10 Great Movie Cast Ensembles

Published 10 months ago by

Monuments Men Clooney Damon Balaban Goodman 10 Great Movie Cast Ensembles

Film lovers enjoy watching a major star carry a film on his/her back, but when directors assemble several talented actors for their cast, it only raises the level of excitement. One of the oldest tricks in Hollywood’s book is to get an ensemble of A-listers to split screen time with one another, and studios use the opportunity to market the film as a must-see event. Of course, there are several instances where throwing a bigger cast up on the screen doesn’t lead to a better film, but some filmmakers have found a way to use an ensemble cast that delivers both commercially and critically.

George Clooney’s newest directorial outing, The Monuments Men, is the latest film to attempt this. Starring Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett (among others), it has received plenty of attention for the impressive collection of actors featured in a World War II film. While there’s some question about the overall quality of the final product (early reviews have been mixed up to this point), there’s no denying that the cast should help make The Monuments Men watchable. With the film hitting theaters this week, we started thinking about our favorite ensemble casts in film.

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The Dark Knight

Best Ensembles Dark Knight 10 Great Movie Cast Ensembles

Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed blockbuster sequel is a Batman movie by name, but the Caped Crusader shares the spotlight with several characters during its run time. After using Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne to carry Batman Begins, Nolan peeled back some of the other layers in Gotham City, giving supporting characters like the Joker and Harvey Dent a chance to be co-leads in this gritty crime tale. The trilogy as a whole was impeccably cast, but we’re singling out the middle chapter because it – more than the other two installments – was dependent on all the actors involved.

The late Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his turn as the Joker, and he unquestioningly gave audiences one of the most chilling and terrifying villains in recent memory. His greatness overshadowed the career-best work done by Aaron Eckhart, who underwent a Shakespearean arc – living long enough to see him go from idealistic hero to psychopathic villain. The actor used his qualities to make Dent a charismatic politician in the mold of JFK and convincingly went dark when he transformed into the grief-stricken Two-Face. The Joker (rightfully so) received much of the publicity, but both of Batman’s rogues were essential to the story.

batman 3 joker two face harvey dent 10 Great Movie Cast Ensembles

Franchise staples including Bale, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman were also as reliable as ever. Bale used his chameleon-like method acting to transform into a determined hero, while using his humanistic side to fill out Wayne’s character (see: the scene where he mourns the loss of Rachel). Freeman and Caine provided much-needed moments of levity, and the latter rounded Alfred into something more than just a side character. Maggie Gyllenhaal – who took over for Katie Holmes – slid into the role of Rachel Dawes, improving upon the version in the first film (at least, in this writer’s opinion) by portraying the assistant D.A. as a confident, proactive professional. We’d be remiss to not mention Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, who infused Gotham’s honest cop with a strong sense of moral righteousness.

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TAGS: The Monuments Men

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  1. Wow alot of good ones missing….. HEAT / The Godfather / The Usual Suspects / Tombstone / JFK / True Romance / Resevoir Dogs / Platoon / Casualties of War & if you look hard enough even Scarface has a great ensemble cast.

  2. The Avengers, The Breakfast Club, Superman: The Movie, Batman ’89

  3. So what you are trying to say is… Matt Damon is in every movie ever made. Got it.

  4. Avengers and Lord of the Rings!

  5. How could no one mention the Dirty Dozen. Classic without a doubt and one of my favorite movies. You could argue the expendables was close, but not even close to me.(IMO) Would love to see hollywood update that movie with a remake. My two cents spent and thanxs.

  6. L.A. Confidential

  7. A) IMHO An “ensemble” cast is a cast of famous people wherein a majority of the film focuses on their interactions with one another. It is NOT a film where a few famous people show up during the main character’s journey for a cameo or supporting role (sorry Inglourious Basterds, you’re just a movie with a good cast – it’s not really “an ensemble.”)

    B) everybody seems to be. Complaining that we didn’t pick their favorite – but there’s not a whole lot of objection that our picks aren’t each great – which was the only reponsibility the list was obligated to fulfill.

    OF COURSE we tossed out Godfather or LA Confidentilal or Seven Samurai/ Magnificent Seven and many others mentioned here. But a lot o those or so overdone for this type of list. We went more unorthodox.

    A lot of people are really smelling themselves on this thread. “Calling BS”. Oh please….

    • Calm down, Kofi. I thought the comment section was to add out thoughts. That’s all I did. I wasn’t pooping all over the list here.

      You shouldn’t take things so personally.

      • I take personally what people make personal. Clearly the majority of my comment wasn’t aimed at your suggestion of LA Confidential.

        I was “calm” when I launched this fun little list. I become less calm when my writers are being put down for stupid and/or specious reasons like people getting mad we didn’t hit every old classic or their personal favorite – if they even understand what an ensemble really is, as opposed to a great cast roster.

        This is Web 2.0 – there will be responses to what gets left in these threads. You can bet on it. We’re not a free toilet to be dumped on.

        • Yeah, I’m just saying don’t get yourself worked up about it because 90% of people know what you’re trying to do and are just adding to the discussion. Yeah, some people were “whining” but let them make their own site with their own list if they’re going to flip out about their personal favs being snubbed.

  8. Dirty Dozen, Godfather, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World, LA Confidential easily should make this list

  9. Clearly a list for people born in the last 80s…..

  10. Dirty Doze.

  11. Glengarry Glen Ross

  12. The Godfather?

  13. I would have added…

    Armageddon
    Lord of the Rings
    Magnolia
    This is the End
    Thin Red Line

  14. Very nice. Thanks for 10 movies. I love all movies.

  15. Want to see a massive ensemble? Check out It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, just about every famous comic at the time is in that one. From Jerry Lewis to the 3 Stooges to Sid Ceaser it’s full of surprises.

  16. Watched this one with the kids last night and thought wow what a great cast. Hook, starring Robin Williams, but the ensemble was amazing. Hoffman, Hoskins, Roberts, and Maggie Smith are enough, but throw in cameos and small parts you have quite a line up. Paltrow, David Crosby, Phil Collins, and Arthur Mallet round out the gathering nicely.