Shelley Duvall (Image via Far Out Magazine)

10 best Shelley Duvall movies, ranked

Shelley Duvall's filmography dates back to 1970s and is a rather diverse one.

The American actress has appeared in a variety of commercially successful as well as critically acclaimed films. While Stanley Kubrick's The Shining remains her most popular work, she has also been part of several other famous films like Annie Hall and Time Bandits.

Shelley Duvall (Image via Us Weekly)

Duvall's image with a fan recently went viral on the internet because of how unrecognizable she looked, as claimed by fans. Most people on the internet have been making speculations about her well-being considering how she has spoken quite a bit about her mental health before.

Here is a list of the best films that Shelley Duvall has been a part of.


Disclaimer: This ranking purely contains the author's opinions.


Shelley Duvall's finest films, ranked

10) Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)

Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (Image via Letterboxd)

Duvall has been part of a number of films by Robert Altman. Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson is one such film that tried to redefine people's understanding of American history. The film aimed to rewrite the narrative of American heroism and the idea that white men who fought native Americans had noble intentions.


Shelley Duvall plays Grover Cleveland, wife of the President, sharing the screen with an ensemble cast which included Paul Newman, Geraldine Chaplin, and Burt Lancaster, among others. Although she doesn't have too much screen space, she fits into her role perfectly.

9) Roxanne (1987)

Roxanne (Image via IMDB)

In this light film about a long-nosed fireman who falls for a woman named Roxanne whilst helping his co-worker woo her, Shelley Duvall plays the lead character's god-sister Dixie. The film was widely appreciated as it introduced a lot of tropes that went on to be used in romantic films for generations to come.

Dixie's character was portrayed wonderfully by Duvall despite it not being the main character.

8) Brewster McCloud (1970)

Brewster McCloud (Image via TCM)

Yet another Robert Altman film, Brewster McCloud was the first Altman film that Shelley Duvall was a part of. The film revolves around a lonely young introvert who tries to build wings and fly away. Duvall played the role of a distraction for the young boy as he is on a mission to successfully build those wings.

The film is subtly fantastical and heartwarming to watch, to which Duvall's performance adds a lot.

7) Thieves Like Us (1974)

Thieves Like Us (Image via IMDB)

Thieves Like Us is another politically loud film that speaks a lot about life during the economic depression. It follows three bank robbers in the southern part of the United States. Shelley Duvall plays Keechie, an innocent woman who one of the robbers falls in love with.

The production design in the film makes the aesthetic suitable for the period it is set in. The vibe of the film is very consistent and has received widespread appreciation.

6) Time Bandits (1981)

Time bandits (Image via Radio Times)

Shelley Duvall's role in Time Bandits is unlike most of her roles in other films. It is a fantasy film that features a group of dwarves who travel through time and steal treasures from various eras. When a young history fanatic joins them, things take an interesting turn.

Duvall plays a wealthy woman from the middle ages and the group accidentally stumbles upon her. The film includes references to many famous historical images and pop-culture figures, making it an interesting watch.

5) McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Image via Cagey Films)

McCabe and Mrs. Miller redefined cinematic standards in many ways. The film follows a prostitute and a gambler on their journey as business partners as they have to fight off encroaching businesses. The film was widely appreciated for its novel approach to filmmaking and the authenticity of storytelling.

The film features some of the most convincing performances in American cinema, including the performance of Shelley Duvall.

4) Nashville (1975)

Nashville (image via IMDB)

Nashville is another Altman film that features Shelley Duvall as Martha, who returns home from her life as a country music groupie to visit her dying aunt. However, she spends most of her time with the musicians she meets. Nashville's brilliant characterisation of all the roles made it one of the finest films of those times.

It features an ensemble cast with great performances from each of the actors.

3) 3 Women (1977)

3 Women (Image via The Guardian)

3 Women tells the tale of three women who started living together and how they affected each other's lives. Duvall plays Mildred, an outgoing woman who then lets a shy young woman move in with her. The character arcs in the film are some of the best in modern cinema and are considered some of Altman's best works.

The film was appreciated for how unique it was and for pushing boundaries in terms of filmmaking.

2) Annie Hall (1977)

Annie Hall (Image via Decider)

Annie Hall isn't as innovative as the other films on the list. However, it went on to become one of the greatest American films purely because of its quirky writing and relatability. Shelley Duvall plays one of the protagonist's date who helps him realize that he loves Annie more than he thought.

Duvall's performance as a reporter who obsesses over Bob Marley is extremely amusing to watch.

1) The Shining (1980)

The Shining (Image via Mamamia)

The Shining is one of the most memorable works not just of Shelley Duvall, but also of Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson. The film redefined the horror movie genre and went on to win accolades for generations to come. The film revolves around a writer who isolates along with his family but ends up on the verge of insanity.

Shelley Duvall's performance as the stuck wife of the writer and a mother to a young boy is carefully crafted as she adds to the eeriness of the film while also having the viewers side with her.

The aforementioned movies remain some of the actress' most memorable films even long after her retirement.

Edited by
Abhipsa Choudhury
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