Top 20 Movie Ensemble Casts Of All Time
Trivia Top 20 Movie Ensemble Casts Of All Time

RELATED VIDEOS

Share

Top 20 Movie Ensemble Casts Of All Time

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Now THIS is how you cast a film. For this list, we'll be looking at the best ensemble casts in film, based on their chemistry, performances, and how much they bring to the movies in general. Our countdown includes ensembles from movies such as “Inception” (2010), “GoodFellas” (1990), “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) and more!
Transcript
Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 20 Ensemble Casts in Movies Ever

Now THIS is how you cast a film. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 20 ensemble casts in movies ever. For this list, we’ll be looking at the best ensemble casts in film, based on their chemistry, performances, and how much they bring to the movies in general.


#20: “Inception” (2010)

This film tells the mind-bending story of a group of people trying to implant an idea in a man’s head by entering his dreams. With a premise like that… “Inception” could have very easily wound up a confusing mess in the hands of less competent director - or had he been armed with a lesser cast. And while some argue that it’s still rather confusing, at least viewers who struggle to keep up can still enjoy the performances of these great actors. “Inception” is definitely the story of Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, but he is surrounded by a talented ensemble, including Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Paige, Tom Hardy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose interpersonal dynamics, while not the focus, are still wonderfully entertaining to watch.

#19: “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974)

There have been a couple of adaptations of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery novel set on a train, but we ultimately went with this Academy-award nominated version from 1974. With Albert Finney as Inspector Poirot, and passengers played by big names like Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, and Michael York, this whodunnit certainly boasts a killer cast. Together these talented actors bring to life characters who at once entertain and arouse suspicion while Poirot and the audience tries to unravel the mystery. Many get their own time to shine individually, but the scenes in which they’re gathered together in the same room are particularly brilliant, with accusations and revelations coming fast and heavy.

#18: “Bridesmaids” (2011)

Jealousy and disaster have rarely been so funny! When Annie is asked to be maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding, she and the other bridesmaids become involved in an increasingly outlandish and embarrassing series of events. Led by Kristen Wiig, this comedy features some fantastic comedic performances, from mainstays like Melissa McCarthy and Ellie Kemper, to actresses like Rose Byrne - who, up to this point, was better known for her dramatic roles. Suffice it to say, she rose to the occasion. Together, they play off one another to help make each new gut busting scene all the funnier. You’ll certainly never think of airplanes or bridal shops the same way again.

#17: “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963)

When a group of strangers learn from a dying man that 350 grand in stolen cash is buried in a state park, a mad dash ensues to see who can claim it first. The madcap misadventures that the disparate characters get into along the way are often absurd, but they’re sold by the performances of this star-studded cast. This is a film jam-packed with big names of classic Hollywood, including Spencer Tracy, Edie Adams, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, and Jonathan Winters. And that’s just the main cast! The film also features cameos from seemingly every big name of the time. Whoever’s idea it was must have been “mad” themselves – in the best way.


#16: “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004)

If there’s a funnier movie about immature news anchors in the 1970s, we haven’t seen it! Starring Will Ferrell as the titular “Anchorman”, the film follows the misadventures of Ron and his news team, with a particular focus on Ron’s turbulent romantic life, which inevitably upends his career. The core cast is made up of comedic powerhouses, including Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, and a then-relatively unknown Steve Carell. There are also a ton of cameos in one of cinema’s most memorably bizarre fight scenes. Chock full of more quotable lines than you can throw a lamp at, “Anchorman” is a comedy for the ages, and it wouldn’t be half as funny without its hilarious cast.

#15: “Magnolia” (1999)

While we considered choosing director Paul Thomas Anderson’s other ensemble film set in L.A., “Boogie Nights,” we ultimately went with his later work, “Magnolia,” instead. The film follows the lives of interconnected people as they undergo trying events. Although at times strange and bizarre (there is a scene where frogs fall from the sky, after all), “Magnolia” is still a film about humanity, and it succeeds in no small part thanks to its cast’s standout performances. Between Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, and what may be a career best from Tom Cruise, this is a film that’s worth watching for the acting alone.

