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Molly s Game is a 2017 American biographical crime drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (in his directorial debut), based on the 2014 memoir of the same name by Molly Bloom. It stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O Dowd, Joe Keery, Brian D Arcy James, and Bill Camp.
The film follows Bloom (Chastain), who becomes the target of an FBI investigation after the underground poker empire she runs for Hollywood celebrities, athletes, business tycoons, and the Russian mob is exposed.
Principal photography began in November 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The film premiered on September 8, 2017, at the Toronto International Film Festival, and began a limited theatrical release in the United States on December 25, 2017, by STX Entertainment, before expanding wide on January 5, 2018, and grossed $59 million worldwide.
Molly s Game received positive reviews, with particular praise for Sorkin s screenplay, as well as Chastain and Elba s performances, with the former being considered one of the best of her career by some critics. The film earned Chastain a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Drama, while Sorkin earned nominations for his screenplay at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Writers Guild of America Awards, and BAFTA Awards.
Molly Bloom is a world-class mogul skier with Olympic aspirations, thanks to years of enforced training from her overbearing father. In a qualifying event for the 2002 Winter Olympics, she is severely injured, ending her career.
Instead of attending law school immediately, Molly takes a year off and moves to LA. Becoming a bottle service waitress at a club, she soon meets Dean, an ostentatious but unsuccessful real estate developer. She becomes his office manager, and is soon involved in running his underground poker games at The Cobra Lounge . Many famous and wealthy individuals, including movie stars, investment bankers, and sports players, are involved in Dean s game. Molly earns large sums of money in tips alone.
Initially unfamiliar with poker, Molly quickly learns how to appeal to the players for tips. In particular, she hopes to please the most successful player, a film star named Player X, by attracting new players to the game. Dean, upon seeing that Molly is becoming increasingly independent in running the games, attempts to control, and then fires her.
Molly, having contacts through years of running the game, creates her own poker games. She rents a hotel penthouse and hires a staff. Additionally, she contacts club and casino employees to spread the word about her games.
Player X, along with many others, leaves Dean s games to play at Molly s. Increasingly successful, as Molly gains more money she is pressured by Player X to raise the stakes. Harlan Eustice, a skilled, conservative, and successful player, joins Molly s game.
One night, after accidentally losing a hand to the notoriously worst player, Brad Marion, Harlan becomes increasingly compulsive, suffering heavy losses (later, Molly finds out that Player X, who enjoys ruining people s lives more than the game itself, has been funding him to keep him playing). After Molly berates him for his unethicality, Player X decides to change venue for his games, and the others join him, leaving Molly.
Molly moves to NYC to begin a new underground poker game. After reaching out to many wealthy New Yorkers, Molly finds enough players for several weekly games.
Despite continuous success, she fears being unable to cover her losses when players cannot pay. Her dealer convinces her to begin taking a percentage of large pots, recouping her potential losses but making her game an illegal gambling operation.
Brad is indicted for running a Ponzi scheme; Molly is investigated and questioned as to who attended her games. At this time, she becomes increasingly addicted to drugs, as the games have taken their toll. Her players also begin to include wealthy individuals from the Russian mafia, among others.
Molly is approached by the Italian mafia, who offer their services to extort money from non-paying players. After she declines, she is attacked in her home, held at gunpoint and her mother s life is threatened. As she is about to return to her poker games, the FBI raids, as Douglas Downey, a player infatuated with her, informs on her. Molly s assets are seized, and she returns home to live with her mother.
Two years later, Molly has published a book, naming only a few individuals that played in her games. Arrested by the FBI, she is indicted for involvement in illegal gambling with the mafia. She enlists Charlie Jaffey s help, a high-profile, expensive lawyer in New York, who agrees to help after learning she has been protecting innocent people affected by her poker games.
While she is in NYC awaiting trial, her father Larry seeks her out and attempts to reconcile. He admits he was overbearing and that he treated Molly differently than her brothers because she had known about his affairs.
