when Affleck’s character develops feelings for the bank manager they capture during a job. He’s torn between leaving the town he’s stuck in and staying with his childhood friends who won’t easily let him go.


11. Jackie Brown (1997)

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Star Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton
  • Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Writer: Elmore Leonard
  • Run time: 2h 34m
  • Year of release: 1997
  • OTT Platform: Apple TV
  • IMDb rating: 7.5/10

In the 90s, Quentin Tarantino adapted a classic film from another writer’s work, and it stands strong among his other movies. The film is called “Jackie Brown” and stars Pam Grier. It pays tribute to 70s Blaxploitation films like “Foxy Brown,” where Grier also had a role. The story follows Jackie Brown, an air hostess, who gets caught smuggling gun money on a flight. She faces a tough choice: either stay silent and go to jail or help the police by exposing her arms dealer boss.


12. Drive (2011)

  • Genre: Action/Crime
  • Star Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Kaden Leos.
  • Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Run time: 1h 40m
  • Year of release: 2011
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.8/10

“Drive” became a modern classic with Ryan Gosling’s killer jacket and an amazing soundtrack. The movie tells the story of a getaway driver and stuntman played by Gosling. He falls for a criminal’s wife, portrayed excellently by Carey Mulligan, which makes him question his criminal connections. The violence in the film is intense, especially in a tough lift scene. However, there are also touching moments that stay with you. Overall, “Drive” had everyone talking, becoming a cultural moment.


13. Layer Cake (2004)

  • Genre: Drama/Crime
  • Star Cast: Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, Jamie Foreman, Sally Hawkins, Burn Gorman, Brinley Green, George Harris, Tamer Hassan.
  • Director: Matthew Vaughn
  • Writer: Matthew Vaughn
  • Run time: 1h 45m
  • Year of release: 2004
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 7.3/10

Matthew Vaughn’s film about England’s criminal world made Daniel Craig famous as he impressed everyone with his performance and secured the role of 007. The movie has a nostalgic feel of the extravagant 2000s. Craig plays a drug dealer who wants to leave the business but is given two difficult tasks by his unhappy boss. And who can forget Sienna Miller’s unforgettable dance scene in the nightclub! It’s one of the best moments in cinema history.


14. Sexy Beast (2000)

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Star Cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White, Álvaro Monje, James Fox.
  • Director: Jonathan Glazer
  • Writer: Jonathan Glazer
  • Run time: 1h 29m
  • Year of release: 2000
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 7.3/10

Sexy Beast is a classic British movie where a mobster hunts down a former worker to force him out of retirement. Ray Winstone shines as Gal, the relaxed ex-criminal who just wants to enjoy his life by the pool, smoking cigarettes. But his crazy boss pushes him to the breaking point in a moment of anger. The movie feels like a play in two parts: first, we see the peaceful Spanish paradise invaded, and then we witness the heist that threatens Gal’s life. One standout element is Ben Kingsley’s most famous role. The film captures the essence of the 2000s, from the tasty calamari starters to the villa’s decor and the trendy short-sleeved shirts.


15. Heat (1995)

  • Genre: Crime/Action
  • Star Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd.
  • Director: Michael Mann
  • Writer: Michael Mann
  • Run time: 2h 50m
  • Year of release: 1995
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 8.3/10

Though Heat didn’t receive an Oscar, it has become a timeless crime thriller in the 25 years since its release. Starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, the movie follows a detective’s pursuit of a seasoned criminal planning his final heist. To prepare for the film, director Michael Mann spent nine months shadowing an LAPD officer on weekends, experiencing real crime scenes across the city. The result is an intense cat-and-mouse game, showcasing every hidden corner of Los Angeles.

Also read:15 Must-Watch Joaquin Phoenix Movies, Ranked Best to Worst

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