Coming-of-age tales have always given the Academy a warm, fuzzy feeling, and if voters don’t mind delving into the seedy world of rock ‘n’ roll, “Almost Famous” could pick up a pic nom.
The film received excellent reviews but fell short at the box office, one of DreamWorks’ few financial disappointments in 2000. Whether that plays into the minds of voters remains to be seen. The same good reviews, bad box office scenario played out for “The Insider” last year, which was well represented on Oscar night with seven nominations but came up short when it came to taking home the gold.
Here, Cameron Crowe fondly looks back into his teen years as a young critic for Rolling Stone magazine; a look at the maturation of a well-liked lad is a fairly comon theme among best pic noms. The most recent example of films chronicling a young boy’s journey into manhood that were favored by Oscar was Lasse Hallstrom’s 1999 adaptation of John Irving’s “The Cider House Rules.” Other recent favored sons are 1997’s “Good Will Hunting” and 1992’s “Scent of a Woman.”
And don’t think the Acad are a bunch of old fogies who can’t appreciate an electric guitar (think Hilary Swank over Annette Bening): 1979’s “The Rose,” Bette Midler’s journey into the rock abyss, cued up actress (Midler) and supporting actor (Frederic Forrest) noms.
Writer-director Crowe is looking for consecutive pic and writing noms as he was tabbed for both in his last effort, 1996’s “Jerry Maguire.” He was passed over for director, though, and he has an opportunity to rectify that here.
On the acting front, Frances McDormand received terrific notices as the petrified mom, watching her teenage son leave home. She captured actress honors as the pregnant cop in 1996’s “Fargo” and was nominated for her supporting role as a redneck deputy’s wife in 1988’s “Mississippi Burning.” In a film that is very much an ensemble piece, McDormand might very well have the best chances of receiving a nomination among all the actors.
Kate Hudson, as band aid Penny Lane, has a chance for her first nomination.
Cinematographer John Toll is no stranger to Oscar; he is the only d.p. to have won two years in a row: 1994’s “Legends of the Fall” and 1995’s “Braveheart.” He and production designers Clay Griffith and Clayton Hartley help Crowe paint a picture of 1970s America as the band Stillwater tours the country.
Crowe’s wife and Heart co-founder, Nancy Wilson, could land a nom in either the song or score music categories.