Charlie reads Molly s book and becomes interested in helping her case, as he feels she has not committed serious enough wrongdoing to merit prison. Charlie negotiates a deal for Molly to receive no sentence and for her money to be returned in exchange for her hard drives and digital gambling records. Molly declines this deal, fearing that the information about her players would be released, and she pleads guilty.
The judge, deciding that she had committed no serious crimes, sentences her to 200 hours community service, one year probation, and a $200,000 fine.
- Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom
- Idris Elba as Charlie Jaffey, Molly s lawyer
- Kevin Costner as Larry Bloom, Molly s father and a clinical psychologist
- Michael Cera as Player X, a composite character based on celebrity gamblers including Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ben Affleck.
- Jeremy Strong as Dean Keith, the real estate developer who brings Molly into the world of underground poker; inspired by Darin Feinstein
- Chris O Dowd as Douglas Downey, the man who introduces Molly to the Russian mob and brings them to the table
- J. C. MacKenzie as Harrison Wellstone
- Brian d Arcy James as Brad Marion, a hedge fund manager
- Bill Camp as Harlan Eustice, a card sharp who gets in over his head
- Graham Greene as Judge Dustin Foxman
- Justin Kirk as Jay
- Angela Gots as B
- Natalie Krill as Winston
- Joe Keery as Cole
- Michael Kostroff as Louis Butterman
- Claire Rankin as Charlene Bloom, Molly s mother and Larry s wife
- Jon Bass as Shelly Habib
- Samantha Isler as Teen Molly Bloom
- Kjartan Hewitt as Player
- Jacob Blair as Jeremy Bloom, Molly s brother
- Dan Lett as David Segan
- Rachel Skarsten as Leah
- Dov Tiefenbach as Club Customer
- David Reale as LA Player
- Jake Goldsbie as LA Player
- Chris Owens as LA Player
- Thomas Hauff as Mr. Sernovitz
- Ari Cohen as NY Player
On November 12, 2014, Mark Gordon s The Mark Gordon Company bought the feature film adaptation rights to Molly Bloom s memoir, Molly s Game, which Gordon produced. Aaron Sorkin was hired to adapt the memoir into a screenplay. Bloom had already approached Sorkin, as he was her favorite writer . On January 7, 2016, it was announced that Sorkin would make his directorial debut on the film, for Sony Pictures Entertainment, while Amy Pascal also produced. On February 18, 2016, Sony exited the project, and on May 13, 2016, STX Entertainment came on board, and subsequently bought the film s US and Chinese distribution rights for $9 million.
On February 18, 2016, Sorkin offered Jessica Chastain the lead role in the film, but the negotiations between them had then not yet begun. On May 6, 2016, Idris Elba joined the film to star alongside Chastain. Sorkin stated that the casting of Jessica and Idris in the two lead roles is any filmmaker s dream come true, they re two of the greatest actors of their generation, paired for the first time, and their chemistry will be electric. On September 7, 2016, Michael Cera joined the cast as Player X, a celebrity poker player. On October 17, 2016, Kevin Costner joined as Molly Bloom s father, and on October 21, 2016, Brian d Arcy James was added. On November 9, 2016, Chris O Dowd, Jeremy Strong, Bill Camp, and Graham Greene joined the cast as well.
Molly Bloom herself discussed Chastain s portrayal of her character with ET Canada stating, We spent a little time together. She didn t have much time for prep or research, Bloom told ET Canada s Matte Babel. I was blown away by her performance by how right it was and how deep and understood I felt by her performance.
Principal photography began on November 9, 2016, in Toronto. Production concluded on February 9, 2017.
Molly s Game premiered on September 8, 2017, at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was also the closing film at AFI Fest on November 16, 2017, replacing All the Money in the World. It began a limited release in North America on December 25, 2017, before expanding wide on January 5, 2018. The film was previously slated to be released on November 22, 2017, before being moved to the Christmas date in October 2017.
