When Rolling Stone magazine wrote an article, The 50 Best Movies America of the Past 50 Years last month, Nashville topped the list.
Robert Altman was probably the hippest director in Hollywood when he decided to take on the capital of Country. This was 1975. America was gearing up for the Bicentennial celebrations and trying to lay Watergate to rest… Altman imagined a grassroots Presidential campaign cultivating the C&W constituency – thus supplying a focal point to his satiric panorama. But with 26 actors getting more-or-less equal screen time and half of them singing their own tunes, it’s a bit like an open mic night at the Opry. Half the time you don’t know whether to laugh or cry – which is just how Altman wants it.
Everywhere you look there are vignettes to savour: Geraldine Chaplin’s wicked caricature of an excruciating BBC journalist is one extreme; Lily Tomlin’s sympathetic mother of two is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Keith Carradine ambles off with the musical honours for two soft folkie anthems – but it’s not a soundtrack you’ll covet. Nashville may not match MASH for farcical hilarity, but of all Altman’s movies it’s probably the most influential, the richest in embarrassments.
Still the best movie ever made about America and a source of consternation to several decades of the domestic songwriting industry…Robert Altman’s 1975 epic of political mobility, human sprawl, alienation and the marketing of the authentic just grows more and more relevant to being alive. The pointillist bits of tragedy and rapture that we glean from social media feeds today are all there in this deeply human tapestry — the technology is alien, but the emotions are all too relatable. An RPG of circumstance and ambition, a slow-motion collision between fame and infamy, and a wrenching musical about an industry built on hard-won personal truth, Nashville is a daunting masterpiece that remains deeply accessible.
Jason Shawhan, Nashville Scene
It’s a musical, it’s a political parable, it’s a docudram about the Nashville scene. But more than anything else, it is a tender poem to the wounded and the sad.
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
An orgy for movie-lovers… a pure emotional high… the funniest epic vision of America ever to reach the screen.
Pauline Kael, The New Yorker
Has there ever been a more sprawling, shaggy, tragicomic portrait of the American experiment than Robert Altman’s musical mural of a movie?
David Fear, Rolling Stone
David Arkin, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Timothy Brown, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Lily Tomlin
Best Song (Keith Carradine), Academy Awards 1976
Martin Starger, Jerry Weintraub
Dennis Hill, Sidney Levin