#14: “The Breakfast Club” (1985)

While this film might have the smallest cast on our list, it has quality over quantity going for it. “The Breakfast Club” follows a group of 5 teenage students in detention as they butt heads with each other over their own preconceptions, before ultimately coming together. Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and Anthony Michael Hall are all fantastically relatable as teenagers struggling with expectations others have for them, while Paul Gleason, as the assistant principal, is the quintessential authority figure. Together, the cast embodies characters that nearly anyone can connect to.

#13: “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001)

Wes Anderson is a director known for bringing together great ensembles, and while “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was in the running, “The Royal Tenenbaums” remains the bar by which his other casts are judged. The film depicts the eponymous extended family, whose three children struggle with failure, as well as their complicated relationships with their father. The cast is a star-studded one, including Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, and narration from Alec Baldwin. But what really makes the cast so remarkable is how much like a real, dysfunctional family they seem; even if their squabbles are larger than life.

#12: “Chicago” (2002)

Though it’s sadly the only musical to make our list, “Chicago” definitely deserves the honor! Velma finds herself in need of the assistance of defense attorney Billy Flynn after she murders her cheating husband. Soon enough however, her place in the spotlight is challenged by Roxie (played by Renée Zellweger), who lands herself in prison for a similar crime. Flynn winds up taking on her case as well, and an unlikely competition ensues as they battle for headlines. The big names in the cast, such as Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and John C. Reilly, all drew award nominations, and the film helped to revive movie musicals in general, with its show-stopping, toe-tapping performances.

#11: “GoodFellas” (1990)

Although director Martin Scorsese has worked with some great ensemble casts recently for films like “The Irishman” and “The Departed,” for our money, his best group of actors has to be in “Goodfellas.” Depicting the rise and fall of gangster Henry Hill, as well as the lives of his family and fellow gangsters, “Goodfellas” is one of cinema’s most celebrated crime films. And while Scorsese’s masterful direction is a large part as to why, the stellar actors bring it all together, from the iconic trio of Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta, to supporting players like Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, and even Samuel L. Jackson.

#10: “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed movies forever with its unprecedented crossovers. However, it hit a new high with this film. When the galactic conqueror Thanos seeks to acquire stones of cosmic power that will enable him to commit genocide on an unimaginable scale, heroes from Earth and elsewhere band together to combat him. Dozens of stars from Marvel’s biggest franchises are brought together for a superhero film of a scale unseen prior to its release. Although not every character gets their due, there are several standout performances, and simply seeing Marvel’s massive cast of characters come together in a single film is mind-boggling.

#9: “12 Angry Men” (1957)

Unquestionably the definitive drama about a jury, “12 Angry Men” depicts the deliberations of a dozen jurors in a murder trial. Nearly the entire runtime is focused on the arguments between the characters about the defendant’s potential guilt or innocence. Since we don’t even learn most of the jurors’ names, the actors’ performances are how they distinguish themselves, and it’s their perspectives and body language that makes the characters feel so real. With heavyweights of the time like Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, and Lee J. Cobb in the cast, sure enough… they deliver timeless performances that people still reference many decades later.

#8: “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

There were plenty of war movies that could have made this list, but while some of them might be superior films, we’d argue that “Saving Private Ryan” has the most impressive cast. The story of a squad’s attempts to rescue a single private during World War II, the movie features big names for the time, like Tom Hanks, but also character actors, like Adam Goldberg and Tom Sizemore. Others would go to make their mark in the future, like Bryan Cranston and Nathan Fillion. And let’s not forget Matt Damon in the title role, one year after the release of “Good Will Hunting”. Steven Spielberg probably could have made this an epic movie without this cast, but it was all the grander for having them!