Molly s Game grossed $28.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $30.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $59.3 million.
On Christmas Day, the film debuted with $1.04 million from 271 theaters. In its first full weekend, the film grossed $2.3 million, finishing 13th at the box office. The film expanded wide on January 5, 2018, alongside the opening of Insidious: The Last Key, and was projected to gross around $6 million from 1,608 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to $6.9 million, finishing 7th at the box office. The following weekend it dropped 44% to $3.9 million, finishing 11th. In its third week of wide release the film grossed $1.7 million, finishing 19th.
The film also grossed a total of $4.5 million in France and $5.3 million in the United Kingdom.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 82% based on 309 reviews, with an average rating of 7.10/10. The website s critical consensus reads, Powered by an intriguing story and a pair of outstanding performances from Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, Molly s Game marks a solid debut for writer-director Aaron Sorkin. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating generally favorable reviews . Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of A− on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Debruge of Variety praised Sorkin s script, saying, … Molly s Game delivers one of the screen s great female parts — a dense, dynamic, compulsively entertaining affair, whose central role makes stunning use of Chastain s stratospheric talent. Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film 9/10, writing, Molly s Game is a perfect story for Sorkin. There s poker, the Russian mafia, the Italian mafia, celebrities, and sports. The only thing missing for Sorkin s wheelhouse is President Bartlet. And at over two hours long, the film still feels tight and never fails to entertain.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying, Molly s Game bristles with fun zingers, electric energy and Sorkin s brand of verbal fireworks – all of which help enormously when the movie falters in fleshing out its characters. Still, in his first film with a female protagonist, the writer-director has hit on a timely theme: the tribulations of being a woman in a man s world. Chastain s portrayal of Molly Bloom was praised by The Hollywood Reporter, for Chastain roars through the performance with a force and take-no-prisoners attitude that keeps one rapt. The Hollywood Reporter also stated: Sorkin keeps things rolling relentlessly and gets fine results from the actors down the line. The film looks sharp and a trio of editors keeps thing pacey despite the 140-minute running time. It concluded: One strong woman and many rich men make for a good show.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref.|
|AARP s Movies for Grownups Awards||February 5, 2018||Best Screenwriter||Aaron Sorkin||Won|
|Academy Awards||March 4, 2018||Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||January 9, 2018||Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|American Cinema Editors||January 26, 2018||Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic||Alan Baumgarten, Elliot Graham and Josh Schaeffer||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Awards||February 18, 2018||Best Adapted Screenplay||Aaron Sorkin||Nominated|
