Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 100
    Spacey, an actor who embodies intelligence in his eyes and voice, is the right choice for Lester Burnham.
  2. A dark comical masterpiece that single-handedly announces the collapse of the American family infrastructure as it exists on the brink of Y2K.
  3. 100
    It gracefully defies the usual categories, gets under your skin in ways you cannot anticipate, then works its way straight toward the heart. It's far and away the bravest and best movie of the year.
  4. A tart, funny and tremendously sobering movie about the deepest recesses of personal unhappiness.
  5. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    100
    Spacey is diamond-brilliant in a role that plays as if custom-made for him.
  6. A wonder of a film -- a luminous, beautifully executed drama that gathers the best cast of the year -- the best American film of the year.
  7. A dynamite comedy-drama that, unless it stiffs big-time at the box office, should be up for multi-Oscar nominations come February.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    100
    A singular accomplishment so specifically keyed to Spacey's talents that it mandates going out on a limb to say it contains the performance that will ultimately be regarded as "the one."
  9. Reviewed by: Rod Dreher
    100
    A flat-out masterpiece, surely the best movie of the year; indeed, an all-time classic.
  10. 100
    A triumph of acting, writing and directing that defies glib description...the kind of artful defiance that Hollywood is usually too timid to deliver: a jolting comedy that makes you laugh till it hurts.
  11. 100
    A movie that will endure.
  12. 90
    Hilarious, slightly sick, and super-edgy ...the acting of its two principals, Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey, is so sublime that it's worth seeing on that grounds alone.
  13. Hilarious, painful and brutally frank.
  14. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    A script as fresh and distinctive as any produced in the States in recent memory.
  15. Reviewed by: Janet Maslin
    90
    If you don't share the film's piercing vision of what really matters, someday you will.
  16. A brilliant satirical diagnosis of what's most screwed up about life in this country, especially when it comes to sexual frustration and kiddie porn.
  17. A blood-chilling dark comedy with unexpected moments of both fury and warmth, a strange, brooding and very accomplished film that sets us back on our heels from its opening frames.
  18. 89
    A brilliant, exhilarating piece of filmmaking. It may even be the best mainstream film of the year thus far.
  19. 88
    Remarkably astute and devastatingly funny.
  20. (Mendes') film debut shows he can shock not only with noise and nakedness but with subtle observations.
  21. I've got to admit it's a stunner.
  22. 83
    Though excellent in many ways, American Beauty is, finally, an uneasy mix of assured technique and simplistic satire.
  23. You know you're in the hands of a true filmmaker when you feel invited, at every turn, to share his sense of entrancement. I got that feeling in just about every frame of American Beauty.
  24. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    Kevin Spacey (gives) a truly great performance.
  25. 80
    Surprises you with a kind of hardheaded romanticism.
  26. 80
    Black comedy of the deepest, richest darkness laid over an aching meditation on the atrophy of dreams.
  27. A ruthless dissection of suburban malaise.
  28. Mendes nonetheless works this screenplay like a jazz virtuoso plays with a familiar theme such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
  29. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    70
    If it is never really as profound as it seems to think it is, American Beauty is consistently entertaining, and it earns points simply for acknowledging that all may not be perfect in the current boom years.
  30. A satire whose dead aim stops wounding - and starts making - stereotypes of white middle-classness.
  31. 60
    It remains a puzzling dream, vivid in detail and overly obvious in symbolism, fueled by half-digested lumps of malice and wonder.
  32. 40
    Bland and nasty, American Beauty has the slightly stale feel of a family sitcom conceived under the spell of "Married . . . With Children."
  33. Reviewed by: Ann-Rebecca Laschever
    40
    In the end, the film lacks the skill of its actors and ends up feeling disjointed and confused about its own message.
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 552 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 120
  1. SusanN.
    Jul 27, 2008
    10
    A film I could watch over and over and never get tired of. A film to see before you die.
  2. Feb 13, 2012
    9
    "American Beauty" is a masterful film. Kevin Spacey is at it's best and the film is filled with allegories and symbolism. A must watch.
  3. Mar 5, 2011
    10
    This is the best film ever made.It's really incredible.

    There isn't other film that can complete with ''american beauty''. Ã