Cameron Crowe has had his ups and downs as a filmmaker, but Almost Famous remains his most personal and heartfelt. Based loosely on his experiences as a (very young) rock journalist in the 70s, it follows a precocious teenager (Patrick Fugit) who finds himself in the inner circle of a successful band on the road. It’s sweet, funny and very wise — the epitome of the director at his best — as well as featuring great supporting performances from the likes of Frances McDormand, Billy Crudup and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. It opened today in 2000.
When American Beauty first came out, it was hailed as a masterpiece of suburban angst and the hollow pursuits of consumer society. Time hasn’t been kind to it — it’s not the classic we thought at the time — but it still contains powerful moments and Kevin Spacey’s performance as a father who gleefully embarks upon his own undoing is still breathtaking to behold. It opened today in 1999.