The best ensemble movies feature an incredibly talented cast of actors and actresses, so much so that the cast overshadows everything else about the film. When you ask someone to name their favorite, greatest ensemble films ever made, they'll almost always start talking about the cast members of the movie - not the actual storyline. Many of the films listed here are among the best movies of all time, not surprisingly, so be sure to vote for your favorites, add any ensemble films that are missing and re-rank this list in any order you want.
A truly wonderful ensemble film is a team effort. Yes, you have major celebrities sharing the spotlight, with each giving a phenomenal individual performance. Put them together, however, and you've got the very essence of a brilliant ensemble movie. Examples of this include Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, Reservoir Dogs and the outstanding legal drama 12 Angry Men. And this list includes many of director Robert Altman's best ensemble films: MASH, Gosford Park, and Short Cuts to name a few.
Given that the greatest ensemble films often star some of the greatest actors and actresses ever, is it any wonder that so many listed here are also among the very best Oscar-winning movies, too? From The Deer Hunter to The Departed, the ensemble casts of these listed films captivated us with their brilliance.
Comedy films aren't excluded from any list of excellent ensemble cast movies, either. Consider the amazing casts of the comedies The Royal Tenenbaums, Best in Show, and The Breakfast Club, for example. So you see, the best ensemble movies are a diverse mix from all different kinds of movie genres, but they all have one thing in common: wonderful acting and multiple characters that drive the storyline in the best way possible.
When you watch any of the films below you'll instantly know the answer to the question: what is an ensemble cast? They're big, eclectic, and extremely talented. Vote up your favorites and vote down any that you think other fans should skip.
Directed by: Francis Ford CoppolaThe Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Mario Puzo. The aging patriarch (Marlon Brando) of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of... more
Directed by: John HughesThe Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos,... more
Directed by: Frank DarabontThe Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Adapted from the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and... more
Directed by: Steven SoderberghOcean's Eleven is a 2001 American comedy heist film and the remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name. The 2001 film was directed by Steven Soderbergh and features an ensemble cast including... more
Directed by: Quentin TarantinoPulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The lives of two mob hitmen (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta), a boxer (Bruce Willis), a gangster's wife (Uma Thurman),... more
Directed by: Peter JacksonThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 epic fantasy drama film directed by Peter Jackson based on the second and third volumes of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is the... more
Directed by: Steven SpielbergSaving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film directed by Steven Spielberg. Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is notable for its graphic and realistic... more
Directed by: Sidney Lumet12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. Written and co-produced by Rose himself and directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells the... more
Directed by: Martin ScorseseThe Departed is a 2006 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, and a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello (Jack Nicholson) plants... more
Directed by: Bryan SingerThe Usual Suspects is a 1995 German-American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie. It stars Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del Toro,... more
Directed by: Martin ScorseseGoodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. The... more
Directed by: George LucasStar Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars franchise, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter... more
Directed by: Rob ReinerThe Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic comedy fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner. It was adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name. The story... more
Directed by: Quentin TarantinoReservoir Dogs is a 1992 American ensemble crime film that depicts the events before and after a botched diamond heist. The film was the debut of director and writer Quentin Tarantino, and stars... more
Directed by: Joss WhedonMarvel's The Avengers is a 2012 American superhero film directed by Joss Whedon, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team. Earth's mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if... more
Directed by: Francis Ford CoppolaThe Outsiders is a 1983 American drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by S. E. Hinton. The film was released on March 25, 1983. Jo Ellen Misakian,... more
Directed by: Christopher NolanThe Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics character, Batman. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and... more
Directed by: John SturgesThe Magnificent Seven is an American western film directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. The picture is an Old West-style remake of Akira Kurosawa's... more
Directed by: Rob ReinerStand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella The... more
Directed by: Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, David ZuckerAirplane! is a 1980 American satirical disaster comedy film directed and written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker and released by Paramount Pictures. It stars Robert Hays and Julie... more
Directed by: Francis Ford CoppolaThe Godfather Part II is a 1974 American epic crime film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a screenplay co-written with Mario Puzo, starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Partially... more
Directed by: Herbert RossSteel Magnolias is a 1989 American comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross, based on the 1987 play by Robert Harling. A young beautician (Daryl Hannah), newly arrived in a small Louisiana town,... more
Directed by: Amy HeckerlingFast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American coming-of-age teen comedy film written by Cameron Crowe, adapted from his 1981 book of the same name. As a freelance writer for Rolling Stone magazine,... more
Directed by: Robert AldrichThe Dirty Dozen is a 1967 film directed by Robert Aldrich, released by MGM, and starring Lee Marvin. The picture was filmed in England and features an ensemble supporting cast including Ernest... more
Directed by: Christopher NolanInception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Elliot Page, Joseph... more