5 Films with the Best Ensemble Cast That Will Give You a Lesson or Two on Casting

When asked why you love a certain film, we always go with the plot and script reasoning. Or that the cinematography was astounding or the direction was just one for the books. Rarely do we mention that it’s because our favorite actor is in it and we just really want to see him spit fire in the overrated movie franchise he’s appeared in five years in a row.

It’s a card we rarely pull when it comes to what makes a film worth sitting through, but truth be told, sometimes, the ensemble cast of a film is what draws a large audience in. In some instances, it’s the only thing that makes the film worth watching. But a lot of times, the talented cast and how they complement each other is what makes a movie a masterpiece.

5 Films with the Best Ensemble Cast

Here are five films with the best ensemble cast, they make the film tenfold greater. Thes films’ casting directors know exactly what they were doing, and perhaps, you can take inspiration from their work as you prepare for your next film.

1. The Departed (2006)

The Departed

Rarely do we see two Academy Award for Best Actor winners, a Golden Globe for Best Actor winner, and two Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series winners appear in the same film directed by one of the best directors in the world of filmmaking, but The Departed gave us exactly that. Starring Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, and Alec Baldwin, The Departed will always be remembered as that 2006 crime drama film where the industry’s best gathered. And that’s thanks to the film’s casting director, Ellen Lewis.

Loosely based on a real-life gangster and his encounters with the FBI, The Departed gained recognition for the direction and the performance of its cast. It went on to win several awards and nominations including the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese. DiCaprio and Nicholson went on to receive Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards from the Austin Film Critics. Further proving their one-of-a-kind chemistry, the whole cast won three awards for Best Ensemble (Central Ohio Film Critics, National Board of Review, and Satellite Awards).

2. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction

If it’s crime film we’re talking about, Pulp Fiction would always be at the top of every Top 10 list. Besides the fact that it is directed by someone who’s known for films that are “focused” and have plot development that’s hard to overlook, Pulp Fiction boasts an ensemble of actors that gave brilliant performances, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

It’s been more than two decades since it was released, but Pulp Fiction remains one of the films that have an ensemble we thought would never pull through but became a reality—and we have casting directors Ronnie Yeskel and Gary Zuckerbrod to thank for that. Featuring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, and Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction has secured a spot on several AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies lists and it’s easy to see why.

3. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean's Eleven

Definitely one of the films with the best ensemble cast, Ocean’s Eleven remains legendary even when a lot of other more recent films tried to strip it of its glory. Debra Zane was tasked to direct the casting for the 2001 film, and she obviously knew what she was doing. She was able to assemble a cast of actors that work very well together, the film wouldn’t be the same had one of them pulled out.

Ocean’s Eleven features George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts, and all four of them gave a career-defining performance, a portrayal that will never be forgotten. Now those names alone are enough to have people lining up to buy tickets to its premiere.

4. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan

Another film on the list with Matt Damon in it but this time, he’s with an actor that is basically one of the pillars of the acting industry—Tom Hanks. Hanks is astonishing in this epic war film, but the film wouldn’t have been worth sitting through if it weren’t for how perfectly his acting complemented with that of other actors like Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Adam Goldberg, and Vin Diesel. This is what makes Denise Chamian, the film’s casting director, a force to reckon with when it comes to casting.

5. The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight

Since the first one in 2005, we’ve all seen three Batman movies grace the big screen. Now they are equally great, but there’s something about the 2008 film that gives it an edge over the rest—its ensemble cast. Directed by Christopher Nolan with John Papsidera as the casting director, The Dark Knight rewrote the future of superhero films. With an iconic performance from Heath Ledger as the Joker, which earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and an unforgettable Batman portrayal courtesy of Christian Bale, it does not take too many words to explain why this Batman movie is still the best among the rest.