Award-winning flicks with tricks: Our favorite moments of magic in movies

February 21st, 2011 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

It’s Oscar time. This Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will pass out their latest round of golden statues to the most deserving in the movie business. The Oscars celebrate the magic in movies, but sadly, there’s no movies about magic in this year’s list of nominees (except for “The Illusionist” in the animated feature category).

So we have some “Golden Deckies” of our own we’d like to give out. Movies about magic in the style of wizards and fantasy don’t cut the mustard for this list — we looked at instances featuring magicians in the real-world sense of the word. With that in mind, the awards go to:

Best use of card cheating moves: “The Sting”

Yes, it’s from 1973, but it remains one of the sharpest movies to feature card sharps. The legendary John Scarne subbed for Paul Newman’s character when scenes like these were featured. The tense card work involved in the portrayal of a confidence man was a strong part of a movie filled with great moments — enough to win seven Oscars. Plus, those Tally-Hos look pretty good.

Best card trick done by a hot actress: Rachel Weisz, “The Brothers Bloom”

Far from her bumbling, klutzy mannerisms of the character she played in “The Mummy,” Rachel Weisz plays a socially isolated and maladroit heiress named Penelope Stamp. She tells a con man how she ended up never leaving home while pulling off an incredible card trick, which includes one of our favorite lines: “The trick to not feeling cheated is to learn how to cheat.” As if that wasn’t enough, Ricky Jay plays the narrator.

Best mix of cards and cartridges of ammo: “Smokin’ Aces”

Call this one a sentimental favorite. “Smokin’ Aces” is not a very good movie. But it features two “Lost” alums (Matthew Fox and Nestor Carbonell), Vegas and some great card magic performed by both Jeremy Piven and the Bucks. The straight to DVD prequel, “Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball,” also featured some pretty good sleight of hand with Tom Berenger.

Best use of bizarre magic: “Wizard of Gore”

There’s two versions of thie movie; we’re talking about the completely gory 2007 remake featuring walking creepshow Crispin Glover. The movie doesn’t feature much in the way of magic that isn’t aided with movie special effects. But the haunting message of Montag moves and inspires us, once it stops freaking us out: “Did you feel something?”

Best movie about magicians: “The Prestige”

There’s not a lot of debate about one of the best movies about magicians ever created. First, it was directed by Christopher Nolan, whose “Inception” is up for a Best Picture award. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale go all out in their roles and portray the rivarly between two turn-of-the-century magicians with a respect for the art. And it features an actor who plays magicians well: Sir Michael Caine. If that’s not enough, there’s another Ricky Jay appearance.


  1. Your forgetting The Shade (2003). Easily one of my all time favorites even if it was a little over indulgent.

  2. Rich Ferguson on:

    Thanks Christian… I was just going to post the same thing! Shade has some very creative guys behind the scenes!

  3. I’m glad you listed Brothers Bloom in this post…b/c I really love that line when Weisz says, “The trick to not feeling cheated is to learn how to cheat.” Feel like that can apply to a lot of different things in life haha anyways thanks for a great a post..

    Tom Henry

  4. Yeah, Shade is defintiely the best use of card cheating in a movie. Jason England’s card work along with just the opening and ending credits create a true tribute to the art of card cheating that is worthy of all previous notable performances.. the movie was great and it had a glimpse of the magic castle in there along with some easter egg references that only a magician will catch. The professor dai vernon is in there and who doesn’t appreciate a Stallone film!? Definitely my nomination!

  5. Well the illusionist would be a pretty artistic one

  6. Collin Stover on:

    You missed The Illusionist for the best magician love story.

  7. George Waldman on:

    Don’t forget the various magic tricks performed by Julia Roberts in “I Love Trouble”. Or Bridget Fonda in “Rough Magic”.

  8. Ristanto Arjun on:

    here mine, I got two:
    (1) Best Secret Agent Figure Do the Sleight of Hands. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) – Mission Impossible 1 (1996). I’d remembered that when Ethan vanish and apear the mini dvd that contain secret data. He fool the big boss enemy by said that dvd which he hold was a fake one (truely that he hold the real one). Finally Ethan got the real dvd :)

    (2) Best Animation/Cartoon Contain the Card Magic and Flourishing. Marge Simpsons – The Simpsons (season 22). When grandpa try to show his memorize collection (one of it was a deck of card). The deck is dropped down, then Marge Simpsons saw and take the deck. Awesome, she showoff by do flourishing by spring, revolution cut, even fanning perfectly,.. even she’s routine better than real flourisher ..LOL. and than She said “This is too slippery grandpa”. (
    Thats so entertaining. All about my respect to magic and flourishing.
    Hope you glad guys :)

  9. Magic awards we missed: Facebook fans make their nominations | Online Magic News – Ellusionist Street Magic Blog on:

    […] $('#dd_ajax_float').show() }else{ $('#dd_ajax_float').hide() } }); });When we released our list of award-winning magic movies, we knew we left several good contenders out, and you guys filled in the blanks awesomely. So well […]

  10. anthony bueno on:

    what about that part in illusionist where he did the coin magic for the kids

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