What makes a movie someone’s favourite movie?
I can’t speak for everyone and what they choose to proclaim as the movie that tops all others for them. I actually can’t barely put into words why my movie is my favourite in an articulate way. If you don’t know me or put two and two together from the image above, my favourite movie is Almost Famous. A coming of age story based on the true stories of a young Cameron Crowe being a Rock N’ Roll journalist in the 70s.
There are so many components that makes this movie utterly captivity, insanely rewatchable and irrevocably timeless. They all collide, scramble together and present themselves into a movie that I can’t help but say is my favourite of all time.
I think I was around the same age as William in the movie when I first encountered Almost Famous. To the earliest I can remember, I was also entranced by stories and the ability to tell a story. I was always reading and writing as a kid. I always wanted to be a writer. Nothing else made sense to me. While I might not have wanted to immediately be a journalist like William Miller, I was drawn to his uninhibited passion to music and translating that into written word. He simply wanted to write and had no ulterior motive. That’s how I felt and still feel. Seeing a character like that at a young age was equally motivation and daunting to me. That passion was there for me but many other aspects anchored me down from fulfilling my childhood dreams in that moment. I connected with William so much and envied this crazy journey he took with Stillwater, Penny Lane and the crew of Band-Aids. When I found out that it was inspired by the screenwriter and director Cameron Crowe’s own experiences, that blew my mind completely out of my head.
The cast. THE CAST. Where to begin?
There are far too many times that I see Patrick Fugit in now and beam like a proud mom to see him still acting. So many young actors in movies I loved as a kid just seem to fall off acting. But Fugit is still killing and YOU’RE DOING SO GOOD SWEETIE! Also Michael Angarano as eleven year old (ELEVEN!) William… I feel the same way about you too. Don’t worry.
Frances McDormand is literally a goddess and you tell me a movie that she was bad in. Tell me. I’ll wait…
Elaine Miller is one of the most perfect movie moms. She’s protective, loving, absurd and only wants to see the best for her kids whether she agrees with their choices or not. The complicity of both her relationships with William and Anita are so nuanced and real. No matter how she may come across, her actions always come from a place of love for her kids.
The close up of Anita telling William he will one day be cool, her giving William her collection of albums or her screaming ‘Feck You’ to Elaine before taking off on her own adventure, Zooey Deschanel is the effortless cool older sister we all want.
Kate Hudson captured magic and contained it into a film as Penny Lane. The enigma of a young woman who is as much William’s guide as she is ours into the inner world of the 70s Rock music scene.
When you think the most rockstar, Russell Hammond is the perfect example. He’s arrogant, broody and for lack of a better word, an asshole. Billy Crudup provides such a nuanced performance making you forget all these traits and fall in love with Russell. Like a moth to the flame, you’re drawn to him just like William and Penny for better or worse.
You’ve got the great and late Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs the jaded mentor of William and Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe the self involved and charming lead singer (aren’t all rockstars kind of self involved though?). The Band-Aids that include 90s-00s queens Fairuza Balk and Anna Paquin. Also Jimmy Fallon, Rainn Wilson, Jay Baruchel, Eric Stonestreet and so many more recognizable faces show up as well.
So ya… the cast. It’s pretty good.
If you are familiar with any of Cameron Crowe’s work, you know you can be assured two things: A great script and even better music. This should come as no surprise by my previous saying that he wrote this movie as a loose autobiography. Tiny Dancer by Elton John is forever engrained in my mind as a dysfunctional band and their collective coming together through their love for music.
The score by Nancy Wilson carries you in gently through the entire movie.
The original music for the fictional band Stillwater would easily fit into the music of the time period and be hit songs. Fever Dog is a banger.
How many times I’ve seen movies about music and bands and it’s so evident that an instrument was placed in their hands seconds before the director yells action is laughable. The members of Stillwater went through Rock boot camp with Peter Frampton, a close friend of Cameron Crowe. So fucking cool.
Okay. How much I quote this movie is off the charts. Most of my favourite movies fall into this to be honest. But Almost Famous has some great ones. I will now listen some of my favourites:
- “It’s all happening!”
- “I’m a golden god!”
- ”Purple! Your aura is purple!”
- “I didn’t invent the rainy day, man. I just own the best umbrella.”
- ”I have to go home.” “You are home.”
- ”I’m incendiary too, man!”
- “If you ever get lonely, you just go to a record store and visit your friends.”
- “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”
It won best screenplay at the Oscars. I don’t need to carry on. BUT I COULD!
I find with a lot of my favourite movies that they all come around to one factor and that’s the overall feeling they give me. I, as a movie watcher, want to come away with something from a movie. I’d love to watch a movie and feel like I’ve learned something or expanded my knowledge of something I thought I knew. Now that isn’t always the case and a movie certainly doesn’t always need to be that deep. I think what I’m going for is that I want to be affected. Whether it’s the vicariousness, the push to learn more about music of the time period and the overall warmth provided from Almost Famous, I can only say I love it. I truly love it.
And to truly finish this off in the cheesiest way possible…
What do I love about Almost Famous?
To begin with…everything.