Every Cameron Crowe Movie Ranked
Often responsible for difficult-to-market and idiosyncratic films, Cameron Crowe is just as much a music lover as a filmmaker. A former journalist at Rolling Stone, it makes sense that music often plays a huge part in his movies. Still, his filmography is nothing short of indescribable, with a broad range of topics touched on over the course of his decades-long career. Most known for his classics of the 80s and 90s and his occasional missteps throughout the 21st century, Crowe seems to be both grappling with his past and trying to recreate the successes of his early career. Whether or not he manages to score another huge hit as he did so often earlier in his career remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: Crowe still has plenty to be proud of.
His most autobiographical film to date, Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous is all about a 1970s Rolling Stone journalist as he follows around a band hoping to get his first cover story. The film’s cast — comprised of Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit — helps elevate this film to a whole new level, but Crowe’s foundations and technical work behind the camera are just as laudable.
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A late 80s classic that deserves to rank among some of John Hughes’s best, Say Anything… tells the story of an underachiever and a valedictorian who can’t help but fall for one another. Young John Cusack is the star of the show alongside actress Ione Skye, while Crowe’s direction shows promise of the director he’d go on to become once the 90s came around. It’s an early work, but an essential one nonetheless.
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Starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Renée Zellweger, Crowe’s 1996 film Jerry Maguire might be his most quotable (and definitely one of his most notable) work to date. With lines like “Show me the money” and “You had me at hello” continuing to remain in the pop culture pantheon all these years later, Crowe’s film clearly has something magic about it. Plus, it’s nice to see Cruise in a lighthearted role like this one.
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Fast Times at Ridgemont High
A classic film from Crowe’s career shares credit with another — namely director Amy Heckerling, who undoubtedly added her own flourishes to the script that Crowe wrote. Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Jason Leigh show a lot of potential at this early point in their careers, as does Crowe — they’d all go on to be huge names in the coming years.
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Cameron Crowe’s comedy Singles is not a very original piece of work when it comes to the story — a group of aimless twenty-somethings search for love and purpose, to great comedic effect. What sets it apart from other movies of its kind is Crowe’s clever dialogue and the cast’s performances. Matt Dillon is especially great here.
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Another collaboration between Cruise and Crowe, Vanilla Sky has been described as a romantic science fiction mind-bender. Costarring Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, Cruise and the gang do their best to make something out of Crowe’s uneven script. It’s a remake of a Spanish-language film, and viewers might be better off watching that one. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not Cameron’s best.
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We Bought a Zoo
Based on a true story, Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo tells the story of a father who… well, buys a zoo. It’s a strange idea and, to be honest, a strange movie, but Matt Damon does a good job with the material handed to him. Patrick Fugit from Almost Famous reunites with Crowe here, even though the two films have next-to-nothing to do with one another. It’s a nice little feel-good film, above all else.
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With a knockout cast like this one — Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, and Jessica Biel, to name a few — it’s hard to imagine just how badly this Crowe film from the mid-2000s derails. What could have gone wrong? Whatever happened, it doesn’t matter. Crowe’s filmography is largely much better than this movie.
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Like Elizabethtown, it’s hard to fully comprehend all the ways in which Crowe’s Aloha is the worst misstep of his career. Emma Stone is cast as a Hawaiian woman, there’s a strange subplot about nuclear bombs, and the entire cast seems lifeless against the endless romantic comedy tropes at play. Cameron Crowe is probably busy reassessing his career now, hopefully preparing himself for a great comeback.
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