|Critics Choice Movie Awards||January 11, 2018||Best Actress||Jessica Chastain||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Aaron Sorkin||Nominated|
|Denver International Film Festival||November 13, 2017||Career Achievement Award||Won|
|Detroit Film Critics Society||December 7, 2017||Best Actress||Jessica Chastain||Nominated|
|Florida Film Critics Circle||December 23, 2017||Best Screenplay – Adapted||Aaron Sorkin||Nominated|
|Georgia Film Critics Association||January 12, 2018||Best Actress||Jessica Chastain||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Aaron Sorkin||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||January 7, 2018||Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama||Jessica Chastain||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Aaron Sorkin||Nominated|
|Mill Valley Film Festival||October 17, 2017||Audience Favorite U.S. Cinema – Gold Award||Molly s Game||Won|
|Palm Springs International Film Festival||January 2, 2018||Chairman s Award||Jessica Chastain||Won|
|Producers Guild of America Awards||January 20, 2018||Best Theatrical Motion Picture||Mark Gordon, Amy Pascal and Matt Jackson||Nominated|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle||December 10, 2017||Best Adapted Screenplay||Aaron Sorkin||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||February 10, 2018||Best Actress||Jessica Chastain||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Aaron Sorkin||Nominated|
|USC Scripter Awards||February 10, 2018||Best Screenplay||Aaron Sorkin and Molly Bloom||Nominated|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association||December 8, 2017||Best Adapted Screenplay||Aaron Sorkin||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||February 11, 2018||Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|Zurich Film Festival||October 4, 2017||Career Achievement Award||Won|
|Plot||The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.|
|Awards||Nominated for 1 Oscar, 8 wins & 53 nominations total|
|Writers||Aaron Sorkin, Molly Bloom|
|Stars||Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner|
|Produced by||Oren Aviv, Felice Bee, Stuart M. Besser, Adam Fogelson, Mark Gordon, Leopoldo Gout, Matt Jackson, Joanne Lee, Lauren Lohman, Lyn Lucibello, Amy Pascal, Josh Clay Phillips, Robert Simonds, Donald Tang, Zhongjun Wang, Zhonglei Wang|
|Music by||Daniel Pemberton|
|Cinematography by||Charlotte Bruus Christensen|
|Film Editing by||Alan Baumgarten, Elliot Graham, Josh Schaeffer|
|Casting By||Francine Maisler|
|Production Design by||David Wasco|
|Art Direction by||Brandt Gordon|
|Set Decoration by||Patricia Larman, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco|
|Costume Design by||Susan Lyall|
|Makeup Department||Kelly Brennan, Elizabeth Cortez, Sarah Craig, Linda Dowds, Patricia Grande, Andrea Grande-Capone, Carol Hartwick, Stephanie Ingram, David Kalahiki, Jackie Masterson, Alastair Muir, Jenn Jorge Nelson, Ryan Reed, Malanie J. Romero, Steven R. Soussanna, Vincent Sullivan, Marilyn Terry, Molly Tissavary, Albena Zlatanov|
|Production Management||Stuart M. Besser, Marjorie Chodorov, Geno Hart, Bart Lipton, Lyn Lucibello, Tim Weyers, Timothy Marx|
|Second Unit Director or Assistant Director||Penny Charter, Walter Gasparovic, Conor Griff, Rory James, Drew McLean, Beth Mell, Kolm Mooney, Travis Rehwaldt, Drew Ritson, Craig Seitz, Giselle Selim, Monica Simpson, John Stoneham Jr., Adam Szalai|
