Robert Altman is a filmmaker and an American director, producer, actor and writer. Robert Altman was born on February 1, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri, United States. Altman is known as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.

Altman’s career began in the 1940s as an assistant director. His first film was “Bachelor Flat” (1949) which was followed by “Confidential Agent” (1954).

After directing several films for television, he became a full-time filmmaker with “MASH” (1970), which won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture.

He also directed “Brewster McCloud” (1970), “Nashville” (1975), “The Player” (1992), and “Gosford Park” (2001). Altman’s films are noted for their stylistic innovations that often pay homage to American roots music, Americana and midwestern culture.

The themes of his films often take place in the Middle West or within black communities.

Best Robert Altman Movies

Robert Altman is one of the greatest directors of all time.

His films are always thematically complex, yet they also have a unique sense of humor that makes them enjoyable to watch.

1. The Long Goodbye (1973)

The Long Goodbye (1973) is a classic neo-noir film that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Director Robert Altman expertly brings Raymond Chandler’s iconic detective Philip Marlowe to life, with Elliott Gould delivering a standout performance in the lead role.

The film’s plot is intricate and twisty, with Marlowe getting caught up in a web of deceit and betrayal as he tries to help a friend out of a sticky situation. The dialogue is sharp and witty, with many memorable one-liners that will leave you quoting them for days.

The film’s cinematography is also worth noting, with Altman using a mix of long takes and close-ups to create a sense of intimacy and tension. The score by John Williams is haunting and perfectly complements the film’s dark and moody atmosphere.

Overall, The Long Goodbye is a must-watch for fans of classic film noir and crime thrillers. It’s a masterclass in suspenseful storytelling, with a standout performance from Gould that will leave you wanting more. Highly recommended.

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2. Nashville (1975)

Nashville (1975) is a film that is difficult to describe in just a few words. It is a sprawling epic that weaves together the lives of 24 characters over the course of five days in the country music capital of the world. Director Robert Altman’s signature overlapping dialogue and naturalistic style create a sense of chaos and intimacy that draws the viewer in.

The ensemble cast, which includes Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, and Henry Gibson, deliver standout performances that range from heartbreaking to hilarious. The film is also notable for its use of music, with many of the actors performing their own songs.

At its core, Nashville is a commentary on American politics and culture in the 1970s, but it also serves as a timeless exploration of human relationships and the power of music. This is a film that demands multiple viewings to fully appreciate its depth and complexity.

Overall, Nashville is a masterpiece of American cinema that deserves its place in the pantheon of great films. It is a must-see for fans of Altman’s work, music lovers, and anyone interested in exploring the complexities of the human experience.


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3. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) is a masterful Western film that explores the harsh realities of life in a small mining town in the Pacific Northwest. Directed by Robert Altman and starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, this film is a gritty and authentic portrayal of the Old West that feels both timeless and contemporary.

The film follows John McCabe (Beatty), a charismatic and ambitious businessman who arrives in the town of Presbyterian Church with dreams of building a successful brothel. He teams up with Constance Miller (Christie), a savvy and street-smart madam, to make his vision a reality.

What follows is a beautifully shot and hauntingly melancholic depiction of a town and its people struggling to survive in a harsh and unforgiving landscape. The cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond is breathtaking, capturing the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest with stunning precision.

But what sets McCabe & Mrs Miller apart from other Westerns is its unflinching portrayal of its characters. Beatty’s McCabe is a flawed and complex protagonist, driven by his own ambitions and desires. Christie’s Miller is a powerful and independent woman, unafraid to do whatever it takes to protect her business and her own interests.

Overall, McCabe & Mrs. Miller is an unforgettable film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. It is a must-see for fans of Westerns and anyone who appreciates great cinema.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Renee Auberjonois (Actors)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Robert Altman (Writer) - David Foster (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

4. Short Cuts (1993)       

Short Cuts (1993) is a masterpiece of storytelling that weaves together the lives of multiple characters in Los Angeles. Directed by Robert Altman, this film captures the raw and gritty reality of everyday life, showcasing the interconnectedness of people’s experiences.

The ensemble cast is phenomenal, featuring standout performances from Julianne Moore, Tim Robbins, and Lily Tomlin. As the characters navigate through their mundane routines, they are forced to confront their deepest fears and desires, leading to unexpected revelations and consequences.

Altman’s signature overlapping dialogue adds to the film’s authenticity, creating a sense of eavesdropping on private conversations. The cinematography is also noteworthy, with the camera lingering on intimate moments and capturing the sprawling cityscape of Los Angeles.

