The 10 Best Movies To Watch if You Like The Cotton Club, Ranked
From high-stakes mob drama to love in the age of jazz, these films kind of have that Cotton Club vibe and flair.
10. American Gangster (2007)
Denzel Washington steps into the shoes of Frank Lucas, a Harlem drug lord. Supply chain management takes on a whole new meaning as this guy smuggles heroin inside the coffins of dead U.S. soldiers. Straight from Vietnam!
Russell Crowe is the cop on his tail, and boy, does this movie have its fill of gritty police work and gangster negotiations.
9. The Untouchables (1987)
The Prohibition Era. Mobsters, illegal booze, and Kevin Costner in a fedora. He plays Eliot Ness, and he's got one job: bring down Al Capone.
With Sean Connery as his mentor (seriously, who wouldn't want to learn from James Bond?), Ness tackles corruption, dodges bullets, and uncovers the art of tax evasion—yeah, it was taxes that brought Capone down. History lesson mixed with drama, anyone?
8. The Artist (2011)
Plot twist! A silent movie in the list. Wait, stay with me here. What The Artist lacks in spoken words, it oozes in cinematic charm. It's the end of the silent era, and our hero, George Valentin, is washed-up, done for, kaput. A newcomer, Peppy Miller, dances her way into the talkies, and, well, George gets left behind.
The catch? It's set in the 1920s, black and white, no dialogue, but a whole lot of tap-dancing! Want to relive The Cotton Club era without the sound? This one's for you.
7. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Now let's take it slow. Real slow. This film stretches across decades, following a group of Jewish kids in New York who turn into organized crime adults.
Starring Robert De Niro and James Woods, it's about friendship, betrayal, and the American Dream served on the rocks with a twist of gangsterism. Sergio Leone took his sweet time with this one, and you'll need to as well.
6. Cabaret (1972)
You loved the musical scenes in The Cotton Club, right? So let's cross the Atlantic. Liza Minnelli, man, she turns Berlin into a playground for jazz hands and sultry songs. Sally Bowles, her character, dances and sings in a nightclub while outside, well, the Nazis are rising to power.
It's as if the world's falling apart, but the show must go on. Ever thought musicals could pack such a political punch?
5. Moulin Rouge! (2001)
What happens when you mix a Bohemian writer, a star-crossed lover, and the dazzling allure of the most famous cabaret in the world? You get "Moulin Rouge!"
Ewan McGregor plays the writer, Nicole Kidman the cabaret star, and together they swirl through a world of jealous duke and absinthe-induced fairy trips. It's like taking Cotton Club's nightclub glamor, slapping it with a jukebox soundtrack and drowning it in Baz Luhrmann's signature visual feast.
4. La La Land (2016)
Imagine, just for a moment, that the Cotton Club wasn't in the Roaring Twenties, but modern-day Hollywood. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dance through an L.A. dreamscape as an aspiring actress and a jazz musician.
There are no gangsters here, but the sacrifices for ambition are just as ruthless. From an impromptu dance on the freeway to melancholic numbers in a jazz club, the film swings through the highs and lows like a jazz composition. Modern-day Cotton Club? Possibly.
3. Goodfellas (1990)
Let's not kid ourselves; a list without Scorsese's gangster opus would be incomplete. Based on the life of Henry Hill, this is a roller-coaster through the mafia's dark underbelly.
Drug deals, hits, and the most ominous version of "Layla" you'll ever hear. Ray Liotta's narration makes it feel like you're sitting in the bar of the Cotton Club, except everyone's packing more than just flasks. Seriously, if you haven't seen it, are you even a fan of the genre?
2. Chicago (2002)
Let's roll back to the Jazz Age, where murderesses can become celebrities and criminal trials are glitzier than Broadway shows. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger sashay and belt their way through a media circus.
Jazz, sex, scandal, and courtroom drama? What's not to love? It's as if the Cotton Club went to law school and aced every class.
1. L.A. Confidential (1997)
Coming in hot at numero uno is "L.A. Confidential," a neo-noir thriller set in 1950s Los Angeles. It's not just a movie; it's a time machine. Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearce play cops entangled in a web of corruption, Hollywood scandal, and a murder case that's not what it seems.
Think of it as Cotton Club's darker, more twisted sibling that went to the West Coast and found itself in an even bigger mess. The jazz clubs, the secrecy, the crime—it's all there, with a plot that would make Raymond Chandler tip his hat.