1. The Counsellor (2013)
Who’s in it? Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz
Written by novelist Cormac McCarthy, Ridley Scott’s latest film shares a lot of DNA with No Country for Old Men (which was based on a McCarthy novel). It involves a cross-border drug deal gone wrong, a killer with unique way of dispatching his victims, and Javier Bardem sporting an incredible barnet. It also boasts a star studded cast led by man of the moment Michael Fassbender.
2. Ocean’s Eleven (2001):
Who’s in it? Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Elliot Gould, Andy Garcia, Carl Reiner
The high water mark for star-studded blockbuster. Having directed TWO Oscar nominated films and won Best Director for Traffic just the year before, Indie King Steven Soderbergh was able to pick up this cast of Hollywood A-Listers for a fraction of their usual asking price. Instead of delivering a bloated, over-starred blockbuster, Soderbergh was able to craft a tight heist movie that set the standard for years to come. Sadly, Ocean’s Twelve fell afoul of just about every pitfall that the original managed to avoid and it ended up being a self-congratulatory mess.
3. Dogma (1999)
Who’s in it? Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Alan Rickman, George Carlin, Jason Lee, Linda Fiorentino
After Kevin Smith proved to critics and audiences that he was becoming a ‘mature filmmaker’ with the surprisingly sober Chasing Amy, actors were lining up to appear in his next film, Dogma. An ostensibly shaggy movie that dealt with a slightly dubious conceit about the infallibility of Catholic doctrine, it also featured a revolving cast of famous actors including Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as a pair of fallen angels with Boston accents.
4. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Who’s in it? Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, Phil Silvers, Peter Falk plus dozens of cameo roles.
A lot of these names might not mean a lot to modern audiences, but trust us: in 1963, you couldn’t have asked for a more star-studded cast. The plot revolves around a disparate group of weirdos who drive cross-country in pursuit of $350,000 in stolen cash. Back then, we assume that was a lot of money. These days, you only could set yourself up with a studio flat in Hackney for that amount.
On top of the core cast, there are cameos from the likes of Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton and The Three Stooges
5. The Cannonball Run (1981)
Who’s in it? Roger Moore, Jackie Chan, Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLouise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Fonda, Terry Bradshaw
Hal Needham, the legendary stuntman and late director of Smokey and the Bandit put his own spin on It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World with this ensemble comedy set around a cross-country motor rally.
You’ll hopefully agree that the casting here is pretty insane. Roger Moore plays a suave James Bond-like figure who drives an Aston Martin; Hong Kong stars Jackie Chan and Michael Hui play a pair of Japanese drivers; Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr are a pair of conmen posing as priests; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw is a NASCAR enthusiast; and Klinger from MASH plays an Arab Sheikh.
It was followed by a sequel three years later.
6. A Prairie Home Companion (2006)
Who’s in it? Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, John C Reilly, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Virginia Madsen, Maya Rudolph
Throughout his prolific career, director Robert Altman has been the undisputed master of large ensemble films. From MASH and Short Cuts to Gosford Park and this: his final work as a filmmaker.
The story surrounds the last episode of a long-running (real life) radio variety show and the various personalities that have come to perform for one last time. The show’s creator Garrison Keillor stars as himself in a script he also wrote, drafting in a plot line that involves a visiting angel (Madsen) who has come to comfort these characters.
Altman was 85 and suffering from leukaemia during the three month shoot and was assisted by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood). For insurance purposes, he was required to be onset as a ‘standby director’ just in case Altman was unable to complete the film.
7. Movie 43 (2013)
Who’s in it? Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, Terrence Howard, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, Julianne Moore, Josh Duhamel, Halle Berry, Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Chloë Grace Moretz, Greg Kinnear, Stephen Merchant, Naomi Watts, Live Schrieber, Kate Bosworth
Without a doubt the ‘starriest’ of the films on this list, Movie 43 also happens to be the worst by some margin. An anthology of short films designed to ‘push the boundaries’ of humour, the Farrelly Brothers-devised feature just ended up being a collection of unfunny atrocities.
Kate Winslet goes on a first date with Hugh Jackman, only to discover an intimate part of his anatomy located on his neck; Batman and Robin go speed-dating; and a black basketball coach railis to his team in an ironically racist fashion. This is the kind of material you’d expect from a third-rate university sketch team, and not a feature film.
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Who’s in it? Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Owen Wilson.
With every film he makes, Wes Anderson seems to expand his merry band of actors. For most of the actors in The Grand Budapest Hotel, this isn’t their first spin on the Wes Anderson merry-go-round. Just about every character with more than one line is a famous actor of some sort, from Ralph Fiennes all the way down to Palme d’Or winner Lea Seydoux, who has a bit part as Swinton’s housemaid.
9. The Expendables 2 (2012)
Who’s in it? Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Chuck Norris
For this sequel, writer/producer Sylvester Stallone went to town on his mission to employ just about every action star to have ever worked in the medium of film. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a character called Trench Mauser? I’d watch that! Jean-Claude Van Damme as a villain named Jean Vilain? Yes please!
It doesn’t matter that Chuck Norris is a 72 year-old grandfather of nine: just put a machine gun in his hands and have him slowly walk towards the camera!
In an effort to outdo themselves once more, it’s been announced that Expendables 3 will also feature Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas. Superstar overload!
10. JFK (1991)
Who’s in it? Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Joe Pesci, Sissy Spacek, John Candy, Donald Sutherland
A functioning knowledge of JFK’s all-star cast is a must for any aficionado of the Kevin Bacon game, if only for how it opens you up to Tommy Lee Jones’ prolific filmography.
In filling his three-hour conspiracy thesis with a load of recognisable faces, Oliver Stone cannily avoided having to remind people who all the characters were. His screenplay also allowed the stars to deliver some of their career-best performances. Costner has never been more effective than in the final courtroom scene where his voice cracks while Donald Sutherland gets a barnstorming scene as a nameless informant.
The Counsellor is now available to buy and rent