A satire of American middle-class notions of beauty and personal satisfaction, and the consecration of Kevin Spacey as a great American actor, American Beauty is the story of a sexually frustrated suburban father, directed by Sam Mendes and written by Alan Ball. It was the only Globe-winning drama in the entire 90s to not be a period piece. The film received six Globe nominations, winning three awards: Film, Best Director (Mendes) and screenplay (Ball). It also won five Oscars (including Best Film and Spacey as Best Actor).
The 57th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and television for 1999, took place on Sunday, January 23, 2000, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The other nominees (Drama) were The Hurricane, The Insider, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and The End of the Affair. Co-star Annette Bening was nominated as Best Actress – Drama, but Hilary Swank won for Boys Don't Cry. Kevin Spacey was also nominated at the Globes, but Denzel Washington won for The Hurricane: Spacey took his revenge at the Academy Awards, winning his second after The Usual Suspects (1995). After eight Golden Globe Nominations (and no win), Spacey would eventually win again in 2015 for House of Cards (Best Actor in a TV Series – Drama).
According to his Golden Globe speech, screenwriter Alan Ball was sitting at the World Trade Center Plaza in New York when he saw a paper bag floating in the wind and was inspired by it to write the film, which was originally conceived as a stage play. Little he knew, that the WTC Plaza wouldn't exist anymore after September 2001, something he thought about deeply while creating his acclaimed TV series Six Feet Under.
Described by many as about "the meaning of life" or "the hollow existence of the American suburbs", American Beauty (the title refers to a specific variety of roses) has defied categorization even by the authors. Mendes said: “It's a mystery story, a kaleidoscopic journey through American suburbia... a rite of passage about imprisonment and escape from it.” American Beauty was widely considered the best film of 1999 by many critics worldwide. The New York Time's Janet Maslin wrote that “Mendes' minimalist style, brightly balanced, evoked the delicate, eroticized power-playing vignettes of his theater work.” It would go on to garner a cult following.