Lists · Movies

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

10. Boogie Nights (1997)

Ensemble Films Boogie Nights

Though not his first film, Boogie Nights has sort of stolen the title of PTA’s emergent feature debut (sorry, Hard Eight—I still like you). Only 27 at the time, PTA masterfully directed Mark Wahlberg (then better known as Marky Mark), Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Luis Guzman, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Alfred Molina, Melora Walters, and Philip Seymour Hoffman into a majestic, magnetic tale of the ‘70s/’80s LA porn industry. I’ll never understand how the 4th Annual SAG Awards justified giving Best Ensemble to The Full Monty—that decision is not aging well. Boogie Nights is a cinephile’s dream. It’s like a Kubrick—tremendously long, compelling, but never limp. And, my god, the payoff is huge.

9. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction

What can be said about Tarantino’s Palme d’Or winning sensation that hasn’t been said already? The movie is significant enough to occupy its own square on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame. Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and John Travolta deliver decade-defining performances. Bruce Willis, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Tim Roth, Eric Stoltz, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel, and Tarantino round out the top tier, and Rosanna Arquette, Frank Whaley, and Peter Greene provide superbly strange supporting roles—then again, nothing in this movie is void of strange. Its originality is one of its most attractive characteristics.

8. JFK (1991)


Some call him a historian, some a fake, others a communist spy. But Stone calls himself a “dramatist” and this is his most provocative drama—a blend of legitimate conspiracy, tiny truths, and total unabashed fiction that gets its stinging point across without ever needing to lean on stark historical accuracy. It breached the public conscience, infused a healthy dose of distrust of the government in the American people, and led to a congressional hearing to eventually declassify the Kennedy assassination files. It also had one of the most loaded casts in film history: Kevin Costner, Laurie Metcalf, Sissy Spacek, Vincent D’Onofrio, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Donald Sutherland, Jack Lemmon, John Candy, Wayne Knight, Edward Asner, Michael Rooker, and Dale Dye. Not to mention, a rousing historical introduction via Martin Sheen’s narration.

7. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)


If you’re already upset because I didn’t pick just one, pretend I picked The Two Towers because that’s my favorite. However, the trilogy as a collective earns this single spot due to its cast consistency. Barring the death and addition of a few certain characters, the ensemble remains relatively set in place. Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, Andy Serkis, Viggo Mortensen, Hugo Weaving, Orland Bloom, Ian McKellen, Marton Csokas, John Rhys-Davies, Sean Bean, and Dominic Monaghan appear in all three, and Karl Urban, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, David Wenham, and Miranda Otto are in 2/3. Fun fact: together the three films share 17 Oscars.

6. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Murder On The Orient Express

If you haven’t noticed already, almost every one of these films is directed by a film legend. I shouldn’t have to defend that. It’s a switchback argument. Great directors make great films make great lists made up of great films made by great directors, etc. This is no exception. For those not familiar with film history—Sidney Lumet gifted us with jewels from 12 Angry Men (1957) to Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) to the original Murder on the Orient Express, which fell in the middle of an indomitable back-to-back-to-back-to-back run in Serpico (1973), itself, Dog Day Afternoon (1975), and Network (1976). The all-star cast includes Albert Finney, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, Jacqueline Bisset, Wendy Hiller, John Gielgud, Michael York, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam, Richard Widmark, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and Rachel Roberts.

Next Page

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

Related Topics: ,

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.