Her breakthrough came in 1971, with a performance in The Last Picture Show that earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. She received another Oscar nomination for The Exorcist (1973), then won an Oscar and a BAFTA for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1975). Burstyn received two more Oscar nominations for her re-creation of her Tony Award-winning role in the film adaptation of Same Time, Next Year (1978) and for Resurrection (1980).
Other notable films include The King of Marvin Gardens, Requiem for a Dream (which won her an Independent Spirit Award) and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. In 2006, she earned an Emmy nod for her turn in the TV drama Mrs. Harris.