Hollywood films with an ensemble cast are in vogue for a change

Aug 24, 2014, 09:14 IST | Shakti Shetty

No wonder we watch so many blockbusters nowadays -- that have an array of popular names on the credit roll. Here's a look at such 'heavily-loaded' movies...

Not long ago, having several big names in a Hollywood film was considered a risky proposition. The probability of the star cast overwhelming the movie was too high to be ignored. As a consequence, we rarely came across a feature film which boasted of several A-listers with meaty roles in a single project. However, with the rise and the unprecedented success of the superhero genre in the last decade, ensemble casting is back in fashion. No wonder we watch so many blockbusters nowadays — in fantasy genre or otherwise — that have an array of popular names on the credit roll. hitlist drops names as it points out such ‘heavily-loaded’ movies...

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 

Director: Francis Lawrence
Lowdown: The upcoming third installment in The Hunger Games franchise has Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman on board. Good enough reasons to keep expectations high.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For 

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Lowdown: Sequel to the 2005 film Sin City, this forthcoming crime thriller boasts of an ambitious cast ensemble. Along with the regulars Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Mickey Rourke, the latest recruits include actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Jamie Chung, Ray Liotta, Lady Gaga, Jeremy Piven and Crystal McCahill.

Inherent Vice

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Lowdown: When a dark comedy has a compelling cast of celebrated actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone and Benicio del Toro, the audience expects a masterpiece. And that’s exactly what’s happening with Anderson’s next.


Director: Christopher Nolan
Lowdown: Thanks to the director’s reputation and track record, this is undoubtedly the most awaited Hollywood flick of the year. It features Matthew McConaughey in the leading role along with Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck and Matt Damon.

Guardians of the Galaxy 

Director: James Gunn
Lowdown: With a cast reeling in big-selling stars such as Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Djimon Hounsou, John C Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro and WWE star Dave Batista, this superhero venture has not only earned critical acclaim but also grossed over $435 million across the globe. Not really surprising.

The Expendables 3

Director: Patrick Hughes
Lowdown: The third installation in the ongoing The Expendables series boasts of a splendid cast that includes popular veterans such as Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham. Will the ageing heroes deliver? Wait and watch.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Director: Bryan Singer
Lowdown: It couldn’t have gotten bigger than this, could it? For this mega adaptation of Marvel Comics’ grand body of work, accomplished actors like Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart were signed — and for a good reason.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson
Lowdown: This particular filmmaker is known for signing the grand one for his endeavours. He did something similar with Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel.

A melting pot
As far as star-studded ensembles are concerned, Hollywood in 2013 too saw quite a few ventures from the non-superhero genre...

American Hustle managed to earn 10 Oscar nominations but no gongs despite having Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence on board.

Starring Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt, The Counselor didn’t fare well with the critics although it was a commercial success. 

Now You See Me impressed us thanks to the casting of Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.

August: Osage County made the most of the talents inside one family home. Starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis and Benedict Cumberbatch, it was hard-hitting.

Coming soon
2015 has a list of big banner films with ensemble cast gracing the credit roll.Here’s a few of the most-awaited ones

Fast & Furious 7 stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Lucas Black and Jason Statham.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron stars Robert Downey, Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson.

The remake of The Magnificent Seven stars Liam Neeson, Javier Bardem, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Michael Fassbender, Tom Cruise and Nicholas Cage.

Star Wars VII stars the upcoming John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac along with regulars, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.


Ensemble casting hasn’t always hit the bull’s eye — both commercially as well as critically speaking — in Hollywood. For instance, George Clooney-directed The Monuments Men (co-starring Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Billy Murray) released early this year but failed to impress the critics. 

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