The Ocean’s Eleven movies, heretofore referred to as the Ocean’s franchise, is one of the coolest and most consistent film franchises ever made. Based on a film from the 1960s starring five members of The Rat Pack, Ocean’s Eleven was released in 2001 and stars some of the biggest names in Hollywood. It’s an excellent film that served as the start of a trilogy and ultimately an all-female spin-off in 2018.
All of the films did well at the box office; to date, the franchise has made almost 1.5 billion dollars in addition to doing fairly well critically. Not including the original film from the 1960s, here is our ranking of the films constituting the George Clooney-led Ocean’s franchise.
4. Ocean’s Twelve
Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and series newcomers Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vincent Cassel, Ocean’s Twelve is the worst film of the franchise. It centers around Terry Benedict’s (Andy Garcia) attempt to get back the money that Danny Ocean and his gang of thieves have stolen from him. The main reason the film sits at the bottom of the list is because of its plot. The other three films focus on one major heist whereas Ocean’s Twelve is built on several smaller heists. The “Tess pretending to be Julia Roberts” bit with Bruce Willis is pretty funny, but only if you don’t think about it too hard.
The film has plenty of other great moments, too. The scene where Danny and Tess reveal their plan to Toulour (Vincent Cassel) is one of the greatest summations in any Ocean’s film, especially with Toulour’s flashback as he dances through the lasers. The scene is spectacular and weirdly one of the best in the franchise. The montage at the beginning of the film where Benedict visits each of the Eleven is pretty great as well, lending the opening a bit of welcome comedy.
The film also boasts a massive cast, with everyone returning from the first film plus Zeta-Jones, Cassel, Eddie Izzard, Robbie Coltrane, and Jared Harris, all of whom have great smaller roles. Overall, the film tends to hit a bit weird instead of clever, and because of the messy plot, its quirkiness doesn’t help as much as hinder, which is another reason why it’s at the bottom of our list.
3. Ocean’s Eight
The all-female spin-off of the Ocean’s franchise boasts an all-star cast including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, and Anne Hathaway. Not directed by the Ocean’s trilogy director Steven Soderbergh, the film did an excellent job of capturing what made the franchise special, namely cool characters and a brilliant heist. Bullock plays Danny Ocean’s sister, Debbie Ocean, who wants to pull a heist after being released from prison. (Sound familiar?) The film’s plot was more sound than Ocean’s 12 and the characters were definitely refreshing after three films featuring male-heavy casts. The film also made a wise decision by choosing not to rob a casino, but instead the MET Gala ⏤ a breath of fresh air for the series.
What made it more than a cheap copy of the original was its dedication to giving its characters a new story rather than having them be exact copies of the original cast. For example, Rose Weil, played by Helena Bonham Carter, is a disastrous, awkwardly funny fashion designer and Sarah Paulson’s Tammy is hiding the fact that she’s helping pull off one of the largest heists of all time from her husband and children, which leads to some humorous moments.
The film contains numerous fantastic sequences, including Elliott Gould’s return as Reuben, the entire heist sequence, and the opening scene when Debbie has just been released from prison and ingeniously steals products from a store and cons her way into a hotel room without paying for it. The film is a unique addition to the franchise but overall doesn’t quite replicate the charm of the original trilogy.
2. Ocean’s Thirteen
Coming in at number two on our list is Ocean’s Thirteen, the last film in the original trilogy. Featuring most of the actors from the first two films (minus Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones), the film also brought in Al Pacino as Willie Bank, a new antagonist.
The plot of the film is as follows: Reuben goes into business with Willie Bank to open a casino, who in turn muscles him out. Reuben then has a heart attack and falls ill because of this, prompting the gang to reunite one last time to rob Bank’s casino and his precious five-diamond awards as revenge. Pacino definitely gives one of his campier performances in this one, but it serves the story well. His scenes opposite George Clooney are some of the best in the franchise.
The plot details are elaborate and sometimes frustratingly so, like the over-thought detection system that can detect whether people have honestly won their games or the golden telephone “magnetron” that disrupts said system. That said, the film has some of the best subplots in any Ocean’s movie, like when Virgil goes to the dice factory and starts an uprising, the entire torturous experience of the Five Diamond Awards inspector, and Danny and Rusty watching Oprah, which acts as the catalyst for them donating all the money they were going to give to Terry Benedict to charity. These show-stopping scenes really elevate the film to the number two spot on our list.
1. Ocean’s Eleven
It should come as no surprise that the 2001 classic that kickstarted the entire franchise takes the top spot in our ranking. Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts, the film simply radiates cool. The plot, of course, finds Clooney’s Danny Ocean getting paroled from prison and hatching a plan to rob not one, but three casinos, all so he can win back his ex-wife, Tess (Roberts). The twists and turns that come with the ending of the film are nothing short of fabulous, culminating in a cathartic and iconic scene where the crew parts ways at the Fountains of Bellagio to the tune of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”
The true brilliance of Ocean’s Eleven lies with its characters. Every member of the gang has a role to play and those roles are abundantly clear. From Linus’s (Matt Damon) insecure rookie con and the disruptive Malloy twins (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan) to the guy you love to hate, Terry Benedict (Garcia), every single character was perfectly cast, even Don Cheadle’s Basher and his ridiculous accent. The film plays like you’re watching old friends reunite on screen, and it’s both engaging and entertaining to watch.
The movie is quite funny as well, albeit not as much as its sequels. The crowd swarming Topher Grace after the poker game and leaving Rusty and Danny alone is excellent. Linus trying to prove himself but failing 90 percent of the time is genius, but the best source of comedy comes from Clooney and Pitt’s ability to play off of one another. They don’t miss a beat in this film and you always have a sense that they know what the other is thinking. This is one of the many reasons why the film takes the top spot in our ranking and simply can’t be beaten.