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American Beauty Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

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. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

  • Release date:September 15, 1999

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Naomi Shohan Best Production Design 1999 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Tania McComas Best Makeup and Hair 1999 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Tariq Anwar Best Editing 1999 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tariq Anwar Best Editing 1999 Nominee
National Board of Review Wes Bentley Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor 1999 Winner
Chicago Film Critics Association Wes Bentley Most Promising Actor 1999 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Wes Bentley Best Supporting Actor 1999 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Alan Ball Best Screenplay 1999 Winner
Writers Guild of America Alan Ball Best Original Screenplay 1999 Winner
Broadcast Film Critics Association Alan Ball Best Original Screenplay 1999 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Alan Ball Best Original Screenplay 1999 Winner
Toronto Film Critics Association Alan Ball Best Screenplay [Runner-up] 1999 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Alan Ball Best Original Screenplay 1999 Nominee
Screen Actors Guild Annette Bening Best Female Actor in a Leading Role 1999 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Annette Bening Best Actress 1999 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Annette Bening Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama 1999 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Annette Bening Best Actress 1999 Nominee
Screen Actors Guild Chris Cooper Best Supporting Actor 1999 Nominee
Screen Actors Guild Kevin Spacey Best Actor 1999 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Kevin Spacey Best Actor 1999 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Kevin Spacey Best Actor 1999 Winner
Chicago Film Critics Association Kevin Spacey Best Actor 1999 Winner
Toronto Film Critics Association Kevin Spacey Best Actor 1999 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Kevin Spacey Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama 1999 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Thora Birch Best Supporting Actress 1999 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Sam Mendes Best Director 1999 Winner
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Sam Mendes Best Director 1999 Winner
Broadcast Film Critics Association Sam Mendes Best Director 1999 Winner
Directors Guild of America Sam Mendes Best Director - Feature Film 1999 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sam Mendes Best Director 1999 Winner
Chicago Film Critics Association Sam Mendes Best Director 1999 Winner
Toronto Film Critics Association Sam Mendes Best Director [Runner-up] 1999 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Sam Mendes Best Director 1999 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Mena Suvari Best Supporting Actress 1999 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Conrad L. Hall Best Cinematography 1999 Winner
American Society of Cinematographers Conrad L. Hall Best Cinematography 1999 Winner
American Society of Cinematographers Conrad L. Hall Outstanding Achievement Award 1999 Winner
National Society of Film Critics Conrad L. Hall Best Cinematography 1999 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Conrad L. Hall Best Cinematography 1999 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Thomas Newman Best Film Music 1999 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Thomas Newman Best Original Score 1999 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Thomas Newman Best Original Score 1999 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Bruce Cohen Best Picture 1999 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Carol O'Connell Best Makeup and Hair 1999 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Christopher Greenbury Best Editing 1999 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dan Jinks Best Picture 1999 Winner

Cast

Kevin Spacey
as Lester Burnham
Annette Bening
as Caroline Burnham
Thora Birch
as Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley
as Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari
as Angela Hayes
Chris Cooper
as Colonel Fitts
Peter Gallagher
as Buddy Kane
Allison Janney
as Barbara Fitts
Scott Bakula
as Jim Olmeyer
Sam Robards
as Jim Berkley
Marissa Jaret Winokur

Crew

Sam Mendes
Director
Dan Jinks
Producer
Bruce Cohen
Producer
Alan Ball
Screenwriter
Conrad L. Hall
Cinematographer
Thomas Newman
Composer (Music Score)
Chris Douridas
Musical Direction/Supervision
Christopher Greenbury
Editor
Tariq Anwar
Editor
Naomi Shohan
Production Designer
David S. Lazan
Art Director
Alan Ball
Co-producer
Stan Wlodkowski
Co-producer
Julie Weiss
Costume Designer
Richard van Dyke
Sound/Sound Designer
Tony Adler
First Assistant Director
Debra Zane
Casting
Hilton Ruiz
Musical Performer
Scott Martin Gershin
Sound Editor
Robert "Bobby Z" Zajonc
Pilot
Bob Beemer
Re-Recording Mixer
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