★ Movie Treat★
Ensemble dramas aren’t the easiest types of movies to film. Too many diverse dynamics between big personalities could go very wrong. But if the cast shares sizzling chemistry, the movie becomes a joyride instead. A good ensemble film is clearly a team effort. Each actor takes their turn to shine but is still capable of playing a supporting role when it’s another actor’s turn in the spotlight. Here are five wonderfully enjoyable ensemble movies.
Ocean's Eight (2018)
It’s about time someone made a female heist movie, and no movie (heist of otherwise) could get as good as Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett headlining it. There are eight big personalities in Ocean's Eight. And thanks to the nature of the story, with each of them having a speciality and given very clear pockets of time to shine, they complement instead of competing with one another. Bullock and Blanchett’s chemistry comes so naturally, much like George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s in the earlier Ocean series. Then we have Anne Hathaway, who put her comedic talents on full display. Each character plays off on the actress’s strength. Helena Bonham Carter plays the quirky designer Rose Well, and we all know Bonham Carter’s style in real life leans towards being quirky as well. Rihanna, a big-shot singer in real life, looks at ease as a ghetto-ish hacker, while newcomer Awkwafina holds her own as the quick-handed pick-pocket, Constance. No one is intimated by the Oscar-winning actresses (Bullock, Blanchett and Hathaway), and the A-listers don’t overshadow the younger ones.
In fact, the actresses looked like they had a ball of a time filming the movie, and it shows. Just take a look at their cast interviews and you get the idea:
Did you know: Among the eight of them, the cast has won four Oscars, two Emmys, nine Grammys, six Golden Globes, five BAFTAs, and 10 SAGs.
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
This is the first of the Ocean movies that started off the Ocean film series. A remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name, it features big names like Clooney, Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle and more on a grand heist plan to rob three big casinos in Las Vegas. The rapport between Damon, Pitt and Clooney is so natural and easy that it makes you feel like you’ve intruded on fast friends making their ambitious thieving plans. Pitt and Clooney, in particular, finish each other sentences and make it look so effortless. The result is a smooth, entertaining movie that you’re likely to watch repeatedly.
Did you know: to prepare for the movie, director Steven Soderbergh requested for the actors to hang out on the set. They ended up crowding around Carl Reiner (Saul) most of the time to listen to his stories, Reiner, 79 when he filmed the movie, is a legendary comedian who has enjoyed success as a comic actor, director, producer and even as a recording artist.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy and more take us on an unusual ride into the deep recesses of our sleep to explore an unusual world our consciousness could only dream of. Under the mastery of Christopher Nolan, DiCaprio leads a team of “dream catchers”, who had the uphill task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. Sleek, sharp and surreal, the ensemble cast plays their part with precision, bringing across the hard-to-fathom concept to life, and leaves us wondering and yearning for more at the end. Did the top fall eventually? Was it all still a dream?
Did you know: Much like time travel stories, Inception’s story is tricky business. At every step of the way, logic needs to be worked in to ensure the storyline makes sense. In all, it took ten years for Nolan to write the screenplay for this movie.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
This could be the ensemble movie of ALL ensemble movies. There are in all, 76 characters in Avengers: Infinity War. This is hardly surprising, as the movie is a culmination of 10 years’ worth of storytelling over 18 movies. The pacing is even, giving each superhero their turn to shine and put their power to good use. Sure, more attention is paid on the original Avengers (they are also the ones who didn’t turn to dust), but newcomers like Okoye (who gave a hilarious disgusted look at Bruce Bana who can’t get his Hulk out), Shuri (who patiently picks the mind stone from Vision) and even Spider-man's (Tom Holland) bestie, Ned (“We’re all going to die!") have their turn in the spotlight. The result is a balanced movie with the right amount of action, story and humour all rolled into one.
Extended Reading: You Look Familiar: The Avengers: Infinity War Cast.
Did you know: Natalie Portman, who starred as Dr Jane Foster in the first two movies, declined to appear in any more Marvel films. When she signed on for Thor: Dark World in 2013, she was unhappy with the decision to replace director Patty Jenkins with Alan Taylor, for that reason, she did not appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Winner of Best Ensemble award in several film awards, Spotlight brought together a team of dynamic actors who played real-life characters and looked the part. The movie stars Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery, Liev Schreiber, and more. As a team of investigative journalists tasked with the tall order to expose the wrongdoings of the Catholic Church, the actors’ conviction is intense and the bond they have with each other comes through onscreen. Spotlight deservedly won Best Picture at the 2016 Academy Awards, not just because the storyline was gripping and the script (which won best original screenplay) was superb, it was also because the actors poured their heart and soul into their roles.
Did you know: Before he filmed every scene, Mark Ruffalo, who plays Michael Rezendes, got the real Michael Rezendes to say his lines for him.
★ Movie Treat★
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