Sometimes the most memorable part of a film is how well the characters actually play off of one another. A certifiably bad movie can still have compelling characters that resonate well with audiences despite shoddy storytelling. A strong core cast is essential in selling any movie, and sometimes a character can become more famous than the films they’re part of.
That said, ensemble films are some of the best examples of how a group of characters can play off one another so well that they carry the film on their shoulders. A good ensemble can save even the worst movies, or they can enhance a good story to something truly phenomenal.
10 The Losers Has An All-Star Cast
2010’s The Losers is a perfect example of an A+ ensemble. With Chris Evans at the forefront before he was Captain America, he was joined by an extremely talented cast. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, and Zoe Saldana make up the squad of CIA Special Forces operatives that are left for dead. Deciding to stick together after suffering the betrayal, the team goes against the organization that left them to die.
This film is by no means phenomenal, but it does have a compelling ensemble that made up for its weak points. This talented group of actors proved that they could make a compelling team.
9 The Incredibles Proves Even Dysfunctional Families Can Thrive
Pixar’s The Incredibles and its phenomenal sequel were both met with box office success and critical acclaim. For many children around the world, The Incredibles was their first introduction to the world of superheroes, and as far as ensembles go, this family of four supers is the cream of the crop.
The lives of the Incredibles are complicated. Supers have been deemed illegal, so the family must learn to manage their own abilities while blending into normal society. They face common struggles of puberty, family drama, and strained relationships, making them relatable to everyday people, but the most compelling part is that they always find a way to come together. The Parr family is stronger together and fans loved them for it.
8 Without Harry, Ron, & Hermione, The Harry Potter Movies Would’ve Flopped
It’s hard to think about iconic ensembles without thinking of Harry Potter’s Big Three, aka Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. While the films lacked consistency in quality, especially once the source material got longer around Book 4, The Goblet of Fire, one thing always stayed consistent. The trio of best friends kept pushing the narrative forward.
Harry, with his best friends Ron and Hermione, took on a basilisk, Death Eaters, Draco Malfoy’s latest exploits, and the Dark Lord himself. Together, they saved the Wizarding World, and they still managed to feel like authentic friends every step of the way. They fought, they cried, and they laughed like best friends ought to, and even when the story grew convoluted, these three kept fans hopeful.
7 Pitch Perfect Was A Surprisingly Heartfelt Ensemble Film
When Pitch Perfect first hit theaters in 2012, the comedy musical didn’t look like it would amount to one of the best modern ensemble movies out there. Following the story of the Barden Bellas a cappella group as they prepare for a singing competition, this film turned a group of young female singers into a found family dynamic determined to pull through to the end.
With Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick at the forefront of this surprising story of teamwork, Pitch Perfect was as hilarious as it was moving. By the end of the movie, audiences were cheering for Barden Bellas‘ victory.
6 Ghostbusters Created A Blueprint For Good Ensembles
Ghostbusters is one of the most recognizable movies of the 1980s. As a comedy horror based on the idea of a group of guys coming together to fight ghosts, it became a smashing success, a cult classic, and a movie that spawned a franchise, including an all-female cast reboot and 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which connects directly to the original film.
Due to the smashing success of Ghostbusters and the on-screen chemistry between the members of the ghost-hunting crew, the movie has become an example of how to make a successful ensemble film with compelling characters and meaningful relationships.
5 The Outsiders‘ Story Still Resonates With People Today
Based on S. E. Hinton’s novel, the 1983 film The Outsiders has stood the test of time. The story focuses on Darrel, the eldest brother of Sodapop and Ponyboy, as he attempts to care for his brothers after the death of their parents.
Drawing on themes of brotherhood, cliques, and social classism, The Outsiders is a powerful story that focuses on teens who aren’t what society dictates they should be. This novel and film were revolutionary for young adult fiction, and the film also starred some early talents that went on to monumental success, like Tom Cruise and Patrick Swayze.
4 Knives Out Is A Fun Twist On An Ensemble
Knives Out is a whodunit film that delivers a twist within a twist within a twist. It may not be what audiences would look for in a great ensemble film, but the cast and how they interact with one another speak for themselves. During the investigation into the death of Harlan Thrombey, the rest of Harlan’s family is put through the wringer as P.I. Benoit Blanc tries to discover who is responsible.
Although this film focuses on Daniel Craig’s performance as Benoit, the entire family makes up a compelling and engagingly dysfunctional ensemble. With talents like Chris Evans and Jamie Lee Curtis, it’s difficult not to be completely captivated.
3 The Avengers Are The Most Recognizable Superhero Team For A Reason
MCU’s Phase 1 built up its core group of superheroes so that in 2012 The Avengers could officially assemble for the first time on the silver screen. Since then, fans have flocked to the theaters to watch these heroes grow, adopt new members, and face off against some of the most dangerous threats the universe has ever seen.
What makes this group so compelling is how different they all are. Some of them don’t even like one another or get along all the time, like Iron Man and Captain America’s often hostile relationship. Still, they pull together when the going gets tough. Circumstance brings these individuals together, and they come out unified… Usually.
2 Ocean’s Eleven Brings Accomplices Together
Ocean’s Eleven is a heist movie about Danny Ocean and his ten accomplices (hence, eleven). This film turned out to be tremendously popular and even spawned a trilogy with Twelve and Thirteen. 2018 even saw an all-female crew in Ocean’s 8 that was met with high praise from fans. When it comes to heist films, Ocean’s Eleven is a must-watch.
What makes these films so good, though, is the group of accomplices. At the center of every good heist is a good crew that can pull it off. Without coordination and a strong sense of trust, there would be no chance that Danny and his crew could pull off their scheme.
1 Scooby-Doo Is The Ultimate Crime-Fighting Gang
Ever since the premiere of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969, Scooby and the gang have been at the pinnacle of ensemble casts. Best friends (and sometimes lovers) and their dog travel together, stumble upon a mystery, and uncover the culprit behind whatever crime is being covered up. The premise has always been simple, but that’s why it works.
Scooby-Doo has spawned countless television shows, spin-offs, animated films, and live-action films. In fact, Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma have been in just about every form of media known to man. The stories aren’t always good, and some flop while others shine, but one thing always stays consistent; this group of crime fighters works because their bond is so strong, it’s hard to imagine them separated. In fact, every time they are separated, they still find their way back together.
NEXT: 10 Best Teen-Centric Horror Films