Sportswriters call it ‘bench strength' – that rarest of things in sports, when a whole team works, in the words of Robert De Niro’s Al Capone, “as a team.” It’s not necessarily that a team with Bench strength has no superstars; rather, it’s that you can rely on everyone to not only pull their weight but also to provide everyone else a chance to do their best work for the team. With that said, here are the seven films from 2005 with the best flat-out bench strength – or, as you might otherwise say, best ensemble casts.

1) The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Yes, it’s a sex comedy. Yes, it’s just a sex comedy. But think about just how good The 40-Year-Old Virgin was … and how much of that wasn’t because of pratfalls or wacky make-up, but instead from simple scenes of people talking.  Steve Carell’s bemused, low-ball performance as sexless Andy Stitzer had a battalion of comedy backstops behind it. In the first rank? Pals Paul Rudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogen – all sexed-up, sexually experienced, completely idiotic and completely distinct from each other. Right behind them? Catherine Keener as Andy’s girlfriend Trish, who grounds the film in real emotions whether expressing love or interacting with her daughter Kat Dennings.  In the next rank after that, you’ve got goofy-pretty Elizabeth Banks and the pretty goofy (but she’ll ‘haunt your dreams … ’) Paula Lynch. And bringing up the rear, a series of small parts given big life by nicely-tuned bits of work, from the waxing lady to the kid who can’t understand Trish’s store, from Mooj at the shop to Gina at the speed-dating night.

(More after the jump. ...)

categories Cinematical