Best Movies by Farr
American Beauty Poster
Released Runtime Category
1999 121 Drama, The Essentials
Director Language
Sam Mendes English
Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper, Wes Bentley

American Beauty

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What's it About

Leading an empty suburban life with his uptight, real-estate-agent wife, Carolyn (Bening), and depressed teenage daughter, Jane (Birch), sardonic forty-something Lester Burnham (Spacey) decides to overhaul his body — and his life — when he falls madly in lust with gorgeous, nubile Angela (Suvari), Jane's flirtatious best friend. Talk about your mid-life crisis: Lester's deciding to live on the edge, but where will this take him?

Why we love it

This superlative drama by director Sam Mendes peers at the dark side of American middle-class life with ripe, risqué humor and aching poignancy. Both screenwriter Alan Ball and cinematographer Conrad L. Hall were honored along with Mendes at the 1999 Academy Awards for their evocation of suburban alienation, but Spacey also deserved all the acclaim he received for bringing Lester to life (including a Best Actor Oscar). Working in a subplot involving Lester's new neighbors, an unhinged Marine (Cooper) and his artsy, drug-dealing son (Bentley), Mendes gives this "Beauty" a gut-wrenching finale that completes Lester's transformation.

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American Dream

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"