13. “Nashville”, Robert Altman (1975)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.



dir. Robert Altman scr. Joan Tewkesbury cin. Paul Lohmann with David Arkin, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Timothy Brown, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert DoQui, Shelley Duvall, Allen Garfield, Henry Gibson, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Harris, David Hayward, Michael Murphy, Allan F. Nicholls, Dave Peel, Cristina Raines, Bert Remsen, Lily Tomlin, Gwen Welles, Keenan Wynn, and Thomas Hal Phillips

In 100 words: An intimidating canvas brimming with rich characterizations and numerous stories: at times on the verge of breaking apart by the sheer size of its cast and the extensiveness of its storytelling, but astonishingly holds steady for three hours. Altman’s technique in overlapping sounds adds vibrant texture to the precise images of faces, crowds, and a synchronized cast. Impeccable study of America and its complexities during the 1970s: post-Vietnam War emotions, relevant economic anxieties, the blending of politics and entertainment, and celebrity. But within such a huge tapestry, Altman finds the poetry of the lonely, the desperate, and the left behind.

Other Movies for Context: This was such a great movie mostly because Altman managed to hone in on the personal amid such a huge cast. He does the same level of intimate portrait within a huge gallery of characters in films like McCabe and Mrs Miller (1972), his revisionist take on westerns, Gosford Park (2001), my favorite after Nashville set in Downton Abbey-style English manor, The Player (1993) which kind of left me cold, and A Prairie Home Companion (2005), which feels most similar to this movie in terms of country music roots.

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