American Beauty Poster
American Beauty
Theatrical Poster

Release Date: September 15, 1999 (USA)

Director: Sam Mendes

MPAA Rating: R

Genre: Comedy Drama

Running Time: 120 minutes

Box Office: $356,258,047 Worldwide Gross

Plot Summary:

Directed by Sam Mendes, American Beauty became an immediate sensation when it was released in 1999, garnering numerous awards which included three Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Oscars (including a Best Actor Award for Spacey). This modern masterpiece is an amusing but ultimately tragic critique of those who find that the American Dream is just that, nothing more than a pipe dream.

Kevin Spacey is cast as Lester Burnham, a beleaguered magazine advertising salesman who is going through an intense midlife crisis. His boss seems to be positioning him for the axe. His wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) is obsessed with outward appearances and is cheating on Lester with the local real estate baron. Their teenage daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is constantly depressed, struggles with low self esteem, and regards her father with contempt.

Lester reacts by making some drastic changes in his life. He quits his job, smokes pot, and becomes infatuated with one of his daughter's friends, a beautiful cheerleader. It is his feelings for the girl that inspires Lester's emergence from his shell, while he begins a rebellion against the oppressive forces in his life.


Upon first reading the script for 'American Beauty', Kevin Spacey said, "I nearly fell out of bed. I thought I better meet him [the director] quick before someone else read it."


Main Cast
Kevin Spacey - Lester Burnham
Annette Bening - Carolyn Burnham
Thora Birch - Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley - Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari - Angela Hayes
Chris Cooper - Colonel Fitts
Peter Gallagher - Buddy Kane
Allison Janney - Barbara Fitts
Scott Bakula - Jim Olmeyer
Sam Robards - Jim Berkley
Major Awards Won
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - 2000
Award: Oscar
Category Winner
Best Actor Kevin Spacey
Best Cinematography Conrad L. Hall
Best Director Sam Mendes
Best Original Screenplay Alan Ball
Best Picture Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks
   
British Academy of Film
and Television Arts 2000
Category Winner
Best Actor Kevin Spacey
Best Actress Annette Bening
Best Cinematography Conrad L. Hall
Best Editing Tariq Anwar,
Christopher Greenbury
Best Picture  
Best Film Music Thomas Newman
   
Broadcast Film Critics Association 2000
Critics Choice Award
Category Winner
Best Director Sam Mendes
Best Original Screenplay Alan Ball
Best Picture  
   
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2000
Category Winner
Best Actor Kevin Spacey
Best Director Sam Mendes
Best Picture  
Most Promising Actor Wes Bentley
   
Grammy Awards 2001
Category Winner
Best Score Soundtrack Album Thomas Newman
   
Hollywood Foreign Press Association - 2000
Award: Golden Globe
Category Winner
Best Director Sam Mendes
Best Film (Drama)  
Best Screenplay Alan Ball
   
National Society of Film Critics Awards 2000
Category Winner
Best Cinematography Conrad L. Hall
   
Online Film Critics Society Awards 2000
Category Winner
Best Actor Kevin Spacey
Best Ensemble Cast  
Best Director Sam Mendes
   
Screen Actors Guild Awards 2000
Category Winner
Best Female Actor Annette Bening
Best Male Actor Kevin Spacey
Best Performance by a Cast  
   
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards 1999
Category Winner
Best Actor Annette Bening
Best Director(Runner-up) Sam Mendes
Best Screenplay (Runner-up) Alan Ball
   
Writers Guild of America Awards 2000
Category Winner
Best Original Screenplay Alan Ball
   
QuoteI feel like I've been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I'm just now waking up.Quote -- Lester Burnham