Every year, the Screen Actors Guild gives out an award for the most "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture." It's sort of SAG's equivalent of the Academy Award for Best Picture, and in many years the two honors line up perfectly. But it is also a distinctly important recognition on its own. Some movies have standout lead and isolated supporting actors, while others are more notable for having all-star casts where everyone is equally phenomenal. That might be the case for the new Ridley Scott film The Counselor, which features among its major players Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt and Rosie Perez.
Great ensembles don't have to be so balanced. Another new film featuring a carousel of stars also including Fassbender and Pitt is 12 Years a Slave, which definitely revolves around a main role played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, and we figure the acclaimed picture is the best bet for this year's top SAG award for its cast. And great ensembles aren't only found in prestigous Oscar-caliber movies. Look at how well The Avengers succeeds in juggling a number of superheroes at once. This year's Fast & Furious 6 also has a terrific ensemble cast, even if it won't be winning any prizes for the fact. In interviews, director Justin Lin has even credited ensemble film king Robert Altman (Gosford Park) as an influence on that latest Fast and Furious sequel.
When considering the best movies of all time with ensemble casts, Altman's work is up there, as are works by directors preferring multiple characters like Wes Anderson (The Royal Tennenbaums), Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven). Of course, we can't dismiss the guilty pleasures, whether rom-coms like Love Actually and New Year's Eve or madcap comedies like The Cannonball Run and Clue or action, adventure, superhero and disaster flicks like The Expendables, X-Men, The Lord of the Rings, The Dark Knight, The Poseidon Adventure and Independence Day.
Which ensemble movie cast do you pick as the best of all time?