We recently watched this 1971 film after not having seen it for decades. I would have to take another look at "Nashville" before crowning "McCabe" Altman's masterpiece but I strongly suspect it is. It has his usual dark humor but the wintery shots of the town of Presbyterian Church (actually built for the film), the purposely hazy photography and the use of Leonard Cohen's melancholy songs give a yearning quality to the film that's not present in most of his work. Cohen's "The Stranger Song" fits the film like it was written for it. It wasn't.
Apparently it was Altman's intention to debunk the Hollywood propagated myth of the American Frontier and he succeeded admirably but he also made his most beautiful film. The acting is all excellent and Julie Christie is amazing. Take another look at this film.