|Art Department||Darleen Abbott, Oren Barkow, David Best, Cameron S. Brooke, Kayty Brooke, Robert C. Brooke, Steve Broussard, Flavian Bulfon, Joanna Bush, Mike Butt, Anthony Carlino, Jon Chan, Tina Charad, William Cheng, Daniel Columbie, Brian Cranstone, Neil Crawford, David DeMarinis, David DiCorpo, Andrew Dininio, Emerson Doerksen, Vince Donato, Mike Drury, Brad Einhorn, Ann-Marie Ferney-Tellez, Erin Fite, Christopher Geggie, Danny Haeberlin, Matthew Hallett, Patrick Head, John Hinz, Scott Howes, Jesse Hutchins, Jawed J.S., Henry Jesiak, Kevin Lise, John Mackenzie, Melissa Manke, Sandor Mate, James Matthews, Ryan McCaffrey, Marlon McLean, Kari Measham, Kenny Meinzinger, John Moran, Aaron Nadler, Daniel Novotny, Rowena O Connor, Tania Orlandi, Hermes Parga, Dusty Reeves, Marina Reshetnikova, Orlando Reyes, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, Trevor Roache, Dave Rosa, Jill Salaver, Henry Salonen, Gary Scwatz, Randy Severino, Drew Simmons, James Staples, Brian van de Valk, Bernadette Warren, Scott Williston, Colin Woods, Vickie Yolevsky, Sarah Zanon, Tim Zydel|
|Sound Department||Michael J. Benavente, Odin Benitez, Paul Bliven, Alex Bullick, Mark Coffey, Mitch B. Cohn, Ryan Coursey, John D Aquino, Claire Dobson, John Elliot, Nelson Ferreira, Glen Gauthier, Nadya Hanlon, Krystin Hunter, Bob Lacivita, Lisa J. Levine, Brian Magrum, David McCallum, Jason McFarling, Scott Millan, Steve Morantz, Jill Purdy, Gregg Rudloff, Joe Savastano, Kevin Schultz, Dirk Stout, Todd Toon, Drew Webster, Tyler Whitham, Randy Wilson, David Yonson, Alan Zielonko|
|Special Effects by||Daniel Gibson, Gary Kleinsteuber, Drew Longland, Laird McMurray, Michael Saintsbury|
|Visual Effects by||Mandy Au, Cyril Balavoine, Matt Cameron, Colleen Catton, Pascal Depocas, Dani Devereux, Michael DiCarlo, Amber Evans, David François, Rahim Gilani, Eilidh Goosen, Emma Gorbey, Sabrina Guerin, Shreyas Gujrati, Martin Hesselink, Salim Kandulna, Akshay Khanna, Kenneth Lai, Nina Lankveld, Michelle Ledesma-Yhan, Jae Won D. Lee, Madison Littlefield, John Markle, Sean Ryan McEwan, Marlon McLean, Sarah McMurdo, Brodie McNeill, Taylor McNutt, David Meikle, Alan Millan, Jessica Parsons, Matt Ralph, Andy Robinson, Jagdeep Saggu, Alphonse Swinehart, Patrick Taillefer, Greg Takacs, Simran Takhar, Aaron Weintraub, Brianne Wells, Olaf Wendt, Xiao Xiao, Kyle Yoneda, Aurore de Blois, Fred Duarte|
|Stunts||Roy T. Anderson, Alex Armbruster, Krista Bell, Heather Bonomo, Dino Brancatella, Mike Burke, Christine Ebadi, Roy Farfel, Edward Gabree, Simon Girard, Greg Harvey, Donald John Hewitt, John Kaye, Steve Lucescu, Patrick Mark, Regan Moore, Ashley Pynn, Tracey Ruggiero, Kristofer Ryan, Steve Shack Shackleton, Larissa Stadnichuk, John Stoneham Jr., Dave Van Zeyl, Michael Viola|