#7: “Harry Potter” franchise (2001-11)

The tale of the titular teenage wizard’s school years and his fight against evil has enchanted fans the world over. And while the filmmakers did an incredible job of capturing the magic of J. K. Rowling’s world visually, what truly drew people in were the characters, and the actors who brought them to life. When it comes to the cast, it’s probably easier to list the British actors who aren’t in the “Harry Potter” movies! The franchise jumpstarted the careers of its young stars and paired them with some of the most acclaimed thespians Britain’s ever seen. The involvement of these talented performers gave tremendous weight to an already inspiring story, and helped even more people connect with it.

#6: “The Godfather” (1972)

One of the titans of cinema, “The Godfather” is a natural pick for just about any list on the best of anything in movies. Depicting the end of Vito Corleone’s reign as the godfather of his crime family, and the rise of his son Michael as the new one, it’s a tale of family and corruption. Led by powerful performances from Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, the cast also features actors who are now veterans, such as Robert Duvall, James Caan, and Diane Keaton, in important supporting roles. “The Godfather” changed movies, and these actors changed the way a lot of us see acting.

#5: “Ocean’s” trilogy (2001-07)

“Ocean’s Eleven” may be a remake, but its cast is even more stellar than the original! A heist film that follows Danny Ocean’s crew attempting to rob three casinos in one night, “Ocean’s Eleven” has an ensemble cast of colorful actors playing even more colorful criminals. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Carl Reiner, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle…we could go on! All these fantastic actors come together to deliver one of the most entertaining and rewatchable movies ever made, through their great performances and excellent chemistry. It’s really no wonder that the first film received two sequels!

#4: “Pulp Fiction” (1994)

Quentin Tarantino is another director famous for his fantastic ensembles, and “Pulp Fiction” is possibly his finest ever. Chronicling several disastrous, and often bloody, events in the lives of interconnected criminals in LA, “Pulp Fiction”’ is blessed with a phenomenal cast that includes Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, and Christopher Walken, to name a few. Watching such a talented group of performers delivering Tarantino’s trademark heightened dialogue is an absolute delight - and it’s part of what makes some fans consider the film his masterpiece.

#3: “Seven Samurai” (1954)

As tempted as we were to include “The Magnificent Seven” on this list, ultimately we decided to choose the film upon which it is based – “Seven Samurai.” The epic tale of seven rogue samurai hired to protect a village from bandits, this film has spawned countless imitators, but none can match the original. While the exceptional direction by Akira Kurosawa is a large part of it, his cast, which includes some of the most prolific and accomplished actors in Japanese cinema, deserves plenty of credit too. The samurai and villagers’ relationships that grow over the impressive runtime are all played to perfection and will have you feeling very emotional by the movie’s conclusion.

#2: “Star Wars” franchise (1977-)

C’mon – it’s “Star Wars!” This epic space opera franchise about the battle between good and evil has an equally impressive ensemble of actors, whether they appeared in it a long, long time ago, or in a time far, far more recent. It has launched the careers of young stars, like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Daisy Ridley and featured experienced actors, like Alec Guiness, Liam Neeson, and Forest Whitaker, throughout its various sagas. The “Star Wars” universe is vast, but it’s the people in it, and the actors who portray them, that will be with us – always.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“A Fish Called Wanda” (1988)

“Knives Out” (2019)

“Love Actually” (2003)

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)


#1: “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (2001-03)

The epic fantasy trilogy to rule them all, “The Lord of the Rings” follows a band of heroes as they attempt to destroy a magical ring, by venturing right into the lion’s den. Boasting an ensemble cast from across the globe, these films made careers for many of its stars, but the fact that the actors managed to ground such fantastical characters with emotive and passionate performances is what makes them truly special. Furthermore, that so many of them became friends during the long shoot (with some even getting matching tattoos), is a true testament to just how much of themselves they put into this fellowship.
Comments
Send
Why is Infinity War only #10?
the 8 Spiderman Movies also Silverado
Usual Suspects anyone, anyone...?
change infifity war for either endgame or the mcu franchise. endgame had more stars in it.
you left out Murder by Death, the Cannonball Run, John Carpenters The Thing, the Expendables movies and the Fast and the Furious franchise, and the Bond franchise, the Star Trek franchise and instead of Avenger;s Infinity War you should go with Endgame
+ 1 comment(s)