2008 Calvin Awards: Best Cast

February 19, 2008

Their movie is not nearly this happy.

Many films can offer a single good performance, or even plenty of action to make up for the lack of an engaging actor, but it's the rare bird that can put together an entire cast that is so outstanding that it can be hard to decide who stands out the most. Such is the case with many of our entries in this category, with every single movie on the list quite deserving of its spot.

Our winner is No Country for Old Men, which is impressive given the number of stellar performances that have received critical attention. Let's start with Josh Brolin, who had previously been barely noticeable in the industry but left us blown away thanks to his portrayal of man-on-the-run Llewelyn Moss. His bravura performance is especially impressive when you consider that it would have been easy for Brolin to have been overshadowed by either Tommy Lee Jones, who seemed perfectly selected for the world-weary Sheriff Bell, or Javier Bardem, who went darker than dark as the super-villain Anton Chigurh and will likely be remembered as one of the great bad guys in cinema. There was also Kelly Macdonald, doing a fine Texas accent as she played Llewelyn's wife, Woody Harrelson, an ambiguous cleaner-type and Garret Dillahunt, whose small role as a deputy working alongside Sheriff Bell is memorable and priceless.

Coming in a close second is Juno, which also relied on a fine ensemble to deliver a sparkling, contemporary screenplay. At the forefront of the group is Ellen Page, whose wry, sardonic attitude comes across perfectly in the titular character, but she is backed up by some talent that is crucial to the movie's success. Included in this group are Michael Cera (who might be typecast at this point, but he sure can play the young schlub well), J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney, who realistically portray the confuzzled father and stepmother of the young mother-to-be. Also present are Jennifer Garner, who is wonderful as a woman who is desperate to have a child of her own, and Jason Bateman, who plays surprisingly against type though it would be spoiler-ish to reveal how. Rainn Wilson even has a brief, hilarious appearance at the beginning of the film. Although most of them only share significant screen time with Page, they all gel well together to involve the viewer in Juno's story.

Third place goes to Hot Fuzz, which indeed relies on a very funny group of people to make this action film spoof work properly. The cast is headed up by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, both of whom BOP has followed from the television series Spaced to Shaun of the Dead and now this film. Of course, if it were only Pegg and Frost in the film, we would just have to guys making jokes at each other, so Hot Fuzz also relies on the talent of Jim Broadbent (truly one of the most talented actors in Great Britain), Paddy Considine (another of our favorites, willing to take a very supporting role), Timothy Dalton (in a villainous turn), Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, and a host of terrific British character actors. There are even cameos from Cate Blanchett, Steve Coogan and Peter Jackson.

Our next film was decidedly different in tone than Hot Fuzz, and relied on a weightier cast to properly bring the atmosphere of San Francisco in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s to life. Fourth place goes to Zodiac, David Fincher's look at the era and history surrounding the Zodiac killer as well as the cops and newspaper types who pursued him. Truly a group effort, the cast included Jason Gyllenhaal, who was ostensibly the lead as a newspaper cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the case, Robert Downey Jr., who portrays a jaded and bitter newspaper reporter perhaps all too well, and Mark Ruffalo, playing a cop who is exasperated by the direction the case has taken. Other supporting performers in this fine group are Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Chloe Sevigny and John Carroll Lynch.


Fifth place is a happy selection, as the majority of the cast members are actors who we've been watching for a long time via their career trajectories with Judd Apatow. The writer/director brought along many of his cohorts to star in Knocked Up, and the result was special. Seth Rogen had never played the lead before, but he was pitch perfect here as a young man who accidentally impregnates a one-night stand. And even if her comments about the film turned ugly later, Katherine Heigl was a nice foil for his goofiness. Other Apatow stalwarts helped make things fun. Paul Rudd was a hassled husband and father, and Leslie Mann (Apatow's real-life wife) was his frustrated spouse. Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill and Martin Starr (Bill Haverchuck forever!) played the prospective father's slacker buddies. And Harold Ramis as future grandfather was a nice touch as well. What is great about Apatow's bunch is that they are growing with him, which is reflected in the fact that they're all finding their own niches, including writing and directing their own material.

Michael Clayton is our sixth place finisher, and it does indeed have a cast that is so good that it is nearly impossible to take your eyes off the screen. Naturally, much turns on George Clooney's portrayal of the titular character, but also crucial are Tom Wilkinson, whose manic attorney looking to make things right is near-perfect, and Tilda Swinton, a calculating individual who is amazingly ambiguous. Also contributing to the tangled tale are Sydney Pollack, Michael O'Keefe (who interestingly succeeded Clooney as a boyfriend of Jackie on the television series "Roseanne"), Ken Howard, and Robert Prescott.

The last three positions in the top ten are taken by Gone Baby Gone, Stardust and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Sure, Ben Affleck might have cast baby brother Casey as the lead in Gone Baby Gone, but he is exemplary in the role. Amy Ryan is receiving all kinds of accolades for her supporting turn, and deservedly so. Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and Titus Welliver are great as well. As for Stardust, its stellar ensemble group including Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, Peter O'Toole, Rupert Everett, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sarah Alexander, Joanna Scanlan, Robert De Niro and Ricky Gervais made for an entirely memorable movie-going experience. And the Potter cast likely speaks for itself, though new cast additions Imelda Staunton and Evanna Lynch added a great deal to the finished product.

Just outside the top ten looking in were There Will Be Blood, Ocean's Thirteen, Waitress and Superbad. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Breakthrough Performance
Best Cast
Best Director
Best DVD
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Video Game
Worst Performance
Worst Picture
Top 10
Position Film Total Points
1 No Country for Old Men 72
2 Juno 69
3 Hot Fuzz 38
4 Zodiac 37
5(tie) The Bourne Ultimatum 33
5(tie) Knocked Up 33
7 Michael Clayton 31
8 Gone Baby Gone 29
9 Stardust 28
10 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 26



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