(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: 102.526%
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: Robert Altman's provocative satire of the movie industry stars Tim Robbins as Griffin Mill, an unscrupulous Hollywood studio executive who... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#24

Short Cuts (1993)
95%

#24
Adjusted Score: 99.222%
Critics Consensus: Robert Altman's ensemble drama deftly integrates its disparate characters and episodes into a funny, poignant, emotionally satisfying whole.
Synopsis: Robert Altman stunningly interweaves 22 characters and nine Raymond Carver short stories -- relocating the settings from Carver's Northwest to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#23

3 Women (1977)
94%

#23
Adjusted Score: 96.587%
Critics Consensus: 3 Women is a strange, eerie portrait of late-'70s womanhood that upends and then defies all expectations.
Synopsis: Robert Altman's Three Women takes a surreal, improvisational and rather eerie look at the lives of three women in a... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#22

The Long Goodbye (1973)
93%

#22
Adjusted Score: 97.271%
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: "It's OK with me...." Applying his deconstructive eye to the "film noir" tradition, Robert Altman updated Raymond Chandler in his... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#21

Nashville (1975)
91%

#21
Adjusted Score: 97.896%
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: Released 30 years ago, when the nation was still reeling from the Vietnam War and Watergate, this prophetic all-American mosaic... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#20

Vincent & Theo (1990)
89%

#20
Adjusted Score: 90.228%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Robert Altman's masterful, sensitive portrait of Vincent Van Gogh (Tim Roth) and his brother Theo (Paul Rhys), based on letters... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#19

California Split (1974)
88%

#19
Adjusted Score: 89.948%
Critics Consensus: Aimless yet amiable, California Split is minor but rewarding Altman, elevated by the chemistry between leads Elliott Gould and George Segal.
Synopsis: With a free-flowing storyline, much improvisation, and a multi-channel soundtrack, filmmaker Robert Altman creates a challenging, not always successful portrait... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#18

Gosford Park (2001)
86%

#18
Adjusted Score: 91.169%
Critics Consensus: A mixture of Upstairs, Downstairs, Clue, and perceptive social commentary, Gosford Park ranks among director Altman's best.
Synopsis: Maverick American filmmaker Robert Altman takes a witty and absorbing look at the foibles of the British class system in... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#17

Cookie's Fortune (1999)
86%

#17
Adjusted Score: 87.969%
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: The ingredients of an archetypal southern town (the blues, catfish, and scrabble), a deliciously chosen cast, and the creative skills... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#16

Brewster McCloud (1971)
86%

#16
Adjusted Score: 87.506%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A boy yearns to fly in Robert Altman's whimsical youthquake parable. With the aid of seraphic Louise (Sally Kellerman), owlish... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 89.684%
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: In a small American frontier village, a stranger named McCabe builds a brothel with the help of experienced madame Mrs.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#14

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

#14
Adjusted Score: 90.792%
Critics Consensus: Bold, timely, subversive, and above all funny, M*A*S*H remains a high point in Robert Altman's distinguished filmography.
Synopsis: Although he was not the first choice to direct it, the hit black comedy MASH established Robert Altman as one... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#13

Thieves Like Us (1974)
82%

#13
Adjusted Score: 83.702%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Set during the 1930s, this film focuses on three escapees from a Midwestern prison camp who go on a crime... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 87.811%
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: Director Robert Altman and writer Garrison Keillor join forces with an all-star cast to create a comic backstage fable, "A... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#11
Adjusted Score: 41.093%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Robert Altman directed this low-budget film version of the play by Ed Graczyk, also directed by Altman on Broadway with... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#10

Fool for Love (1985)
79%

#10
Adjusted Score: 79.223%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this Robert Altman film, Eddie (Sam Shepard) and May (Kim Basinger) are on-again-off-again lovers who haven't seen each other... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#9

Secret Honor (1984)
77%

#9
Adjusted Score: 77.188%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: 'Secret Honor' is a filmed version of Donald Freed and Arnold Stone's one-man play wherein the disgraced Richard M. Nixon... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#8

A Wedding (1978)
73%

#8
Adjusted Score: 73.317%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Robert Altman's over-frenetic satire on American marriage rituals and hypocrisy concerns the upper-crust marriage between Dino Corelli (Desi Arnaz Jr.)... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#7

The Company (2003)
72%

#7
Adjusted Score: 75.514%
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: A tale centering on the Chicago ballet company--the difficult daily work, the intense pressures of performance, the richly textured behaviors... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#6

Images (1972)
71%

#6
Adjusted Score: 71.967%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A woman walks a razor's edge between reality and madness in this impressionistic drama written and directed by Robert Altman.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#5
Adjusted Score: 69.958%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: "Truth is whatever gets the loudest applause." Debunking western myths even more than he did in McCabe and Mrs. Miller... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#4

Countdown (1968)
67%

#4
Adjusted Score: 47.857%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Improvisational director Robert Altman hadn't yet found his cinematic "voice" when he helmed the conformist, stick-to-the-script Countdown. James Caan is... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#3

Kansas City (1996)
63%

#3
Adjusted Score: 64.551%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: "Kansas City" is a panoramic melodrama about politics, race, crime, and the movies, made in a "jazz" style that matches... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#2

Popeye (1980)
63%

#2
Adjusted Score: 65.62%
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: In the town of Sweetville, lovable sailor Popeye seeks out his long-lost father. Along the way, he vies with the... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#1

Streamers (1983)
60%

#1
Adjusted Score: 60.016%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Based on the virulently antimilitary play by David Rabe, Streamers is set in a basic-training barracks. Matthew Modine is among... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

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