best film:   Technically, it is Nashville but that is not just a small part- it is literally a cameo as she plays herself- Julie Christie. She says hi basically and that is it (though Altman’s use of cameos are a bit more fun than others) so Nashville does not count.  With Altman’s masterpiece out of the running, the question of Julie Christie’s best film is left to three potential films: Doctor Zhivago, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and Don’t Look Now. These are three superior films with distinct voices from their auteurs (David Lean, Robert Altman, and Nicolas Roeg). Don’t Look Now narrowly defeats the two other films – but there are multiple right answers here in this category for Christie.


Christie playing another “Laura”- this time Laura Baxter opposite Donald Sutherland in Roeg’s dazzling horror film. Christie portrays her character with a raw, honest grief.


best performance:  There are three real contenders here as well- the same options from the category above.  Yet here Don’t Look Now is certainly third place. The order is reversed from the category above actually with second place going to McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Christie’s strongest work coming from Doctor Zhivago. Christie plays Laura- and what a character, performance and coming out party (part of her 1965 along with her work in Darling) for Christie. Christie is luminous as Laura.  An actor may have never been lit more affectionately by a director than David Lean lights Christie here as Omar Sharif’s tragic lover. Sharif is solid in the film – Rod Steiger and Tom Courtenay absolutely kill it in their more limited screen time – but it is Christie who walks off with the best overall performance in the film. She is beautiful, authentic, resilient as Laura.


Christie clearly would have succeeded in any era in cinema history- here from David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago


stylistic innovations/traits:   Stealing from the internet here but apparently Al Pacino called Christie “the most poetic of all actresses”.  Christie exploded on the scene in 1965 at age 25 to win the best actress Oscar for Darling and be the lead in the much-anticipated Lawrence of Arabia follow-up epic from David Lean (which made an avalanche of money – second most in 1965 behind Sound of Music) which went on to be nominated for ten Oscars. Darling came out in the late summer of 1965 and Zhivago came out in December of 65’ and she was a big star at that point- probably getting the first look at every great role for young actresses for a few years. She transitioned well from the old guard (David Lean, 1960s) to the New Hollywood (1970s with Ashby, Altman, Beatty) with a quick stop in-between to work with Truffaut and the French New Wave. In the 1990s and 2000s she would occasionally remind the world of her talent in films like Afterglow (with Altman acolyte Alan Rudolph) and Away from Her even if the films themselves could not manage to be on their respective year’s top ten. Christie has a whopping eighteen (18) archiveable films with fewer than fifty (50) total film credits, so her quality ratio is extremely high. In fact, from 1965 to 1978 (certainly her peak) starting with Darling, she appears in she appears in thirteen (13) total films- and twelve (12) of them are in the archives.


Christie as at least Warren Beatty’s equal (probably surpassing him) in McCabe & Mrs. Miller


directors worked with:   Robert Altman (two-2 counting Nashville), John Schlesinger (2) and then Nicolas Roeg, Hal Ashby, François Truffaut, David Lean, Joseph Losey, Warren Beatty, James Ivory, Alan Rudolph, Kenneth Branagh and Alfonso Cuaron once.


Christie succeeded in her career without tying herself to one auteur. Schlesinger (Far from the Madding Crowd here) is the only director where Christie had two real quality performances with. They collaborated here and in Christie’s 1965 breakout Darling.



top five performances:

  1. Doctor Zhivago
  2. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
  3. Don’t Look Now
  4. Far from the Madding Crowd
  5. Darling




archiveable films

1965- Darling
1965- Doctor Zhivago
1966- Fahrenheit 451
1967- Far from the Madding Crowd
1968- Petulia
1971- McCabe & Mrs. Miller
1971- The Go-Between
1973- Don’t Look Now
1975- Nashville
1975- Shampoo
1977- Demon Seed
1978- Heaven Can Wait
1983- Heat and Dust
1996- Hamlet
1997- Afterglow
2004- Finding Neverland
2004- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2006- Away from Her




**source for Al Pacino line