1. Almost Famous (2000)
So in considering 10 years worth of movies, some incredible amazing movies I’ll remember and revisit always, and then again some starring Larry the Cable Guy, why is Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” my #1 favorite? I guess I probably chose it because I think it’s a perfect movie. It does everything that only the best movies can. It transports you to a world that you otherwise would not be privy to – in this case the world of a rock and roll band on the verge of superstardom during the early 1970’s – and lets you enter this world through they eyes of a likeably innocent character anyone can relate to, a character you can enjoy watching transform before your eyes. Here that character is a 15-year-old boy who is hired by Rolling Stone to go on the road with the band to interview them. Pure nonsense you say, a 15 yr old boy hired as a Rolling Stone journalist? How can I emotionally invest myself in a film with such an outlandish plot? Well, it’s pretty much a true story. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this film and his inspiration for it were the teenage years he spent as a journalist for Rolling Stone (he was hired at 15), especially the times he spent touring with such bands as Led Zeppelin and The Allman Brothers Band. Because Crowe really lived in the world he recreates in this film, every moment and detail rings true.
A summary of the plot of this movie can’t do justice to what makes this movie so special and memorable. Let me allay your fears – this film is not at all about journalism, but it is very much about the passion that goes into writing about something you love. I can watch this film over and over because it effortlessly recreates a time and place that is long gone, and the film is overflowing with lovable and entertaining characters every which way you turn (standout performances abound in this film by the likes of Billy Crudup, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee, Kate Hudson giving an Academy Award nominated performance making you realize there is much more to her than A-Rod, Zooey Deschanel and a young Patrick Fugit as Crowe’s doppleganger). And oh yeah, the music, how can I forget. The “Almost Famous” soundtrack is pretty much a bible of 70’s rock, with standout track after standout track, the pinnacle being Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” because it instantly takes you back to one of the film’s most memorable scenes as a bus full of budding rock stars, groupies, roadies and our young journalist perform a mass sing-a-long to Elton’s classic. Its difficult to watch this film without secretly wishing you could transport yourself to the early 70’s and go on the road with this somewhat motley crue.
Based on the box office performance of this film, its quite likely that many of you have never seen this film, even as it has remained a cable TV staple over the last ten years (On some weekends I think it gives “The Shawshank Redemption” a run for the money in the number of times it re-runs). So if you haven’t seen it shame on you! But its ok, there is a quick and worthy fix– check out the director’s cut on DVD/Blu-Ray which somehow makes this perfect film even more extraordinary.
I guess its really not a surprise that my #1 choice is a Cameron Crowe film given that he has written and/or directed some of my other all time favorites including “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1981), “Say Anything” (1989), and “Jerry Maguire” (1997). So far Crowe is batting a thousand in my book for having at least one all-time classic film per decade since he burst on the movie-making scene in 1981 with his screenplay for “Fast Times”. His last few efforts (“Vanilla Sky” (2001) and “Elizabethtown” (2005)) have disappointed, but I eagerly anticipate what he has in store for movie lovers everywhere next!
So there you have it, you can close the book on the 00’s. Before you do, you can let me know if you agree/disagree and chime in with your top 10 favorites. Find me on twitter @smarthollywood and also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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