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50 Greatest Ensemble Casts

Jackie Brown (1997)

The Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Robert Forster, Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda, Chris Tucker, Michael Bowen.

Pause The Screen When:
Fonda, De Niro and Jackson share a scene together at Jackson's beach house, as the latter two begin to formulate their business plan. That's as many stars as you ever really get together at any one time.

Stand-Out Star: A dead heat between two of the film's old-stagers, Pam Grier and Robert Forster, whose tentative attraction is at the core of the film's enduring appeal.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

The Cast: Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman.

Pause The Screen When:
The community meeting (pictured above) would be a good spot, gathering as it does, Willis, McDormand, Swinton, Norton and Murray.

Stand-Out Star: As good as the supporting cast are, it's the well-judged chemistry between the two young leads that really grants the movie its heart.

Boogie Nights (1997)

The Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, John C. Reilly, Melora Walters, Philip Baker Hall, Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina.

Pause The Screen When:
The pool party scene has most of the key players in attendance. Or you could always pause it at the end. You know.. at that scene.

Stand-Out Star:
Wahlberg might have launched his big-screen career off the back of this, but Burt Reynolds is the real star, as slippery auteur Jack Horner.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Cast: Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelica Huston, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Alec Baldwin.

Pause The Screen When: Royal's funeral brings the entire family together in a way he never could as a father.

Stand-Out Star:
Hackman is scabrously funny throughout, but Gwyneth Paltrow certainly gives him a run for his money, with a performance of almost unbearable melancholy.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

The Cast: Kim Basinger, Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, James Cromwell, David Strathairn.

Pause The Screen When: Spacey, Pearce and Crowe all get their fight on during the rumble at the police Christmas party.

Stand-Out Star: While Pearce anchors the movie and Spacey snaffles several of its best lines, Russell Crowe is its beating heart, as hard as nails lawman Bud White.

Gosford Park (2001)

The Cast: Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, Kelly Macdonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Ryan Philippe, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Watson, Charles Dance, Tom Hollander.

Pause The Screen When: There are several scenes in which the guests are all gathered together, and several more containing the entirety of the help. There's not much in the way of crossover, which is as it should be, m'lady.

Stand-Out Star: Maggie Smith revels in a role not dissimilar to her turn in Downton Abbey , cutting down her social inferiors (and indeed, her equals) left right and centre.

Magnolia (1999)

The Cast: Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Baker Hall, Jason Robards, Melora Walters, Melinda Dillon, Felicity Huffman, Alfred Molina, Luis Guzman.

Pause The Screen When: Unsurprisingly, a film about such a collection of lost souls doesn't contain too many group shots! So, we'll pick one of the most heartbreaking two-handers in the film, the restaurant scene between John C. Reilly and Melora Waters.

Stand-Out Star:
Tom Cruise subverts his nice-guy persona to deliciously sleazy effect as morally reprehensible life coach, Frank T.J. Mackey.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

The Cast: Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce.

Pause The Screen When: The opening scene in the pressure cooker of the real estate office, where Alec Baldwin's hotshot salesman gives an exceedingly aggressive team-talk on the nature of closing.

Stand-Out Star:
Jack Lemmon's portrayal of crumbling wreck Shelley Levine is a sight to behold, as the wheels gradually begin to fall off the life he's attempted to build for himself.

The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)

The Cast: Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Sean Astin, Ian Holm, Hugo Weaving, Liv Tyler, Bernard Hill, Karl Urban, Cate Blanchett, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee.

Pause The Screen When:
The Council of Elrond would be an apposite moment, with all the Fellowship gathered together for the first time.

Stand-Out Star:
Ian McKellen is perfect as Gandalf, balancing twinkly-eyed benevolence with a fearsome appetite for battle.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

The Cast: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Kathy Burke, Stephen Graham.

Pause The Screen When: Any of Control's early meetings are coated in stardust, with Oldman, Firth, Hurt, Jones and Hinds all eyeing each other with varying degrees of suspicion.

Stand-Out Star: Gary Oldman is superb, earning himself an Oscar nomination for his dialled-down performance as George Smiley.