The Changing Roles of American Movies



Let us return to 1978. Dazzled by the star-studded cast of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (and more!) American Hustle tells the story of two con artists (Bale and Adams), an FBI agent (Cooper) and Bale’s crazy wife (Lawrence). While the actors, costumes and music shine, as reviewed on SLM here; the talented actors carry this film more than anything else.

But is it just us, or does the movie largely reflect Hollywood’s turn to casting an A-list actor in every major role? So long, nobodies?

This year of American films has represented a change in the casting world. The Harry Potter franchise, where the professors, administrators and all supporting characters were played by “the who’s who” in British television and cinema, potentially served as a catalyst for this movement. However, more recently, large scale productions such as Les Miserables and the upcoming Monuments Men boast impressive Hollywood lineups. While it’s financial motivation to get people, even those uninspired by the plot, to the box office, this change may have dire results for those attempting to break into the industry.

How do we discover new talent in the field of young stars of Hollywood, when they aren’t getting screen time? Don’t get me wrong, these star-studded casts are incredibly talented and change the energy of a movie. However, wasn’t there some kind of fun in seeing a movie with an unknown lead? How else would the world have discovered adorable Leonardo DeCaprio?

The world of Hollywood blockbusters with four or more A-list actors is becoming more and more popular. Perhaps this style of film is more popular and interesting for the actors – on and off set- when they are surrounded by their colleagues.

So, lemon ladies, do you see a trend here? Do you think this changing Hollywood theme is helping or hurting the American movie industry? We’d love to know your thoughts!


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  • Reply January 2, 2014


    I think that it really depends on the director – American Hustle might not be the best example since it’s David O. Russell and he loves working with the same actors (similar to Wes Anderson in that way). Then you can look at a film like Inside Llewyn Davis where Joel and Ethan Coen cast a complete unknown for their lead. I think that this is an interesting idea though as more and more films do have these big ensemble casts but I don’t think that it necessarily reflects a shift in the whole industry. Maybe for major Hollywood blockbusters (they have a lot of money behind them so they have the resources for a big ensemble – think Valentines Day or New Years Eve – but the indie industry isn’t following the same pattern.

  • Reply January 3, 2014


    I agree Louisa — directors really know who they want to work with and pick their projects with a certain star in mind.

    I don’t think it’s any more difficult for a relative unknown to break into stardom. Take much-beloved Jennifer Lawrence, for example. In 2010 when she starred in Winter’s Bone, J. Law had only a few movies and television shows under her belt. But she carried the film and now she’s everywhere. Same with the Descendants’ breakout star Shailene Woodley, who is somehow in every movie ever in 2014. It’s still a long shot for unknown actors, I just don’t know if it’s gotten worse…