(Photo by New Line/ courtesy Everett Collection)

25 Fresh Robert Altman Movies and Series

Directors know they’ve made an indelible mark on cinema when their last name becomes a descriptive adjective, a shorthand to jazz up any review or conversation. In Robert Altman’s case, “Altmanesque” can describe a few different kinds of moods and movies. There’s those sprawling stories with a multitude of characters tied with perhaps the loosest of narrative threads, like in The Player or Short Cuts. “Altmanesque” can point out roving, restless cameras that capture spontaneous and improvised performances, as featured in The Company and Gosford Park. The term is also used to paint deep-fried slices of Americana with a satirical sizzle, which Altman served up in McCabe & Mrs. Miller and A Prairie Home Companion. His magnum opus, 1975’s Nashville, represents a cross-section of all of these.

Though Altman’s prime period was during the 1970s, kick-starting the decade with Best Picture-nominated M*A*S*H, he typically isn’t bundled together with the other mavericks of the era (Spielberg, Scorsese, Friedkin, Coppola, and so on), having broken into the industry much earlier by working in television since the ’50s. Because of his experience, Altman was able to set up productions at a much faster pace than the young upstarts. Dig just beneath the masterpieces and you’ll immediately discover classics like The Long Goodbye, California Split, 3 Women, Thieves Like Us, and more.

The ’80s were considered a relatively dry decade for Altman, necessitating the narrative of a comeback film. That would arrive in the acerbic Hollywood insider comedy The Player, in 1993. Player would deliver Altman one of his five Best Director Oscar nominations, with the last nom in 2001 for Gosford Park. In March 2006, the Academy gave Altman the Honorary Award, eight months before his death.

Visit and celebrate the works of a true American directing icon with these 25 Fresh Robert Altman movies!

#25

The Player (1992)
98%

#25
Adjusted Score: 103327%
Critics Consensus: Bitingly cynical without succumbing to bitterness, The Player is one of the all-time great Hollywood satires -- and an ensemble-driven highlight of the Altman oeuvre.
Synopsis: Certain that the anonymous threats he's been receiving are the work of David Kahane (Vincent D'Onofrio), producer Griffin Mill (Tim... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#24

Short Cuts (1993)
95%

#24
Adjusted Score: 98515%
Critics Consensus: Robert Altman's ensemble drama deftly integrates its disparate characters and episodes into a funny, poignant, emotionally satisfying whole.
Synopsis: Many loosely connected characters cross paths in this film, based on the stories of Raymond Carver. Waitress Doreen Piggot (Lily... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#23

3 Women (1977)
94%

#23
Adjusted Score: 93518%
Critics Consensus: 3 Women is a strange, eerie portrait of late-'70s womanhood that upends and then defies all expectations.
Synopsis: Writer/director Robert Altman claimed this impressionistic film came to him in a dream. Millie Lammoreaux (Shelley Duvall) considers herself irresistible... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#22

The Long Goodbye (1973)
94%

#22
Adjusted Score: 98629%
Critics Consensus: An ice-cold noir that retains Robert Altman's idiosyncratic sensibilities, The Long Goodbye ranks among the smartest and most satisfying Marlowe mysteries.
Synopsis: Private detective Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) is asked by his old buddy Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) for a ride to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#21

Nashville (1975)
92%

#21
Adjusted Score: 97330%
Critics Consensus: Robert Altman captures the bravado and cynicism of the American dream in Nashville, a sprawling epic bursting with vivid performances and an unforgettable soundtrack.
Synopsis: In this acclaimed Robert Altman drama, the lives of numerous people in the Tennessee capital intersect in unpredictable ways. Delbert... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#20

Vincent and Theo (1990)
89%

#20
Adjusted Score: 89229%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh (Tim Roth) has no greater champion of his work than his devoted brother, Theo... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#19

California Split (1974)
86%

#19
Adjusted Score: 88295%
Critics Consensus: Aimless yet amiable, California Split is minor but rewarding Altman, elevated by the chemistry between leads Elliott Gould and George Segal.
Synopsis: Carefree single guy Charlie Waters (Elliott Gould) rooms with two lovely prostitutes, Barbara Miller (Ann Prentiss) and Susan Peters (Gwen... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#18

