We all know that it takes a village to make a great movie and luckily, 2012 had its share of wonderfully talented ensembles that made for some fantastic films. So, I decided to compile my own list of what I consider the best ensembles, top to bottom, of films over the last year. As a SAG voter, I will get to choose between the casts of The Artist, Bridesmaids, The Help, Midnight in Paris and The Descendants for Best Ensemble. Interestingly, only 2 of those films make my list… and I wonder if you can guess which ones… With that said, take a look at my choices for the Best Casts of 2012.
First Honorable Mentions…
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: a fierce and ferocious Rooney Mara, a sexy and introspective Daniel Craig, a creepy fantastic Stellan Skarsgaard plus solid support from Robin Wright, Joely Richardson, Christopher Plummer and more
Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen’s best film in years gave us Owen Wilson‘s best performance everywhere plus a luminous Marion Cottilard and a strong group of vets like Kathy Bates, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody, Kurt Fuller, Allison Pill and Corey Stoll
My Week with Marilyn: while Michelle Williams is deservedly gaining the most applause for her brilliant turn as Marilyn Monroe, the rest of the cast was tremendous starting with likely Oscar nominee Kenneth Branaugh and then Eddie Redmayne, Julia Ormond, Emma Watson, Toby Jones, Dominic Purcell and Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench
Now onto the top tier…
Top Ten Film Ensembles of 2012:
10: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: while I didn’t love the film, the cast was pretty flawless. Gary Oldman’s stoic and simmering lead agent anchored a cast of great Brits including Benedict Cumberpatch (my have in the film), Toby Jones (again), Christian McKay, Tom hardy, Cirian Hinds and Oscar winner Colin Firth.
9. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: with a wonderful central performance from newcomer Thomas Horn and some beautiful work from Oscar winner Sandra Bullock and Oscar nominee Viola Davis, this 9/11 tribute film really socked me in the gut. Plus Max Von Sydow, Jeffrey Wright, John Goodman, Zoe Caldwell and Tom Hanks were great, not to mention a ton of small character actors that gave weight and authenticity to New York City. (This is something the film did great unlike The Descendants which cast non-actors for authenticity reasons in Hawaii and it backfired by taking you out of the scene with their poor performances).
8. 50/50: I sure hope this hilarious and heartbreaking film gets some Oscar traction next month because it deserves it. Joseph Gordon Levitt (a Golden Globe nominee) would make my final five Best Actor contenders for his triumphant performance as a young man fighting cancer. Plus the film gave us Seth Rogan’s best performance ever and great turns by Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Phillip Baker Hall, Matt Frewer and Independent Spirit nominee Anjelica Huston.
7. The Ides of March: this political thriller had so many great elements~ a great script, strong direction and a pitch perfect cast led by Golden Globe nominee Ryan Gosling. Standouts in the supporting cast for me were Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a surprisingly great Evan Rachel Wood. Also delivering nice turns were the always reliable Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright and director/star George Clooney.
6. Rampart: this dark and edgy thriller gave us a no holds barred brilliant turn by Woody Harrelson as a mess of a corrupt cop. But it also gave us a magnificent supporting cast with Brie Larson, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon and an especially dynamic Robin Wright as the women mixed up in his life. Plus there was Ben Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Audra MacDonald, Ned Beatty, and Ice Cube.
5. Crazy Stupid Love: the best romantic comedy of the year was hilarious, original and refreshing and boasted a flawless ensemble of cinema pros like Steve Carrell, Marisa Tomei (again), Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon, Emma Stone and the sexiest man on film in all of 2012, Ryan Gosling.
4. Margin Call: in this fast paced and fascinating thriller about the financial crisis of the past few years, it was hard to pick just who stood out the most. I’d give Oscar winner Kevin Spacey the slight edge, but hey it also featured Demi Moore’s best work in ages and a wily and wonderfully corrupt Jeremy Irons… not to mention Zachary Quinto showed strong leading man potential, Penn Badgely in his best role to date, and great work from Paul Bettany, Mary McDonnell, Simon Baker and Stanley Tucci.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2: the final chapter in the Harry Potter franchise was by far the best. The film was magnificent on every level and the cast was just perfect. They all rose to the occasion and we will miss them tremendously. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Gint all grew into wonderful actors over the year and I’m sure the great supporting cast of talents like Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Jason Isaacs, Julie Walters and every British luminary around helped inform their performances. But I have to single out Alan Rickman’s Oscar worthy turn as Snape as the film’s highlight. Seriously, nominate him now Academy voters!
2. Bridesmaids: the funniest movie of the year also gave us one of the best female ensembles in ages. Golden Globe nominee Kristin Wiig was a terrific ring leader for this riotous crew including Emmy nominee Rose Byrne, Wendi McLoven-Covey, Maya Rudolph, Ellie Kemper and the standout~ SAG nominee, and soon to be Oscar nominee if you ask me, Melissa McCarthy. There were a few other funny guys in it too I have to recognize~ Jon Hamm, Chris O’Dowd, and Ben Falcone. Cant wait for a sequel!
1. The Help: I don’t think it’s a surprise that this incredibly talented and transcendent group of women are at the top of the list. (Hey, when was the last time two primarily female ensembles anchored two of the best movies of the year? Fantastic!… and it’s about time…) Led by surefire Oscar nominees Viola Davis (heartbreaking and resplendent), Octavia Spencer (fiery, hilarious and explosive) and Jessica Chastain (who gave a million amazing performances this year), the women in this film left an indelible mark. I mean you could also make a case for nominating Emma Stone (again), Cicely Tyson, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek and wondrously evil Bryce Dallas Howard. You know which film is getting my vote for the SAG Best Ensemble!