In discussing this year's Oscar races in the picture, director, and the acting categories, we may as well begin with the nominee area audiences had the least chance of catching, as it was the only major contender yet to get an area release: Duncan Tucker's Transamerica.

Almost FamousALMOST FAMOUS

Almost Famous, writer-director Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical hymn to the joys and heartbreaks of rock 'n' roll, is filled with extraordinarily lovely details and an uncanny fondness for the film's 1970s setting. It's engaging, gorgeously lit, and filled with goodwill. The things it's not are believable, challenging, or memorable. It has obviously been made with great love - Crowe spent years trying to turn his youthful experiences into a movie - and Crowe's attention to the minutiae of the rock scene is heady and alluring. But Almost Famous ends up as far less than the sum of its parts - a movie so intoxicated by its period that elements like character and conflict barely exist. Despite its look and the rave reviews being showered on it, the film itself feels empty.

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