Gosford Park (2001)
87%

#18
Adjusted Score: 92385%
Critics Consensus: A mixture of Upstairs, Downstairs, Clue, and perceptive social commentary, Gosford Park ranks among director Altman's best.
Synopsis: Robert Altman, one of America's most distinctive filmmakers, journeys to England for the first time to create a unique film... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#17

Cookie's Fortune (1999)
86%

#17
Adjusted Score: 87909%
Critics Consensus: Robert Altman's gift for diffuse storytelling is employed to breezily enjoyable effect in Cookie's Fortune, a mirthful caper that layers on a generous helping of Southern charm.
Synopsis: After learning that her aunt, an elderly Mississippi widow (Patricia Neal), has taken her own life, Camille (Glenn Close) hatches... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#16

Brewster McCloud (1970)
86%

#16
Adjusted Score: 87534%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Brewster McCloud (Bud Cort) isn't your normal sort of boy. He resides in a nuclear fallout shelter in the Houston... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 88591%
Critics Consensus: McCabe & Mrs. Miller offers revisionist Western fans a landmark early addition to the genre while marking an early apogee for director Robert Altman.
Synopsis: Charismatic gambler John McCabe (Warren Beatty) arrives in a mining community and decides to open a brothel. The local residents... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#14

M*A*S*H (1970)
84%

#14
Adjusted Score: 88450%
Critics Consensus: Bold, timely, subversive, and above all funny, M*A*S*H remains a high point in Robert Altman's distinguished filmography.
Synopsis: Based on the novel by Richard Hooker, "M*A*S*H" follows a group of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital officers at they perform... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#13

Thieves Like Us (1974)
82%

#13
Adjusted Score: 82499%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this Robert Altman period drama, Bowie (Keith Carradine) is an escaped convict who embarks on a crime spree with... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 88731%
Critics Consensus: The final film by the great Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion, the big screen adaptation of Garrison Keillor's radio broadcast showcases plenty of the director's strengths: it's got a gigantic cast and plenty of quirky acting and dialogue.
Synopsis: A private investigator (Kevin Kline) keeps tabs on the proceedings as guests, cast and crew (Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Woody... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#11
Adjusted Score: 18321%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Members (Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black) of a Texas James Dean fan club reunite 20 years after his death.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#10

Fool for Love (1985)
79%

#10
Adjusted Score: 50230%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Forbidden lovers (Sam Shepard, Kim Basinger) meet at a Western motel in a version of Sam Shepard's play.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#9

Secret Honor (1984)
77%

#9
Adjusted Score: 45453%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In his New Jersey study, Richard Nixon (Philip Baker Hall) retraces the missteps of his political career, attempting to absolve... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#8

A Wedding (1978)
73%

#8
Adjusted Score: 72287%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Friends and family of the bride (Amy Stryker) and groom (Desi Arnaz Jr.) carry on at a mansion before, during... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#7

The Company (2003)
71%

#7
Adjusted Score: 75588%
Critics Consensus: Its deliberately unfocused narrative may frustrate some viewers, but The Company finds Altman gracefully applying his distinctive eye to the world of dance.
Synopsis: Loretta "Ry" Ryan (Neve Campbell) is an aspiring ballerina performing with the renowned Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. As she struggles... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#6

Images (1972)
71%

#6
Adjusted Score: 71697%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A schizophrenic (Susannah York) confuses her husband (Rene Auberjonois) with her lovers and her self.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#5
Adjusted Score: 68747%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: By 1885, beloved cavalryman Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman) has hired a publicist and producer to help shape and promote... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#4

Countdown (1968)
67%

#4
Adjusted Score: 18801%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A scientist (James Caan) replaces a military officer (Robert Duvall) as an astronaut on a space-race moonshot.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#3

Kansas City (1996)
63%

#3
Adjusted Score: 64693%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Aspiring thief Johnny (Dermot Mulroney) messes with the wrong man when he attempts to steal from Seldom Seen (Harry Belafonte),... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#2

Popeye (1980)
63%

#2
Adjusted Score: 64552%
Critics Consensus: Altman's take on the iconic cartoon is messy and wildly uneven, but its robust humor and manic charm are hard to resist.
Synopsis: Looking for the father (Ray Walston) who deserted him as a baby, a sailor named Popeye (Robin Williams) journeys to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#1

Streamers (1983)
60%

#1
Adjusted Score: 26950%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During the Vietnam War, four fresh-faced Army recruits are stuck waiting for their assignments in a vacant barracks. The pressures... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

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