Overall, Short Cuts is a poignant and thought-provoking film that explores the complexities of human relationships and the fragility of life. It is a must-watch for fans of Altman’s work and anyone who appreciates powerful storytelling.

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5. Brewster McCloud (1970)

Brewster McCloud is a surreal and quirky film that sure to leave an impression anyone watches. Directed byman this movie follows the story of a young man named Brewster who lives in the Houston Astrodome and dreams of flying. The film is filled with strange characters and bizarre situations, all set against the backdrop of the iconic Astrodome.

The performances in this film are outstanding, with Bud Cort delivering a standout performance as the titular character. The supporting cast, including Sally Kellerman, Shelley Duvall, and Michael Murphy, are equally impressive, bringing their own unique quirks and personalities to the screen.

The cinematography in Brewster McCloud is also noteworthy, with the Astrodome serving as a stunning and unique backdrop for the film’s events. The use of color and lighting is particularly striking, adding to the film’s dreamlike atmosphere.

Overall, Brewster McCloud is a one-of-a-kind film that defies categorization. It’s strange, surreal, and full of surprises, making it a must-watch for anyone who loves offbeat cinema.

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6. The Player (1992)       

“The Player” is a witty and satirical take on the film industry, directed Robert Altman and starring Tim Robbins as a Hollywood studio executive who becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. The film is filled with clever references to classic Hollywood films and features a star-studded cast including Peter Gallagher, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bruce Willis.

Altman’s signature style of overlapping dialogue and long takes creates a sense of chaos and authenticity within the film industry. Robbins gives a captivating performance as the morally ambiguous protagonist, while the supporting cast adds depth and humor to the story.

At its core, “The Player” is a commentary on the cutthroat nature of Hollywood and the lengths people will go to in order to succeed. Despite being released nearly 30 years ago, the themes of the film still resonate today, making it a must-see for cinephiles and anyone interested in the inner workings of the entertainment industry.

Overall, “The Player” is a smart and entertaining film that showcases Altman’s talent for creating complex and engaging films. Highly recommended for fans of dark comedies and Hollywood satire.

The Player
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward (Actors)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Michael Tolkin (Writer) - Cary Brokaw (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

7. Secret Honor (1984)

Secret Honor (1984) is a tour de force one-man show featuring a mesmerizing performance by the iconic Philip Baker Hall as former US President Richard Nixon. Directed by Robert Altman and based on a play by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, the film takes place entirely in Nixon’s study, where he rants and raves, drinks and smokes, and reminisces about his political career and downfall.

Hall’s portrayal of Nixon is nothing short of extraordinary, capturing the man’s contradictions, complexities, and obsessions with uncanny precision. From his paranoia and self-pity to his arrogance and self-righteousness, Hall embodies every facet of Nixon’s personality with a depth and nuance that is both chilling and riveting.

Altman’s direction is equally impressive, using a variety of camera angles and close-ups to create a sense of claustrophobia and intimacy, as if we are eavesdropping on a private conversation. The film’s sparse production design and haunting score add to its sense of isolation and despair, making it a haunting portrait of a man who rose to the heights of power only to be brought down by his own demons.

Overall, Secret Honor is a must-see for anyone interested in American politics, history, or great acting. It’s a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that will leave you breathless and haunted long after the credits roll.

Secret Honor
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Philip Baker Hall (Actor)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Donald Freed (Writer) - Robert Altman (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

8. Gosford Park (2001)

Gosford Park (2001) is a stunningly crafted murder mystery drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Director Robert Altman weaves a complex web of characters, relationships, and motives in a post-World War I British country estate setting, where the upstairs and downstairs worlds collide in a whirlwind of secrets, lies, and intrigue.

The film boasts an all-star cast, including Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Emily Watson, and Clive Owen, all delivering outstanding performances that add depth and complexity to their respective characters. The script, written by Julian Fellowes, is smart and witty, with sharp social commentary on the class divide and the English aristocracy.

What sets Gosford Park apart from other murder mysteries is the attention to detail in the production design, costumes, and music. The lavish interiors and costumes transport you back in time, while the haunting score by Patrick Doyle adds an eerie atmosphere to the film.

Overall, Gosford Park is a masterclass in filmmaking that will leave you captivated from start to finish. It’s a must-watch for fans of period dramas, murder mysteries, and brilliant storytelling.

Gosford Park
  • Gosford Park finds director Robert Altman in sumptuously fine form indeed. From the opening shots,...
  • Aristocrats gather together for a weekend shooting party with their dutiful servants in tow, and the...
  • Greed, vengeance, snobbery, and lust stir comic unrest as the near dizzying effect of brisk script...
  • First and foremost, Maggie Smith is marvelous as Constance, a dependent countess with a quip for...
  • Gosford Park manages to be fabulously entertaining while exposing human shortcomings, compromises,...

