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American Beauty Movie Poster
Plot, Details & Awards

American Beauty

(1999)

Rated R for strong sexuality, language, violence and drug content.

R In Theaters 10/1/1999 , 120min.
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Plot & Details

Noted theater director Sam Mendes, who was responsible for the acclaimed 1998 revival of Cabaret and Nicole Kidman's turn in The Blue Room, made his motion picture debut with this film about the dark side of an American family, and about the nature and price of beauty in a culture obsessed with outward appearances. Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, a man in his mid-40s going through an intense midlife crisis; he's grown cynical and is convinced that he has no reason to go on. Lester's relationship with his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) is not a warm one; while on the surface Carolyn strives to present the image that she's in full control of her life, inside she feels empty and desperate. Their teenage daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is constantly depressed, lacking in self-esteem, and convinced that she's unattractive. Her problems aren't helped by her best friend Angela (Mena Suvari), an aspiring model who is quite beautiful and believes that that alone makes her a worthwhile person. Jane isn't the only one who has noticed that Angela is attractive: Lester has fallen into uncontrollable lust for her, and she becomes part of his drastic plan to change his body and change his life. Meanwhile, next door, Colonel Fitts (Chris Cooper) has spent a lifetime in the Marine Corps and can understand and tolerate no other way of life, which makes life difficult for his son Ricky (Wes Bentley), an aspiring filmmaker and part-time drug dealer who is obsessed with beauty, wherever and whatever it may be. American Beauty was also the screen debut for screenwriter Alan Ball.

Awards

Academy Awards

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Dan Jinks Won
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Director Sam Mendes Won
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Cinematography Conrad L. Hall Won
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Original Screenplay Alan Ball Won
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Editing Tariq Anwar Nominated
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Original Score Thomas Newman Nominated
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Actor Kevin Spacey Won
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Bruce Cohen Won
1999 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Actress Annette Bening Nominated

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Production Design Naomi Shohan Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Actress Annette Bening Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Director Sam Mendes Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Picture Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Makeup and Hair Tania McComas Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Editing Christopher Greenbury Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Film Music Thomas Newman Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Supporting Actor Wes Bentley Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Original Screenplay Alan Ball Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Supporting Actress Mena Suvari Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Supporting Actress Thora Birch Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Makeup and Hair Carol O'Connell Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Cinematography Conrad L. Hall Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Editing Tariq Anwar Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Actor Kevin Spacey Won

Golden Globes

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1999 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Original Score Thomas Newman Nominated
1999 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Picture - Drama Won
1999 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Kevin Spacey Nominated
1999 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Annette Bening Nominated
1999 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Director Sam Mendes Won
1999 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Screenplay Alan Ball Won

American Society of Cinematographers

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1999 American Society of Cinematographers Best Cinematography Conrad L. Hall Won
1999 American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Award Conrad L. Hall Won

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Production Design Naomi Shohan Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Actress Annette Bening Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Director Sam Mendes Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Picture Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Makeup and Hair Tania McComas Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Editing Christopher Greenbury Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Film Music Thomas Newman Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Supporting Actor Wes Bentley Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Original Screenplay Alan Ball Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Supporting Actress Mena Suvari Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Supporting Actress Thora Birch Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Makeup and Hair Carol O'Connell Nominated
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Cinematography Conrad L. Hall Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Editing Tariq Anwar Won
1999 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Actor Kevin Spacey Won

Broadcast Film Critics Association

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1999 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Original Screenplay Alan Ball Won
1999 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Director Sam Mendes Won
1999 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Picture Won

Chicago Film Critics Association

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Picture Won
1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Director Sam Mendes Won
1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Actor Kevin Spacey Won
1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Actor Wes Bentley Won

Directors Guild of America

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1999 Directors Guild of America Best Director - Feature Film Sam Mendes Won

French Academy of Cinema

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
2000 French Academy of Cinema Best Foreign Film Nominated

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