Friday, February 09, 2007

Muriel Awards: Best Ensemble

"Jack Nicholson, given the right role, will act his co-stars under the table. This was the right role, which is why it's a testament to the amazing acting bravado of his colleagues that he wasn't able to steal the show entirely. And what colleagues: Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone and Alec Baldwin all doing some of the best work of their careers." ~ Matt Riviera

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Kza said...

This was the category I had the hardest time with; I'm not sure I get it. What do we mean by "best ensemble"? Is it just the best cast? Does it matter if some of the actors never interact with each other? Can you have a great ensemble in a terrible movie? What's the difference between "Best Ensemble" and "Worst Ensemble"? What, exactly, are we honoring here?

Paul C. said...

OK, that settles it- I'm sending out detailed explanations for the categories next year.

Anyway, when I decided to include this particular category in the awards, I didn't simply want to honor the most stellar cast of the year. Instead, I considered the word "ensemble" and its meaning in French- "together." In my mind, a great ensemble is made of actors who raise each other's game by working as a team rather than adopting an every-man-for-himself philosophy (I think Matt's quote expresses this pretty well).

A great ensemble, in my opinion, doesn't have to be made up of big-name actors, nor does it have to be the proverbial "cast of thousands." For example, one of my votes was for the intimate DUCK SEASON, a film that's focused on four unknown actors in an apartment. What makes this ensemble great is the consistently high level of performance from the entire group.

As for your question, "can you have a great ensemble in a terrible movie?" Theoretically, I'm sure it's possible for the entire cast to be excellent while the film still sucks, due to something like a poor screenplay. But I can't think of any examples off the top of my head.

Does this help any?

Steve said...

Fine cast in a crap movie? I think that's called Babel.

Kza said...

Thanks, Paul, that helps immensely. However, it does bring up a problem in that, to me, this award only makes sense for certain movies -- where the ensemble in question interacts on a regular basis throughout the film, usually because of physical restrictions. For example, "Little Miss Sunshine" makes sense to me as a nominee; so would, say, "Reservoir Dogs", "Glengarry Glen Ross", "12 Angry Men"... you get the idea.

"The Departed"? I don't really see it.

Jason_Alley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason_Alley said...

I still say "Talladega Nights", dammit!

Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole and Amy Adams are fun and form a tight, cohesive unit, playing to each others' comedic strengths, and Jane Lynch, Michael Clarke Duncan, Molly Shannon, Andy Richter and David Koechner fill things out nicely.

James said...

The sheer crush of high-caliber and A-list talent makes this one a good choice. I think that the high-box office can definitely be attributed to the cast rather than Scorsese.