Last summer, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all somehow ended up on the Miami Heat, and ninety percent of the general public responded by hatefully rooting against them. Iím not sure there will ever be another time in Dirk Nowitzkiís life when as many non-Mavs fans pray for his wild, off-balance fadeaways to go in, but thatís the nature of sports. We tend to despise organizations that buy too much talent. Thankfully for Ides Of March, movies work oppositely.
Whatís the first question people always ask when you tell them you saw a great movie theyíve never heard of? Whoís in it? Iím just as guilty as anyone else. Spend five minutes haranguing me about the brilliance of some new independent film, and Iíll get around to watching it eventually. Tell me a new movie starring Kevin Spacey and Daniel Day-Lewis is great, and I will always show up on opening night. I like what I like, and I like everyone starring in this weekís Ides Of March.
The phrase best cast of the year is thrown around very liberally, but Ides Of March has no less than five Academy Award nominees in its cast: George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Gosling. It's astounding that so many in-demand people could have coordinated schedules so efficiently. In fact, I may have thought it was some kind of record were it not for the fact that history has provided me with numerous examples to the contrary. It turns out movies with five Oscar nominees are just rare, not unheard of. So, in honor of George Clooneyís new directorial effort, here are 10 great movies that feature at least five men and women nominated by the AcademyÖ
I suspect The Godfather is probably the first movie that pops into a lot of peopleís heads when they think of great casts. In truth, I could have chosen the second installment as well, at least if I counted James Caanís brief flashback, but with enough in the original, might as well not be cheap. Marlon Brando won an Oscar for his portrayal of Don Vito Corleone and Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall were also nominated for their work here. Throw in Diane Keaton as Kay Adams, who won for Annie Hall and youíve got your five. Plus, itís a great crime that John Cazale was never nominated for an Oscar. No other actor has ever spent a higher percentage of his career crushing in A+ movies.
Murder On The Orient Express
Sidney Lumetís wonderful 1974 adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery features eight Academy Award nominees (Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam and John Gielgud), as well as a four time Golden Globe nominee (Jacqueline Bisset) and Basil Exposition from Austin Powers (Michael York). Ordinarily, Iíd gladly use this time to talk about the hardware Finney should have gotten for his detective Hercule Poirot or Bacallís snub for her work as Mrs. Hubbard, but no conversation about awards is complete without a shout-out to John Gielgud. He plays the hilarious and pretentious butler Beddoes here, but in real life, heís one of the few actors who have ever EGOTed. 30 Rockís Tracy Jordan would take that behind the middle school and get it pregnant.
With the exception of Inception, The Dark Knight, LOTR and the Star Wars letdowns, I donít remember any movie being as obsessed over before its release as The Departed. One of my friends even tried to explain to me why it was the greatest movie ever before he even saw it. Praising something before its release might be idiotic, but if ever a movie begged for the distinction on paper, it was this one. Damon, Dicaprio Nicholson and Baldwin had all been nominated before this film came out, and in the past few years, this cast has somehow looked even better. Wahlberg was nominated for his work here, and Vera Farmiga was recognized for Up In The Air a few years later. Too bad Martin Sheen with his ten Emmy nominations and Ray Winstone with his two BAFTA nominations are lowering the main castís prestige. By the way, Iím glad I disagreed with my idiot friend. The Departed only turned out to be like a ninety-seven out of one hundred. For shame.
Whenever people tell me they donít like old movies, I always ask them to watch The Sting and get back to me. George Roy Hillís 1973 con story is perfect in every conceivable way; so, perfect in fact, that my parents actually let me watch it, despite its objectionable content, when I was probably too young. The accolades bestowed upon Paul Newman and Robert Redford are known to most, but The Sting also features Academy recognized actors Robert Shaw, Charles Durning and Sally Kirkland. Seriously, I canít say this enough times. If you havenít seen The Sting, watch it in the next twenty-four hours. If it were released this year, it would still probably win seven Oscars.
John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Samuel L Jackson all got Academy Award nominations out of Quentin Tarantinoís strange and intriguing two and a half hour gem, but theyíre far from the only ones who have gotten dressed up for an award night. Christopher Walken won an Oscar for The Deer Hunter in í78, Harvey Keitel was nominated for the same statue for Bugsy in í91, Eric Stoltz almost won a Golden Globe for Mask, as did Bruce Willis for In Country and Rosanna Arquette did win a BAFTA for Desperately Seeking Susan. I donít think Ving Rhames has ever been considered for anything, but seeing as how scary and great he is in everything, that seems unreasonable and wrong. Someone should call The Wolf to fix that problem.
The Dark Knight
It is a travesty that Gary Oldman has never been nominated for an Academy Award. Itís like if Wendyís went its whole corporate life without ever being nominated for best fast food cheeseburger. Luckily with The Dark Knight, that glaring oversight doesnít matter. Heath Ledger won a posthumous trophy for impressing and creeping the hell out of millions of cinemagoers, but his two nominations pale in comparison to Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman who have a combined eleven. Throw in one each for Maggie Gyllenhaal and Christian Bale, and this might very well be the most acclaimed cast for a superhero movie ever. Seems fitting since itís undoubtedly the best.
Even if every single movie by every single actor involved in Network ceased to exist, this film would still qualify. How crazy is that? The greatest story about the news business of all-time received five acting nominations, and it actually won three of them. Peter Finch, Beatrice Straight and Faye Dunaway all took home hardware, while poor William Holden and Ned Beatty got shut out. Luckily for Holden, he won in 1954, and luckily for Beatty, he later went on to play Rudyís dad. No one slow claps like Ned Beatty, and no one better gives begrudging approval.
Oceanís ElevenOceanís Eleven might seem out of place on a list populated with so many well-received dramas, but I donít care. The film never tries to be anything more than a good time, and judging by the later go-rounds the cast members came back for, they must have found the process enjoyable. Plus, anytime youíre talking about a stacked crop of actors, you canít possibly ignore this movie. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Elliott Gould, Andy Garcia and of course, Julia Roberts have all heard their name mentioned at that ungodly hour the Academy always announces nominations. Over/ under on a combined ten more nominations throughout the careers of the people I listed? You have to take the over, right?
Itís a mystery to me why L.A. Confidential often gets overlooked in best movies of the Ď90s conversations. Everyone seems to agree itís great, but Iím not sure Iíve ever met anyone who puts it among his or her handful of favorite movies. Regardless, it hits its quota of five actors and definitely surpasses a few other entries on this list in terms of repeat watchability. The film represents a high point for Kim Basinger who grabbed L.A. Confidentialís only acting nomination (she won), but pretty much all of her co-stars have been better and more lauded in other places. Russell Crowe had a sweet run of three consecutive nominations in the early 2000s. He won for Gladiator, just as Kevin Spacey did for both The Usual Suspects and American Beauty. David Strathairn probably should have won for his brilliant work in Good Night And Good Luck as Edward R Murrow, but he had to settle for the nomination, as did James Cromwell for his turn in Babe.
Had I been inclined to, I could have filled this list with war movies. Most great actors play a soldier at some point in their careers, and since thereís not a ton of war movies made every year, that prowess tends to get bunched together like men in foxholes. Apocalypse Now is all kinds of gruesome and majestic; so, weíll go ahead and use it as the official representative. Just like with The Departed, Martin Sheen is once again of no help, but Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper and Harrison Ford more than do the trick. Fun fact: combined, Brando and Duvall have been nominated eleven more times than the other three put together, but if you let Hopper count his script nomination, then itís only ten.