Almost Famous is a 2000 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe, and starring Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit. It tells the story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1970s, his touring with the fictitious rock band Stillwater, and his efforts to get his first cover story published. The film is semi-autobiographical, as Crowe himself was a teenage writer for Rolling Stone.
The film received widespread acclaim from critics and received four Academy Award nominations, including a win for Best Original Screenplay. It was also awarded the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Roger Ebert hailed it the best film of the year as well as the ninth-best film of the 2000s. It also won two Golden Globe Awards, for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture (Hudson). In a 2016 international poll conducted by BBC, Almost Famous was ranked the 79th greatest film since 2000. In a Hollywood Reporter 2014 list voted on by "studio chiefs, Oscar winners and TV royalty", Almost Famous was ranked the 71st greatest film of all time. A stage musical adaptation of the film opened on Broadway in October 2022.
Plot - In San Diego 1969, child prodigy William Miller struggles to fit in. His life is further complicated after learning that his widowed college-professor mother Elaine has falsely led him to believe he is twelve years old. William is actually eleven, having started the first grade at five years old, and skipping fifth grade. Strong-willed Elaine's strict ban on rock music and her fear of pop culture have a negative effect on her children, finally driving William's 18-year-old sister Anita to move to San Francisco and become a flight attendant.
In 1973, William, now fifteen, influenced by Anita's secret cache of rock albums, aspires to be a rock journalist, writing freelance articles for underground papers in San Diego. Rock journalist Lester Bangs, impressed with William's writing, gives him a $35 assignment to review a Black Sabbath concert. William is barred from backstage until the opening band Stillwater arrives and William flatters his way in. Lead guitarist Russell Hammond takes a liking to him and his new acquaintance, veteran groupie Penny Lane, who has taken William under her wing. Despite behaving as stereotypical groupies, Penny Lane insists she and her friends are "band aids", a term she invented to describe female fans that are there more for the music than for the rock stars themselves.
Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres hires William to write an article about Stillwater, based on his skills, and sends him on the road with the band. William interviews the other band members, but Russell repeatedly puts him off. Tensions between Russell and lead singer Jeff Bebe soon become evident and not helped at all by the band's first t-shirt, a full band shot that pictures Russell in full view while the rest of the band is in the shadows. William is jokingly called "the enemy" by the band as he is a journalist, but he gradually begins to lose his objectivity as he becomes integrated into their inner circle.
The record label hires Dennis, a professional manager, to handle problems with venues and promoters. Penny has to leave before the band reaches New York, where Russell's girlfriend Leslie will join them. Penny and her three protégée band aids are gambled away to another band in a poker game; Penny acts nonchalantly but is devastated. Meanwhile, Dennis charters a small plane so the band can play more gigs.
Penny shows up uninvited at the New York restaurant where they are celebrating the news that they are to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. Penny is asked to leave after Leslie notices her attempts to get Russell's attention. William chases her to her hotel, where he saves her from overdosing on quaaludes.
Flying to a gig the following day, the plane encounters severe weather. Fearing the plane will crash, everyone confesses their secrets, while Jeff and Russell's long-simmering conflicts erupt. William confesses his love for Penny after Jeff insults her. The plane lands safely in Tupelo, leaving everyone to ponder the changed atmosphere.
William arrives at the Rolling Stone office in San Francisco but has difficulty finishing the article. Seeking help, he calls Lester Bangs who says William got caught up in being part of the band. He says his perceived friendships with them are not real and advises him to "be honest...and unmerciful." Rolling Stone's editors rave over William's completed article, but when the magazine's fact checker calls the band, Russell lies to protect Stillwater's image and claims most of it is false. Rolling Stone kills the article, crushing William. Anita encounters a dejected William in the airport and offers to take him anywhere; he chooses for them to go to their home in San Diego, where their mother Elaine is glad to see both of them.
Sapphire, one of the protégée "Band Aids", chastises Russell for betraying William. He then calls Penny, wanting to meet with her, but she gives him William's address. He arrives and finds himself face-to-face with William's mother who, during the tour, scolded him over the phone for his behavior. Russell apologizes to William and finally gives him an interview. Russell has verified William's article to Rolling Stone, which runs it as a cover feature. Penny fulfills her long-standing fantasy to go to Morocco while Stillwater tours again by bus.