Essential Philip Seymour Hoffman performances
Lester Bangs in 'Almost Famous'
As pioneering rock critic Lester Bangs, Hoffman's only in a handful of scenes of Cameron Crowe's autobiographical opus, but he owns the picture when he's onscreen, and makes you think about him when he's not, particularly as William Miller ignores Bangs' advice about not making friends with the rock stars. Hoffman's performance beautifully reconciles the ways in which Bangs is both a cynic and a true believer, and there's a staggering amount of warmth coming from him as Bangs fields a late night phone call from William and patiently explains, "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Crowe's personal website is called The Uncool, and while it's no doubt a tribute to the mentorship of the real Bangs, it also evokes one of the very best performances ever elicited by a superb actor's director.
- Alan Sepinwall