George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts in Ocean's Eleven

My Favorite Scene: Ocean’s Eleven (2001) “Putting the Team Together”

 

The ensemble for Ocean’s Eleven can stand against pretty much any film ever made, containing EIGHT Oscar-winning/nominated actors and actresses (Elliot Gould, Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and Andy Garcia) and that doesn’t even count NINE-time Emmy winner and legend Carl Reiner in his final major role or the Golden Globe and Emmy nominated Bernie Mac.  That’s a cast!  Unfortunately YouTube was unable to give me the whole assembling of the 11, so I cobbled it together the best I can from four clips.
Ocean's Eleven

Ocean’s Eleven is very smartly directed by Steven Soderbergh, who made two crucial decisions: 1) don’t stray from the conventions of the classic heist film, but instead use every one of them and just do them so well that no one minds the formula and 2) get out of the way of his cast.  The film remakes a Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin picture that’s really pretty awful (which are, by the way, films that SHOULD be remade, films with good ideas that fell short), but the remake’s ensemble is much deeper and once they’ve all sunk into character the bickering and bantering between them is gold.  The whole movie feels effortless, like Soderbergh just hoisted a camera and followed them around, but then that’s what the mark of a truly great craftsman is: to make something insanely hard look insanely easy.  In addition to being stylish and entertaining, the film makes a tremendous amount of hay with the characters (most of whom are friends in real life) making fun of each other: mainly Linus (Matt Damon).  Damon takes a tremendous amount of needling through all three films, but I think my favorite freaking out Linus moment in the first film is when Rusty (Pitt) gives him a serious sit down just before he’s about to go into the lion’s den.

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