|Camera and Electrical Department||Sean Bourdeau, Jake Bowman, Robert Bowman, Jan Burgess, Vincent Camuto Jr., Kyle Carden, Brian Carlisle, Matthew Castellitto, Michael Cherrington, Ross Citrin, Robert Cochrane, Angelo Colavecchia, Mark Collins, Ciaran Copelin, John Crockford, Scott Daharb, Steve Dalcin, Adrienne Durazo, Richard Emerson, Michael Galbraith, Michael Gibson, Glen Goodchild, Duane Gullison, Michael L. Hall, Christopher Hamilton, Johnathan Holmes, Bogdan Iofciulescu, Glenn Kaplan, Michael Kelly, Jeremy Knaster, Ed Kopp, Patrick Krauter, Shaun Kuebeck, Jeff Kuzyk, Alex Lawrence, Shaun Lowry, Rany Ly, Ari Magder, Elhanan Matos, Michael J. Maurer, Cameron S. Mitchell, Jesse Moriarty, Anthony Nocera, Bill O Leary, Matt O Sullivan, Richard Pengelly, Sylvia Pranaitis, Tom Prate, Jessica Ramos, Matthew Reid, Dustin Rivers, Dana Rutledge, Andy Ryan, Michael Saintsbury, Ronald Schlueter, Matt Shaver, Basil Smith, Kyryll Sobolev, Steve Speers, Dean Stinchcombe, Eve Strickman, Babak Tehrani, Alan D Thatcher, Paul Thompson, Edward Viola, Jasper Vrakking, John Vrakking, Ken Wiebe, Alex Worster, Allan Wylie|
|Casting Department||Patty Connolly, Kathy Driscoll, Catherine Gilchrist, Ashley Gray, Jonathan Oliveira, Lauren Richer, Molly Rose, Mark Sussman|
|Costume and Wardrobe Department||Rachel Archer, Ghilaine Bouadana, Ciara Brennan, Renee Fontana, Gerri Gillan, Wayne Godfrey, Kirsten MacLeod, Laura Montgomery, Andrew M Nelson, Susan Nycz, Avery Plewes, Janice Skinner, Barnaby Smith, Ahmad Zargaran|
|Editorial Department||Darcy Arthurs, Jesse Chapman, Rob Gyorgy, Michael Hatzer, Margaret Hutz, Chris Jensen, Nancy Kirhoffer, Robert LeBlanc, Joshua Raymond Lee, Christina Mar, Jason Myres, Bob Peishel, Joe Rosenbloom, John Walek, Jim Fleming|
|Location Management||Chris Baugh, Jared Burton, Michael Connors, Don Cornelius, Dena Ghieth, Fred Kamping, Mark McFadden, Gina Reznitsky, Marion de Vries|
|Music Department||Leo Abrahams, Robin Baynton, Victoria Beard, Matt Jones, Carlton Kaller, Nathan W Klein, Vitek Kral, Sean Mulligan, Jonathan Noyce, Sam Okell, Jonny Sims, Andrew Skeet, Alex Thomas|
|Script and Continuity Department||Samantha Armstrong, Steve Deering, Sharron Reynolds, Shane B. Scott|
|Transportation Department||Ron Annabelle, Patrick Batchelor, Brad Beaven, Bill Boyd, Mac Day, Helene Fauteux, Phil Gawley, Ron Hilts, Dana Howes, Wayne Ireland, Shelley Mansell, Joe S. Norris, Frank Tenaglia|
|Additional Crew||Jeanette Agaronoff, Charlene Amoia, Colleen Cavanaugh Anthony, Aaron Becker, Jenna Berger, Steve Berman, Shamso Bihi, Tyson Breuer, Mark Bulow, Kyle Casper, Nicholas Guillermo Ceppi, Simon Cheyne, Jane Cho, Albert Choi, Kevin Clark-Ryan, Richard Cline, Sarah Cook, Ian Cooper, Dylan Cranstone, Caroline Currier, Claire Dobner, Katharine Duke, Aislinn Dunster, Kate Fasulo, Krystle Ferdinand, Francesca Galesi, Brandon Galvan, Sabrina Golfo, Gwendolyn Granger, T.J. Hallett, Susan Hegarty, Kari-Michael Helava, Andreea Hluscu, Leah Holmes, Steven Holster, Julia Hutchison, Lori Ada Jaroslow, Caryn Lawson, Josh Leichner, Kyle Limkilde, Ben Lusthaus, Nestor L. Marmol, Casper Martinez, Amilia Matthews, Dean McManus, John Nelles, Eliza Nichols, Sam Nyhuus, Jedrek Oquendo, Jerome Persaud, Charlie Pinto, Caitlyn Porto, Carrie Prince, Jonathan B. Schwartz, Lisa Shamata, Nushina Shirazi, Sat Sidhu, Drew Simon, Immanuel Spira, Kristin Steigerwalt, Joseph Thavundayil, Laura Thorne, Tony Towns, Denise Violante, Jordan Wallace, Julia Wooten, Mandee Youse, Ashton Fontana, Thomas B. McGrath, Troy James Miller, Kate Vorhoff|
|Thanks||Ken Hertz, Gabby Revilla Lugo|
|Genres||Biography, Crime, Drama|
|Companies||STX Entertainment, Huayi Brothers Pictures, The Mark Gordon Company|
|Countries||USA, Canada, China|
|Keywords||poker,lawyer,female protagonist,father daughter relationship,skiing|