These were the films that really stood out to me to have several actors in various roles who were all hitting their marks perfectly.
10) Mad Max: Fury Road
Notably: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Riley Keough
I had singled out Theron and Hoult already, but another film where the whole cast did a great job. Even Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who I assumed had no talent after seeing her in the third Transformers film. She proved that she’s grown a lot since then.
Notably: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Lebron James, John Cena, Vanessa Bayer, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn
Good use of talent in supporting roles. Especially Lebron, who came out of nowhere. And Tilda Swinton? That was a crazy performance I didn’t see coming. Excellent ensemble. And Colin Quinn gave a performance I never expected either.
8) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay pt 2
Notably: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizbeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Hunger Games has always had one of the best ensembles of actors, and they proved it again with their final film. There’s some excellent work in here, despite being a big budget blockbuster.
7) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Notably: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Another film made stronger through its actors. Great choices for newbies, and it was great seeing returning faces. Harrison Ford has only gotten better over the years, and his wiser and older Han Solo made the film that much better.
6) Straight Outta Compton
Notably: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr, Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti
Sometimes unknowns have a hard time breaking into acting categories, but this is really a film where we’ll all be looking back and seeing the film they all started in, much like Boyz In The Hood. Hopefully these actors will see big things in their future.
5) The Big Short
Notably: Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Karen Gillan
It’s hard to choose just one actor from this film, because no one actor seems featured over the other. It is a true ensemble film, from the big names to the smaller names, everyone contributes to the story. Specifically, I really enjoyed the scenes with John Magaro and Finn Wittrock, despite them not really being the focus of the story, or nearly as big as their costars.
Notably: Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, Louie CK, Michael Stuhlbarg, David James Elliot, Alan Tudyk, Richard Portnow, John Goodman, Stephen Root, Elle Fanning
There were so many great supporting turns here, from Mirren, to John Goodman (perfectly used), and even David James Elliot who was unexpectedly excellent as John Wayne. Who knew that JAG could actually act?
3) The Hateful Eight
Notably: Samuel L Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Demian Bichir, Kurt Russell, Channing Tatum, Bruce Dern
Tarantino films always have a great ensemble, and this was no different. I already recognized Leigh and Goggins separately, but they all did great work and deserve their time in the sun.
Notably: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian D’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Billy Crudup, Jamey Sheridan
Another film where there really is no lead, and everyone is doing great work. So glad to see Broadway actor Brian D’Arcy James in a major role, especially in this company.
1) The Martian
Notably: Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Sebastian Stan, Kristin Wiig, Donald Glover, Benedict Wong, Mackenzie Davis, Aksel Hennie, Sean Bean
Probably the film that was helped the most by its amazing ensemble. The scenes without Damon were amazing, and worked in large part to the large ensemble who each provided their own worth to the film. Even generally comedic actors like Glover and Wiig were really good in their roles. For me, The Martian had the best ensemble of the year.
That leaves me with my countdown of the best films of the year.