9. MASH (1970)                

MASH (1970) is a classic black comedy that succeeds in delivering a poignant message while still managing to entertain. Director Robert Altman’s ensemble cast is superb, led by Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould, who play two irreverent but brilliant army surgeons during the Korean War. The film is not afraid to tackle sensitive topics such as death, war, and racism, but does so with a deft touch that never feels heavy-handed. The cinematography is impressive, particularly the use of the zoom lens, which adds a unique visual style to the film. The soundtrack is also noteworthy, featuring an iconic score by composer Johnny Mandel. Overall, MASH is a timeless classic that still manages to be relevant and thought-provoking today. It’s a must-watch for fans of black comedies and war films alike.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt (Actors)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Ring Lardner Jr. (Writer) - Richard Preminger (Producer)
  • English (Playback Languages)
  • English (Subtitle)

10. Three Women (1977)

Three Women (1977) is a mesmerizing film that explores the complex relationships between three very different women. Director Robert Altman expertly weaves together the stories of Pinky (Sissy Spacek), Millie (Shelley Duvall), and Willie (Janice Rule) in a way that is both captivating and unsettling.

Spacek delivers a standout performance as the naive and childlike Pinky, who becomes obsessed with Millie, her extroverted and self-absorbed roommate. Duvall is equally impressive as Millie, who is desperate for attention and validation from those around her. Rule’s portrayal of Willie, a pregnant artist who Pinky meets at a health spa, adds another layer of complexity to the film.

Altman’s use of dreamlike imagery and surrealistic elements creates a haunting and eerie atmosphere throughout the film. The score, composed by frequent Altman collaborator Gerald Busby, is both hypnotic and unsettling.

Three Women is a thought-provoking film that explores themes of identity, desire, and the blurred lines between reality and fantasy. It’s a must-see for fans of Altman’s work and anyone interested in character-driven dramas.

3 Women
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sissy Spacek, Janice Rule, Robert Fortier (Actors)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Robert Altman (Writer) - Robert Altman (Producer)
  • English (Playback Languages)
  • English (Subtitle)

11. California Split (1974)

California Split is a must-watch for any fan of gambling movies. Directed by Robert Altman, this film follows the story of two gamblers, Bill and Charlie, who meet at a poker game and become fast friends.

The chemistry between Elliott Gould and George Segal is palpable and their performances are top-notch. The movie is filled with quirky characters and scenes that capture the essence of the gambling lifestyle in the 1970s.

What sets California Split apart from other gambling movies is its ability to be both humorous and poignant. The characters’ highs and lows are captured beautifully, and the film’s ending is both satisfying and bittersweet.

Overall, California Split is a gem of a movie that deserves more recognition in the gambling movie genre. It’s a must-watch for anyone who loves a good story about friendship, risk-taking, and the ups and downs of life.

California Split
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • George Segal, Elliott Gould, Ann Prentiss (Actors)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Joseph Walsh (Writer) - Robert Altman (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

12. That Cold Day in the Park (1969)

That Cold Day in the Park (1969) is a haunting and chilling film that will leave you feeling uneasy long after the credits have rolled. Director Robert Altman masterfully captures the tension and isolation of the film’s protagonist, played brilliantly by Sandy Dennis, as she becomes increasingly obsessed with a young man she brings into her home on a cold, rainy day.

The film’s slow-burn pacing allows for a deep exploration of the character’s psyche, and the claustrophobic setting of the apartment only adds to the sense of unease. The cinematography is breathtaking, with Altman using the camera to carefully capture the characters’ emotions and the subtle shifts in power dynamics.

What really sets That Cold Day in the Park apart, however, is its refusal to provide easy answers or resolutions. The film leaves many questions unanswered, leaving the viewer to grapple with the complexities of human desire and the lengths one will go to fulfill it.

Overall, That Cold Day in the Park is a must-see for fans of psychological thrillers and character studies, and a testament to Altman’s skill as a director.

That Cold Day In The Park
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sandy Dennis, Michael Burns, Susanne Benton (Actors)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Gillilan Freeman (Writer) - Donald Factor (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

13. Images (1972)           

Images (1972) is a haunting and enigmatic exploration of the human psyche, expertly crafted by director Robert Altman. The film follows Cathryn (played brilliantly by Susannah York), a children’s book author struggling with her own reality as she travels to an isolated cottage in Ireland with her husband.

