Top Heist Movies, Part 1

The Usual Suspects (1995) / Director: Bryan Singer / Stars: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin

Five crooks in an apparently random police lineup decide to join forces at the behest of a shadowy villain named Kayser Söze. One criminal survives the resulting bloodbath to tell the convoluted tale to a smug police detective. A career-making role for Kevin Spacey, who nabbed the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor

The Sting (1973) / Director: George Roy Hill / Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning

A young con man (Redford) in 1930s Chicago partners with a veteran (Newman) to settle a score with a murderous villain (Robert Shaw). One of the great period pieces of cinema, with great sets, costumes, and cast. Multiple Academy Awards, including for best picture.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) / Director: Steven Soderbergh / Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon

As soon as he gets out of jail, master thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney) gets to work assembling a crack team to knock off a casino run by a slick CEO (Andy Garcia) who is dating Danny’s ex-wife. Clever, exciting, and impossibly stylish, this remake is a great improvement upon the 1960s original — and a nearly perfect heist flick that its own sequels could not match.

Ronin (1998) / Director: John Frankenheimer / Stars: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård

A “ronin” is a former samurai knight who no longer has a master and now must work freelance, without purpose or honor. Thus does former U.S. operative working for hire (Robert De Niro) track a mysterious package coveted by Irish terrorists and Russian operatives. A decade and a half after its release, the spectacular car chases and double-crosses in this underrated film have few equals.

The Score (2001) / Director: Frank Oz / Stars: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Marlon Brando, Angela Bassett

Another of the one-last-job-before-retirement heist films, this example is commonly underrated. A cautious, meticulous master thief (De Niro) wants out of the game but is convinced by his troubled, flamboyant fence (Brando) to team up with a cocky newcomer (Norton) on a promising heist. Things don’t go as planned, naturally, but savvy seen-it-all veterans have their ways of coming out on top.