Best Picture #72: American Beauty

Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is American Beauty (1999).

Along with West Side Story and Platoon, this was one that I hated so much when I saw it years ago that I almost didn’t start this column in the first place, especially as its reputation being sullied in the time since made it an even less appealing rewatch. Maybe it’s because I got to tell Sam Mendes just how much I hated this one or maybe seeing Fury Road just redefined what I thought a bad movie was, but I didn’t hate it quite as much this go around. It was still abysmal though. One of these pseudo-deep movies that claims to have great insights into midlife crises and repressed sexualities but never has more than a witty quip and a shallow vision of what life is. As I type this, I’m realizing maybe the film is better than I give it credit for because that’s how I’ve found everyone in suburbia to be and why I hope to never leave the city again, but the main effect of both is utter revulsion as the smallness of the lives so many are content to live.

The Real Best Picture:

Anything else. (The Sixth Sense for those of you that want a definitive answer)

Best Picture Winners

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