Top Five… Ensembles
Everyone loves a good ensemble cast. It give us all the chance to shout: ‘Hey! I know that guy! And that guy! And that other guy was in something too!’ In his stunning debut piece for Ross v Ross, English Bob guides us through the best acting groups in movie history.
5. True Romance
Only something like a Tarantino project contains the appeal to get big names to lay their egos at the door for ensemble and even cameo roles. You could realistically place a number of Tarantino efforts on this list in good conscience, but let’s pick True Romance, which despite being directed by Tony Scott crackles with a typically fast-paced script from the great man and corrals the wide-ranging talents of (deep breath) Christian Slater, Dennis Hopper, Patricia Arquette, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken and Samuel L Jackson (phew!).
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
Comedy cliques are nothing new, and the last decade has seen countless outings of varying quality from the group comprised of Stiller, Wilson, Vaughn and Ferrell. The Royal Tenenbaums is possibly the best though, as Ben Stiller and Luke and Owen Wilson are joined by veteran Bill Murray and straight men/women Gene Hackman, Angelica Huston, Danny Glover and Gwyneth Paltrow, who all hit the right notes in this quirky black comedy.
3. Ocean’s Eleven
Before this franchise became a complete caricature of itself, this Steven Soderbergh remake of the Rat Pack classic was notable because it gave the appearance that its all-star cast would have been happy to work for free given the opportunity to hang out and shoot the shit in Vegas. Kings of cool Clooney and Pitt lead the way as Matt Damon, Elliot Gould, Andy Garcia and co put on a show that at the time was endearing for all the implied in-jokes and cameos – although Don Cheadle’s accent takes some getting past. Unfortunately the subsequent films have tarnished Eleven, but I suppose James Caan’s kid and Ben Affleck’s brother need someone to give them work every now and then.
I always knew this espionage caper had a great cast (Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd and Ben Kingsley), but until watching again recently I had forgotten the presence of David Strathairn and River Phoenix in one of his last roles. It’s refreshing to see the likes of Poitier show off his comic timing with some Punch and Judy exchanges with Ackroyd, while Kingsley porks it up superbly as villainous Cosmo and Redford is his usual charismatic self.
1. The Great Escape
A who’s who of who’s huge from the 1960s, director John Sturges grouped together a host of leading men and soon-to-be leading men from both sides of the Atlantic in a film that cemented the iconic status of rising star Steve McQueen. The story of the Allied escape from a German POW camp brought together Brits Richard Attenborough (already nearly 20 years a headline act), Donald Pleasance and Man From UNCLE David McCallum and US stars James Garner, James Coburn and Charlie Bronson, fresh off his and McQueen’s breakout in the Magnificent Seven (which almost deserves a place on this list in its own right), for a piece of escapism that continues to delight audiences stuffed with Christmas dinner.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ENSEMBLES?