Top acting talent can do wonders for a film. A big name can elevate an otherwise average flick and can make a good film Oscar-worthy. One can only imagine then, what bringing together an all-star cast can do. Here we take a look at, and celebrate, some of the biggest and best ensemble casts we’ve ever seen in movies and ask the question: can there be too much of a good thing?
The Grand Budapest Hotel
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Director Wes Anderson is a rising auteur who has made a name for himself for his off-beat, quirky and affecting set design and storytelling. Anderson uses a familiar roster of stars that have been with him since his early days, with big names like Bill Murray and Owen Wilson becoming synonymous with the director’s work overtime. 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel continues this noble tradition but manages to go one better than previous outings. With a cast that reads like a who’s who of modern Hollywood, The Grand Budapest Hotel serves as a platform for Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Adrien Brody, Jude Law and Ralph Fiennes. A truly staggering amount of talent is packed into its 100 minute runtime. The plot is a playful take on the murder mystery genre associated with the work of writers like Agatha Christie. It sees Ralph Fiennes’ character Gustave H., the concierge of the titular hotel, wrongly framed for murder. In seeking to prove his innocence he teams up with a lobby boy named Zero Moustafa, played by Moritz Hepper, to uncover the truth of the unfolding mystery they are embroiled in.
A reboot of an even earlier 1960s ensemble film featuring the legendary Rat Pack, director Steven Soderbergh brought the plot right up to date for a new generation and gave rise to one of the most successful and well-regarded movie franchises of the past 20 years. Sequels Ocean’s 12 and 13 and the all-female spin-off Ocean’s 8 all followed, walking in the footsteps of the winning formula set by this 2001 classic. The recipe was simple – bring together an all-star cast of Hollywood royalty as a roguish gang of con artists and thieves aiming to pull off an audacious casino heist of $160 million, all set against the opulent backdrop of the Las Vegas strip. This film oozes class with arguably the most stellar line-up of any casino movie, and its playful, inventive narrative gives each performer room to shine in their character’s unique roles. Any film that could bring together the star-power of Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and George Clooney would be worthy of a spot in our list, but Oceans also manages to cram in Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Bernie Mac into the cunning crew. Accordingly, this film has aged like a fine wine and remains the best-reviewed in the series.
Every child of the 1980s longed for a collaboration such as we bear witness to in 2010’s The Expendables. In bringing together some of the biggest action movie stars of the past 30 years, all the film had to do in order to succeed was feature an appropriate ratio of explosions and ass-kicking. That it manages to be a competent film in and of itself, with compelling and memorable action scenes, excellently choreographed fights and hilarious dialogue ensures its place in the canon of action movie greats. Directed by and starring Sylvester Stallone, it brings together his old Rocky IV antagonist Dolph Lundgren with kung fu legend Jet Li, rising star Jason Statham and old guard mainstay, Mickey Rourke. To round off the squad, they are joined by former NFL linebacker Terry Crews, UFC champion Randy Couture and WWE legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. There are even delightful cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger to round off the action-movie hall of fame. The Expendables gave rise to a slew of sequels that see Willis and Schwarzenegger return alongside Chuck Norris, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Which are your favourite ensemble movies? Let us know in the comments below.
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