303. Almost Famous

Movie: Almost Famous

Release Date: September 13, 2000

Director: Cameron Crowe

Starring: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, Noah Taylor, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Tag Lines: “Experience it. Enjoy it. Just don’t fall for it.”

Relevance: The year 2000 was a great year for movies, at least as far as I am concerned. There are quite impressively thirteen movies from that year on my list . Three of them have already appeared (see 342. Traffic, see 330. Gladiator and see 321. Erin Brokovich). ‘Almost Famous’ is number four.

I never made it to the theater to see ‘Almost Famous.’ It was one of those movies that as soon as I saw the trailer I knew I needed to see it. A movie about music, written and directed by Cameron Crowe with a great and talented ensemble, who wouldn’t want to see it. However it slipped in and out so quickly where I was living that I somehow missed it. I had to wait to see it via my old standby, as a rental from Blockbuster. Although it might have actually been a Hollywood Video rental. My brain is a little fuzzy on that small detail. Nonetheless, the day that ‘Almost Famous’ was available to rent, I was there to grab it.

I loved the story immediately and was totally captivated by this humorous and heartwarming tale from the early 1970’s. I adore that decade. The only thing better than the sights, sounds, styles, music and fashion of the 1970’s is the sights, sounds, styles, music and fashion of the 1980’s. If you disagree, we cannot be friends. Ok, we can be friends. We can just agree to disagree. (Translation: your opinion about the 1970’s and 1980’s is wrong.) Cameron Crowe wrote and directed a masterpiece and his love for the story is evident in every single frame of the movie. His dialogue is both touching and witty and it is no surprise he was honored with the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. It is also no surprise that this is the first of three films by him to show up on my list of most influential movies of all time.

It would be very remiss of me when talking about ‘Almost Famous’ the movie to not mention ‘Almost Famous’ the soundtrack. The music for the movie is its own character, its backbone, its lifeline and its life force. As with a few movies that I have already written about so far this year, I was working in a record store when the movie was released and it sold extremely well. It remained as my “manager’s choice” CD for our in store playlist for almost a full year. A few songs from the soundtrack still pop up on my phone every now and then. Timeless.

Today’s Thoughts: I traveled alone today for four hours from Pennsylvania to New York state. When I am alone in my car, no matter the duration, there is loud music and loud singing. Guaranteed. All I do is plug in my phone, hit shuffle and let it play. About two and a half hours into my trip, the infamous piano intro to “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John started. It was very apropos considering the movie I was going to watch when I got home. Oh that universe! Needless to say the next six plus minutes I was singing at the top of my lungs.

‘Almost Famous’ was the perfect movie for me to watch after my long trip. It allowed me to unwind from traveling, it made me smile and I fell in love with it all over again. I’m sorry, but that “Tiny Dancer” scene has to be one of the most iconic scenes from the past twenty years. So good.

Frances McDormand and Kate Hudson are definite stand-outs, but overall the cast is fantastic. Even Jimmy Fallon is good. Listen, I like Jimmy a lot, but arguably he is not the greatest actor on the planet. But here, he gets a total thumbs up from me. “I once hit a man in Dearborn, Michigan.”

It’s hard to imagine that this movie was a financial flop when it was originally released. It only made $47 million at the box office with a $60 million dollar budget, despite all of its critical success, including the Oscar nominations. Thankfully, over the years it has had a strong following and became a cult classic, especially those that love movies about music.

There is only one thing I dislike about ‘Almost Famous.’ It stole the name for my autobiography. I guess I’ll have to go with my second choice. “Oliver: Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Don’t.”

I still have time to change my mind on that.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Cameron Crowe (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Kate Hudson (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Frances McDormand (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Joe Hutshing, Saar Klein (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Kate Hudson (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Frances McDormand (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Cameron Crowe (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Cameron Crowe (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Jeff Wexler, Doug Hemphill, Rick Kline, Paul Massey, Michael D. Wilhoit (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Kate Hudson (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Frances McDormand (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, Nancy Wilson (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Kate Hudson (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Frances McDormand (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Frances McDormand (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, Original, Cameron Crowe (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Breakthrough Artist, Kate Hudson (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Kate Hudson (nomination), Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Motion Picture, Cameron Crowe (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Frances McDormand (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, Frances McDormand (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Frances McDormand (nomination), PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, Cameron Crowe, Ian Bryce (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Cameron Crowe (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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