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The 25 Best Ensemble Movies Ever

Cinema’s starriest in film history’s greatest.
Update The Lists Ensemble Films
By  · Published on July 30th, 2018

14. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)


Perhaps the most self-explanatory movie on this entire list, Ocean’s Eleven is the poster child of ensemble films, celebrated for its riveting star power and supremely effective casting. A simple list of names ought to jog your memory if Ocean’s 8 (2018) didn’t already: Bernie Mac, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, Topher Grace, and Carl Reiner. It’s tempting to give the award to the equally great Ocean’s Twelve (2007) for its Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vincent Cassel additions, but in the event of such a close call, the tie goes to the original. The other two installments can fight for the scraps.

13. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Ensembles Years A Slave

McQueen’s disturbing but necessary re-telling of a free black man’s capture and enslavement in the 19th century plantation-riddled Southern US is not the kind of movie you walk out of discussing star power. But once you’ve done some processing and have time to revisit the details, you’ll realize that the screen was nearly on fire from start to finish. The historical tragedy carries the A-list likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, and Paul Dano. And don’t forget the treasured supporting cast (Alfre Woodard, Michael Kenneth Williams, Storm Reid, Scoot McNairy, Taran Killam, and Bill Camp).

12. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums

If this was a list based entirely on preference, Anderson’s film would be wearing silver simply because I can’t ever seem to get enough of it. This was the world’s introduction to large Wes Anderson ensembles, every focal character is an absolute knockout, and the specific chemistry of this tight, starry cast is so delightfully depressing. But, in an attempt to spread the wealth and infuse some attempted objectivity, I think pushing it back ten spots is fair. Also, the Wes Anderson favorite has one of the smallest ensemble numbers on the list, barely qualifying with ten, but feeling as loaded as the top five with at least two A-listers on screen in nearly every scene. In order of my adoration for each character: Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Ben Stiller, Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Gene Hackman, and Alec Baldwin (with the lovable Wes Anderson regular, Kumar Pallana as Pagoda—the cherry on top).

11. I’m Not There (2007)

Ensembles Im Not There

Todd Haynes’ experimental Bob Dylan biopic is brimming with ambition and teeming with intelligence. This one is for the Dylan-desperate, but also anyone who follows the novel stylings of Haynes. Dylan is portrayed in one way or another by six different actors: Richard Gere, Christian Bale, Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett—who was nominated at the Oscars for her role as the snide, electric Dylan—and Marcus Carl Franklin (not famous in his own right, but he deserves some attention as one of the six leads). Narration by the smoky voice of Kris Kristofferson and appearances by Michelle Williams, Haynes staple Julianne Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bruce Greenwood, and David Cross (as poet Allen Ginsberg) thicken the film’s argument for ensemble greatness. Make this your new Heath Ledger memorial watch. Don’t think twice, it’s all right—The Dark Knight (2008) is not suffering from lack of attention.

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Luke Hicks is a New York City film journalist by way of Austin, TX, and an arts enthusiast who earned his master's studying film philosophy and ethics at Duke. He thinks every occasion should include one of the following: whiskey, coffee, gin, tea, beer, or olives. Love or lambast him @lou_kicks.