Introducing the Great Heist Movie Bracket of 2020
I know, I know. Another bracket so soon after the Great Rom-Com Bracket of 2019? Well, not quite. Zoë Ryan and I had such fun making the rom-com bracket, and got such widespread participation, that we started thinking about next year’s bracket pretty quickly. We settled on Heist Movies, another distinct genre with strict parameters and a rich history in the past 40 years of moviemaking.
But we wanted to address the chief complaint we got from fans of the Rom-Com Bracket: that people didn’t have a chance to see all of the movies in the field. To fix this, we are releasing the field for the Heist Movie Bracket right now, even though we won’t be playing out the bracket until March 2020. This will give you a chance to catch up on the movies in the bracket, or recommend movies to us if there’s anything glaring that we left out. I’ll be writing reviews of some of these movies until March, and calling out when they are available to watch on streaming services.
Before I introduce the field of 32 films, let’s lay out the rules for what movies we are, and are not, including.
The main part of the movie’s plot has to be about a character or characters stealing something of value, and this act of theft has to be illegal. This excludes a movie like Inception, which is inexplicably on every heist movie list despite the fact that the characters are not stealing anything. (Quick aside: I can’t believe how adamant people are that Inception is a heist movie. When Saito (Ken Watanabe) first describes the process of Inception, he says, “If you can steal an idea from someone’s mind, why can’t you plant one there instead?” He literally says it is the exact opposite of stealing something. Ugh. Anyway.)
The thieves have to plan to steal that something.
There can be multiple robberies, but there has to be one heist that everything is building toward—the “One Big Job” trope. This excludes movies like Bonnie and Clyde, for example, where the characters go around robbing a string of banks.
We are only looking at heist movies that came out after 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon. This is helpful because a) a lot of you likely haven’t seen many pre-1975 heist movies, b) 50s era heist movies are a unique genre unto themselves, and c) Dog Day Afternoon is a turning point for the genre, which I’ll get into later with an anniversary review of that Al Pacino classic.