Posted on Friday, May 29th, 2015 by Germain Lussier
“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” – Lester Bangs, Almost Famous
With that quote, writer director Cameron Crowe smashed through levels upon levels of truth. He’s talking about art, he’s talking about loss, he’s talking about individuality, basically he’s talking about everything. What we talk about among friends is what defines us and the films of Cameron Crowe have always been about that. They’ve been about more too, but they’ve always have been about the human experience. In the best cases, Crowe’s words, choice of music and actors have greatly enhanced that human experience too, making the uncool cool.
This week marks the release of Crowe’s eight narrative feature, Aloha. It’s a film fans have anticipated for sometime, mostly because we trust in the work of this iconic, wonderful filmmaker. To celebrate the occasion, we’ve ranked all eight of his narrative features films (he’s done two documentaries too, Pearl Jam Twenty and The Union, which we’ve omitted just to keep things focused). What’s number one? Below, read our rankings of the best Cameron Crowe movies
Degrees of Uncool: The Best Cameron Crowe Movies
8. Aloha (2015)
Aloha feels like every single Cameron Crowe movie shoved into one. That’s not a good thing. The film, which is kind of, but not really, about a military contractor torn between two loves, never knows what it wants to be. In one moment it’s poetic. The next it’s philosophical. Then it’s cool and sweet, followed by romantic. It always tries to be very nature-conscious and there’s a heavy dose of Hawaiian mythology thrown in for good measure. There are multiple love stories, not all of which make sense, scenes that explain what’s happening after they’ve already happened, the list goes on and on. Some Cameron Crowe charm still emerges thanks to the settings, performances and music, but unfortunately, Aloha never comes together like we know a Crowe film can.
7. Elizabethtown (2005)
The last fifteen minutes of Elizabethtown are as good as anything Cameron Crowe has ever made. There’s energy, there’s wonder, there’s that unique blend of music, visuals and nostalgia that the filmmaker has probably done better than anyone. However, the rest of the movie simply doesn’t hold up to its finale. The odd ball love story is packed full of fun characters and joyful moments. Even the story is original and offbeat. But the complexities of blending a tale of redemption, love, death, loss and more are always struggling with each other throughout the film. It’s underrated, but definitely a step below the rest of the films.
6. We Bought A Zoo (2011)
Where Aloha and Elizabethtown suffer a bit because they are too ambitious, We Bought a Zoo succeeds for being the opposite. In classic Crowe fashion, this family story about doing the dumbest thing in the world – buying a zoo – is unique and full of heart. From there, things don’t really go too far off the path. There’s great music, a nice love story and some solid performances from top to bottom. The result is a heartwarming, albeit it slightly forgettable film that does everything right, but nothing spectacular.
5. Vanilla Sky (2001)
Your appreciation for Vanilla Sky can likely be answered with a simple question. “Did you see this or the original version first?” If you saw this version first – like many of us did – you probably enjoy the film more than the others. Crowe didn’t change too, too much from the original film (1997’s Abre los ojos by Alejandro Amenábar) so depending on which you experienced first, this fascinating, brutal, but beautiful story probably worked best that way. There are stunning visuals in the movie, a wonderful lead performance and some of Crowe’s best musical choices. It’s a powerful, surprising film whose biggest flaw is that it’s a Cameron Crowe version of someone else’s movie.