1. Almost Famous – This quirky, ensemble driven story of rock n’ roll in the early 1970’s captured my attention many years ago, and after watching it literally hundreds of times, I have come to the conclusion that it is truly my favorite movie of the last ten years, and one of my favorite of all time.
First off, the actors all truly bring their A-game, especially Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand. McDormand perfectly captures the overprotective, paranoid mother, whose only dreams are to see her kids happy, and more importantly, safe. Kate on the other hand, did something she had never done before (and hasn’t done since, unfortunately). She perfectly captured the part of the seemingly happy groupie (excuse me, she was a “band-aid”), who only wants to be with the man she loves, but happily and continually puts on the act of a free-spirit without a care in the world. In fact, all of the characters each bring a different, yet somehow coherent personality to the story that provides for an eclectic mix, and a unified storylines. Patrick Fugit, as the young journalist who disguises his voice to write for Rolling Stone, and go on the road with Stillwater, plays perfectly the innocent teenage whose big eyes and quiet demeanor, eagerly soak in the insanity and coolness of the world around him. Billy Crudup hits the right notes as the selfish, too-talented-for-his –own good lead guitarist who thinks he is too good for the people he is with. I also found Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s small role as Lester Bangs to be one of the best of his career (and that is saying something). Overall, everyone contributes nicely, but in my opinion, it all comes back to Kate. She reminded me so much of her mother, the way she brightened up every scene, and perfectly combined comedy and drama in a flawed and effortless effort.
Cameron Crowe should also be commended for writing this incredible story, based on his own life experiences. He perfectly captures the comedic movie, as well as combines the elements of sex, drugs, and rock into a story that never seems contrived, forced, or overused.
For me however, the true reason I love this movie is the lessons it teaches us about life. As a 19 year old college student, the true magic of this movie lies in the subtle messages about growing up. It took a 15 year old who knew nothing about the life of rock stars, to make all of the so-called adults in the story realize that they were hiding from reality, and that the only things that matter are the people that are in your life. That is something we can all learn, and more importantly, this movie was a hell of a good time.