Thursday, July 7, 2011

'Network' and Great Ensemble Casts

Having watched Sidney Lumet's Network last night it got me thinking about great ensemble casts. In Network Peter Finch, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Ned Beatty, Robert Duvall and Beatrice Straight all give fantastic performances. While, I wasn't blown away by the film, I was still impressed by the cast. A Separation is another recent example of a fine cast at work. But what makes a great 'ensemble' cast? Is it weaving a host of supporting characters together, played competently by a recognised cast (Robert Altman comes to mind), or having a smaller number of central characters, each exceptionally played by the actors? In addition to Network and A Separation here are a few other great ensembles that spring to mind. I no doubt have forgotten a heap, so let me know in the comments any others that you want to recognise:

Quentin Tarantino usually attracts a brilliant ensemble - Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds

The Coen Brothers too - Miller's Crossing, Fargo and No Country for Old Men

Hard to leave out Boogie Nights and Magnolia from Paul Thomas Anderson

The Royal Tenenbaums 

12 Angry Men

The Usual Suspects

Glengarry Glen Ross

The Departed

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest



The Godfather

Saving Private Ryan

The Social Network


  1. I just finished Network...what a film!
    I agree with all these films.

  2. NETWORK might be one of my very favourite films, and the cast is a huge part of that.

    One film that instantly springs to mind when I think of an ensemble cast is CON AIR. It’s a fantastically fun action pic with a ton of great actors having a blast.

    Also, I'd definitely include Christopher Nolan's BATMAN films, as well as INCEPTION.

  3. @ Nikhat - It was certainly a tour-de-force for the fantastic cast! Thanks for the comment Nikhat!

    @ Tom - Yeah, Con Air is one of my favourite blockbuster action films. Always up for watching that one. DOTM is full of (some) fine actors not having a blast :-p. I thought about The Dark Knight and Inception too. Their fine casts certainly give them a lift.

  4. This is a great idea for a post Andy, off the top of my head I thought of The Wild Bunch, Cool Hand Luke, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and The Towering Inferno, which might be a cheesy disaster movie but it does boast an incredible ensemble.
    My favourite ensemble of more recent years was Hurlyburly.

  5. Thanks Paul. I did leave out some of those classic such as The Maginificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape, but they are definitive ensemble casts. Hurlyburly is a film I haven't heard of. I shall seek it out. Thanks for the comment!