My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 10: American Beauty (Best Picture Ranking)

American Beauty is certainly another love-/hate-movie in this line-up – for everyone who finds it powerful and overwhelming, there will be another one who finds it shallow and pretentious.  Personally, I can understand both sides – it is manipulative and often rather shallow in its attempts to comment on our society. And usually I strongly dislike these kind of movies – so it would have to take a very powerful and absorbing film to actually convince me of its cause. And for me, American Beauty is this movie. It’s very easy to dismiss it entirely – the flying plastic bag, the Lolita-plot, the obsessed wife, the troubled teenagers etc, even by me. But somehow this movie is able to touch me on such a deep emotional level that I can’t help but not only accept all its flaws but actually cherish them and be overwhelmed by them just as much as I am overwhelmed by its flawless parts. Maybe American Beauty is a placebo – it makes you feel as if it answers all the questions in the world right to the meaning of life when it actually doesn’t do anything. But it has this strange power to make you (or at least, me) feel like it puts things into a completely new perspective that seems to make much more sense.

All this probably sounds like American Beauty is a bad movie but I just want to explain that I am well aware that it’s easy to criticize it – but at the same it completely and totally wins me over. I still remember that this was the first time I watched a movie in the cinema and became aware of the power of movies. I saw it three times in the next few days and then all the time on TV. I usually don’t allow movies to control me like this – but American Beauty achieved it.

So, what it is that fascinates me so? I can start with the performances by Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening who are both absolutely glorious. I can go on to the supporting cast that is also first-class. Then I would have to mention the unforgettable score which is among my favorite ever. Then I need to go on to the wonderful cinematography and the direction. And the overwhelming editing. And then, of course, to the screenplay. Even though American Beauty is perfection from every angle, the screenplay is the key that holds it all together. Somehow the story of a depressed, basically lonely man breaking out of his life and starting anew with all the consequences for everyone around him just works for me – mainly because everything about American Beauty is presented so unconventional despite being set in a surrounding that couldn’t be more conventional.

There was a time when this was my favorite movie ever – now I would call it ‘one of my favorite movies ever’. I tried to be as objective as possible in this ranking and I also would never have given American Beauty this position if I didn’t feel entirely sure that it deserved this place from all points-of-view, not just my own – but in the end, nothing is as subjective as judging movies or performances and many will disagree with position. But for me, American Beauty was and still is one of the most intriguing movie-watching experience of my life.


Louis Morgan said...

Well you already criticized it for me thanks Fritz. Anyways though I will admit I thought it was fine in my first viewing. My viewings after that I find all the pretension, attempts to be "deep" start to become far to noticeable.

Anonymous said...

I actually agree, a terrific film and I have no problem with it being in the top 10, it's actually, for me, one of the easiest films to watch and one (if not the one) easiest Best Picture winners to enjoy.