A middle-aged family man has a moment of clarity and starts to live life on his own terms, while also lusting after his teenage daughter's best friend.
American Beauty (1999)
Directed by Sam Mendes
Written by Alan Ball
Starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher, Allison Janney
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Actor (Kevin Spacey), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography
Oscar Nominations - Best Actress (Annette Bening),
Best Film Editing, Best Original Score (Thomas Newman)
American Beauty has joined the ranks of films that nobody is talking about anymore, along with Se7en, The Usual Suspects, House of Cards, and anything else that features Kevin Spacey in a prominent role. After pretty convincing sexual assault accusations occurred, the actor fled into obscurity and all of his films have this sort of unfair stigma hanging on them at all times. When I thoroughly explored the work of Roman Polanski and John Wayne, I became a strong advocate of supporting the art, not the men who made it. Chinatown, The Quiet Man, and American Beauty are all still great films. It's okay to enjoy them. If anything, we should reclaim films with this stigma, as they belong to film fans across the planet, not the monsters who ruined lives and stood for hatred. With that said, here's my two cents.
Lester Burnham (Spacey) is a depressed middle-aged husband and father whose wife controls him and whose daughter hates him. He's got a menial nine-to-five office job and the highlight of his day is masturbating in the shower. When he becomes infatuated with his daughter's best friend (Suvari), Lester has a moment of clarity that completely changes his life. He takes charge of it, and only does what he wants to do. This angers his obsessive wife Carolyn (Bening), who spirals out of control. Meanwhile, his daughter (Birch) starts dating the neighbor kid (Bentley), whose psychotic, Marine Corps. father (Cooper) starts to think something is off with Lester. It's all a series of misunderstandings that goes off in the worst way. Every scene of this movie is pure gold, and all the performances are fantastic.
American Beauty is one of the films that firmly deserves the Best Picture Oscar. Spacey, regardless of his crimes, is an incredible actor, and this will be one of the films he's remembered for (if people will ever remember his films over his misdeeds). I think this film is hilarious, honest, and at times, way too real. Everyone should see it at least once, but it's definitely a film you'll want to revisit.