Almost Famous (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|The question here is not whether it's
good. It's very good, indeed. The question is how
did this movie - essentially a big budget Hollywood
release - avoid all the usual pitfalls and end up so honest.
First, it has the perfect combination of an indie spirit and a studio budget. They let Cameron Crowe make the movie the way he wanted to. He wrote, he directed, and he didn't have to listen to script doctors or marketing dudes. It's his vision, and he made the film the way he wanted it. Nobody told him what was funny. Nobody told him to dumb stuff down. Indy auteurs do this all the time, but they don't have DreamWorks supporting them. Crowe has had some real artistic and commercial successes (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire), and DreamWorks rolled the dice on him.
Second, this is his one great story. Most artists have exactly one great story inside of them. Tarkovsky had Andrei Rublov- cut in the passion of his love for the forces that shaped Russian history. Spielberg had Schindler's List - which was fed by his emotional involvement with the number one story of our century. Welles had Citizen Kane, which was fueled by his own relationship with Citizen Hearst. This one is Crowe's one big story, telling his most interesting life experience.
I should point out that he also wrote the book Fast Times at Ridgemont High out of his own experience in going back to high school "undercover" in order to analyze the social interactions of adolescents. That was a good yarn as well, but not quite as universally interesting as his own work for Rolling Stone in the very heartbeat of American pop culture.
|Third, it just so happens that in his case the one story is based on his own life, and real people that he knew. And, as a bonus, he didn't tell the story until he was far enough distanced from it, and old enough and wise enough to see it more clearly.||
just so happens that his story is about something that
most of us think is a very interesting topic indeed: art,
truth, stardom, and retaining one's humanity in the world
of big time rock 'n roll. That was especially interesting
in the 70's, when rock became less important than rock
A great combination of factors.
I think the characters are beautifully realized. Crowe created them vividly in real human form, he painted them with a love for humanity, and he cast the roles beautifully. Then he somehow communicated to his actors what those characters were about, and got them to deliver his vision. Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, unknown Patrick Fugit, and Philip Seymour Hoffman deliver uncanny multi-dimensional characterizations of real people. Hoffman's failure to get an Oscar nomination is inexplicable.
And the dialogue is dynamite. As always, his characters actually say interesting things to each other in interesting ways. The phone conversation at the end between the kid and Hoffman is as intelligent and touching and honest as any dialogue I've ever heard in a Hollywood movie. I also like the chats between Crudup, the taciturn but charming rock star, and McDormand, the loquacious professorial mom.
I don't know if this should be "best picture" or "best director", but nobody wrote better dialogue. And finally, how many movies have the elements necessary to please both the mass audiences and the toughest critics? Cameron Crowe - you are DA man.
I thought this would be a good time to review the Year 2000 films, and see which ones were best received, which may or may not be Oscar candidates. The listings below are ordered from best to worst by adding together the three scores. An IMDb 8.0 was converted to 80%, therefore giving Chicken Run 280%, etc.
I thought Gladiator was a pretty good entertainment picture, but as you can see it is far, far down the list.
|This table shows the
Golden Globe best comedy nominees. Chocolat is probably
the worst film on the list, and was the only one
nominated for an Oscar.
In fact, Chocolat probably shouldn't even have made the Golden Globes list of five, because High Fidelity seems to be mysteriously absent.
|Golden Globe nominees:
top 10 for 2000:
Berardinelli gave a half a star to:
Ebert gave four stars to:
Ebert gave 1/2 of a star to:
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