10 Great Movie Cast Ensembles

Published 8 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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  1. Some interesting choices. Michael Mann’s Heat remains one of my favorite ensembles and films. Tombstone would be another great ensemble, in my opinion.

    • why do people say “in my opinion?” of course it’s in your opinion. who else’s opinion would it be in?

      • @realist

        Uh, because some people don’t think it’s just their opinion. There are plenty of people here that would proclaim their favorites not as their favorites, but as “the best” and to them it’s a statement of fact, meaning if you disagree, that just means you have bad taste. By saying “in my opinion” that person is making sure it’s clear that he/she is not trying to make such a claim to the editor who wrote the article for excluding what he/she is naming…

        • @ Ken J

          Well said…
          When I first started commenting online on a regular basis I would hardly ever add a “IMO” to my posts but now I will make sure I throw one in there 90% of the time mostly to cover my butt. I learned the hard way that a good portion of people (not all and usually not here) are looking for reasons to go into attack mode, especially if they think you’re just bashing something they like.

          This entire comment is IMO. ;)

          • @KenJ & @ Kevin7, A fine explanation, thank you.

            And, to my list I’d add the exceptional cast of The Princess Bride.
            In my opinion, as a matter of fact. ;)

            • In your opinion AND as a matter of fact? Inconceivable!! ;-)

              • “I don’t think you’re using that word right” :-)

              • @ Ken J

                Imo, The Quick & The Dead would be another with Russell Crowe & Gene Hackman.

      • People say it because, in my opinion, it comes across as being pretentious and trying to speak for others without writing it. So many times people write their opinions as if they’re facts.

      • Ha realist! I think you should invest in a brain cell, before commenting again.

        • *IMO

          FTFY

    • +1 for Tombstone.

  2. Thin Red Line was full of filmstars. I expected to see it here. Really a who’s who of huge names!

  3. what about the expendables ??

  4. Tombstone, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Glory, Platoon, True Romance.

    • True Romance absolutely. Odlly enough, the two leads (Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette) are probably the weakest actors in the movie (though they do fine here). Gary Oldman, James Gandolfini (In the role that got him Tony Soprano), Bradd Pitt (in the role that inspired Pineapple Express), Dennis Hopper, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Walken, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer. One of my favorite films of all-time and my favorite musical score of all-time.

      • Yeah True Romance was written by Tarantino so it had that cool, indie cast vibe. Michael Rapaport, Michael Beach, Chris Penn, Sal Rubinek and Bronson Pinchot of all people had great roles too. Crash and Traffic had great cast too, and of course Apocalypse Now.

  5. Silverado … Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Linda Hunt, Jeff Fahey, Brian Dennehey, Lynn Whitfield, Rosanna Arquette and probably more I am forgetting…a classic modern western..

  6. no its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. For shame.

  7. Marvel Cinematic Universe? How about Slumdog Millionaire or the Gladiator? The Aviator or the Hurt Locker? And I really can’t believe you guys left out the Lord of the Rings and Inglorious Bastards!

  8. I call BS on this one. How could you overlook The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, and The Great Escape?

    • Offcourse they overlooked these movies,they are more than a few years old.
      This is screenrant.

    • Honestly, this list in particular could have gone up to 30 or 40 films and there’d still be some major omissions. There are tons of great ensemble casts. The point of this feature was to list ten examples of this concept to encourage discussion in the comments section. There’s no need to “call BS on this one.” It’s not meant to be the *definitive* list of the greatest ensembles of all-time. It’s just ten instances where the director assembled an awesome cast.

      Like I say at the end of all my list posts, it’s not meant to be all-inclusive.

      • +a googleplex

  9. In Star Wars, don’t forget about Peter Cushing as Tarkin. I love the use of established British actors juxtaposed with the younger newcomers.

  10. Pulp Fiction, Heat, Ocean’s Twelve.

  11. Strange that Tom Cruise was the original pick for the Joker part and he turned it down to be in Top Gun 2. I wish he hadn’t done that.

  12. +1 for Tombstone
    I’m also going to say that The 40 Year Old Virgin deserves a mention on a list of this type.

  13. Space Balls is one of my favorites

  14. I’ll throw in some comedies…

    Anchorman, Airplane and any of the Monty Python movies are worth a mention.

  15. Outsiders

  16. The Godfather should’ve been on this list. Brando, Pacino, Duvall, Caan, Cazale, Keaton, you just can’t beat it.

  17. Leon: The Professional. Every actor in that was amazing! Jean Reno, Natalie Portman and Gary Oldeman! Soooo good.
    The last few fast n furious movies have also had great casts. Not Oscar winning or anything but all the pieces defiantly come together.

  18. The Prestige has a pretty great cast, Black Hawk Down aswell.

  19. Predator?

    • More for the political significance rather than acting skill

  20. Tropic Thunder, Zoolander, Rat Race, Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest.

    What can I say ? I like comedies.

  21. Goodfellas is another example of an ensemble cast.

  22. this list could have easily been the top 100 greatest ensembles caasts…i cant believe Heat wasn’t listed in the crimes.

  23. If they have do a TV series version of this article, I think “Chuck” should definitely be there. :)

  24. Glengarry Glen Ross.

    “Put. That coffee. Down.”

  25. PREDATOR!!!

    • … I mean, body mass alone ;)

  26. Glengarry, Glen Ross and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

  27. 1)Kelly’s Heroes (Eastwood,Sutherland,Rickles,Savales,
    O’Connor ,Harry Dean Stanton and a host of great character Actors)
    2)The Wild Bunch
    (Holden,Borgnine,Oates,Johnson,Ryan,
    Strother Martin,LQ Jones and many more)
    3)The Long Riders
    (Keaches,Carradines and Quaids)
    4)Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
    (Coburn,Kristofferson,Bob Dylan,Pickens,Elam,Harry Dean,jaeckel,Jurado,lq jones and on and on in what I consider to be the greatest ensemble cast in a movie ever)
    (

  28. Amazed nobody mentioned Reservoir Dogs…Keitel,Roth,Buscemi,Madsen,Penn,Teirney. His best Cast film and imo still his best film period..

  29. Let’s not forget The Avengers!