I was really torn on what to do with this category. Part of me really wanted to give this category a laser focus on movies you wouldn’t normally see in the individual categories either because the duties were so evenly divided among the cast that no one really stood out or perhaps movies that focused on special challenges like casting non-actors or casting children. That was an appealing idea but at the end of the day these awards are supposed to be about finding the best of the best regardless of handicaps. The roster of nominees might have looked different if I’d gone 100% in one direction or the other but instead I went with a bit of a mix. I dropped Manchester by the Sea simply because it three core cast members were already recognized in the individual categories but casts which still had a lot of depth beyond the leads were allowed to stay.
- 20th Century Women: I’ve already given strong kudos to Annette Benning and Greta Gerwig for their work here but the cast does run deeper than that. It also features Elle Fanning doing a bit of a Margot Tenenbaum thing and Billy Crudup looking a lot different than he usually does (I’m increasingly recognizing how much of an effortless chameleon that guy is) and it also introduces Lucas Jade Zumann as the person who’s more or less at the center of it all and he does great work as well.
- Everybody Wants Some!!: In 1993 Richard Linklater assembled a cast of complete unknowns to make his classic Dazed and Confused and in doing so discovered some of the biggest stars of the 90s and 2000s. I don’t know whether the cast of Everybody Wants Some!! will do the same, but he’s certainly assembled a collection of relative unknowns here who form a great group dynamic and certainly seem like genuine college bros.
- Moonlight: Moonlight is another great example of ensemble acting but unlike some of the other examples here it isn’t so much about a big cast intereacting with one another so much as almost a procession of mini-casts. The various actors who play Chiron in each cast all do blend together fairly well and the actors playing other people who enter into his life like Janelle Monáe and André Holland also do great work.
- Our Little Sister: I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of any of the actors present in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister and I’m not sure what any of them would be like in a super heavy drama, but the chemistry they’re able to create in this movie was really infectious to me. A true ensemble, the film looks in more or less equal measure on four sisters and the people around them and the whole cast makes the characters feel very real and very warm.
- The Witch: When you think of The Witch you generally don’t immediately think of it as an acting showcase but it actually kind of is. Part of what makes its ensemble so impressive is that only two of the actors (Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie) are veteran performers while the rest are newcomers that the casting director needed to “discover” like Anya Taylor-Joy, Harvey Scrimshaw, and the kids playing the twins.