Altman’s use of imagery and sound design is truly mesmerizing, creating a sense of unease and mystery throughout the film. The cinematography is stunning, with the Irish countryside providing a beautiful and eerie backdrop to Cathryn’s psychological journey.

York delivers a powerful and nuanced performance, capturing the complex emotions and inner turmoil of her character. The supporting cast also shines, adding depth and complexity to the film’s themes of identity and perception.

In Images, Altman masterfully blends elements of horror, drama, and psychological thriller to create a truly unique and captivating cinematic experience. This film is not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to delve into its intricate layers, it offers a thought-provoking and unforgettable viewing experience. Highly recommended for fans of experimental and art house cinema.

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14. Popeye (1980)           

“Popeye” is a charming and quirky musical comedy that stays true to its source material while adding its own unique spin. Robin Williams delivers an impressive performance as the iconic spinach-loving sailor, bringing both humor and heart the character. The film’s whimsical sets and costumes, coupled with the catchy tunes, create a delightful atmosphere that transports viewers to the colorful world of Sweethaven. The supporting cast, including Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl and Paul L. Smith as Bluto, also deliver standout performances. While some may find the pacing a bit slow at times, the film’s overall charm and nostalgia make it a must-watch for fans of the classic cartoon. “I’m Popeye the sailor man, I’m Popeye the sailor man, I’m strong to the finich ’cause I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man!”

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15. Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)             

Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy is a mesmerizing film that tells the story of a group of women who reunite at their hometown five and dime store, 20 years after their idol, James Dean, filmed a movie in their small town. Director Robert Altman expertly captures the nostalgia and longing of the characters as they confront their past and present selves. The all-star cast, including Cher, Kathy Bates, and Sandy Dennis, deliver powerhouse performances that bring depth and emotion to their complex characters. The film’s twist ending leaves the audience in awe, revealing the secrets and truths that have been haunting the characters for decades. Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a cinematic masterpiece that explores the power of memory, the complexities of relationships, and the undeniable impact of James Dean on American culture.

Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black (Actors)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Ed Graczyk (Writer) - Scott Bushnell (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

16. Thieves Like Us (1974)           

Thieves Like Us (1974) is a captivating crime drama that expertly blends romance and tragedy into a compelling story. Directed by Robert Altman, this film follows the turbulent relationship between two lovers on the run from the law.

The film is expertly crafted, with beautifully shot scenes that capture the essence of the era. The performances by the cast are also outstanding, with Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall delivering nuanced and powerful performances that expertly convey the complex emotions of their characters.

Thieves Like Us is a film that is both gritty and romantic, with an ending that will leave you breathless. It’s a must-see for anyone who loves crime dramas or classic cinema. Overall, this film is a true masterpiece that deserves to be seen and appreciated by film lovers everywhere.

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17. A Prairie Home Companion (2006)   

Altman’s final film is a delightful tribute to the long-running radio show of the same name. A Prairie Home Companion blends Altman’s signature ensemble style with the folksy humor and music of Garrison Keillor’s beloved program, resulting in a warm and charming slice of Americana.

The cast is a who’s who of talented performers, including Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline, and John C. Reilly, all of whom bring their A-game to the stage of the Fitzgerald Theater. The musical numbers are a highlight, with standout performances from the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Woody Harrelson.

But A Prairie Home Companion isn’t just a celebration of the show itself; it’s also a meditation on the passing of time and the impermanence of art. Altman infuses the film with a sense of melancholy, as the characters grapple with the end of an era and the uncertain future that lies ahead.

Overall, A Prairie Home Companion is a lovely swan song for Altman, and a fitting tribute to a beloved cultural institution. If you’re a fan of the show, or just looking for a gentle, low-key comedy with heart, this one is definitely worth a watch.

Prairie Home Companion
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor (Actors)
  • Robert Altman (Director) - Garrison Keillor (Writer) - Robert Altman (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Characteristics of Robert Altman Movies

Robert Altman is a film maker who has made some of the most memorable films in Hollywood history. His films can be described as movies that are both realistic and surreal. He uses characters who are ordinary, but not at all typical, and his stories often have a dreamlike quality to them.

Robert Altman’s films are known for their distinctive style. They feature realistic dialogue, which is often delivered in a deadpan manner. This style of filmmaking was developed by Wes Anderson, who studied with Altman in the 1970s and later used it on his own films.

The films of Robert Altman tend to focus on small moments and tell stories that involve an ensemble cast of characters. The main character may have a unique personality trait or background, but they are still relatable because they react realistically to situations that occur around them.

Best Robert Altman Movies – Wrapping Up

This has been a list of the best Robert Altman movies. These are all great films that you should watch if you love classic cinema.


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