” ‘American Beauty’ [is] the film most Oscar watchers believe this week anyway has the biggest shot at winning Best Picture in March… .
“In one sense, it’s not at all surprising that ‘Beauty’ has attracted so much Oscar attention. A lot of other contenders this year deal with dysfunctional families or at least pieces of them… .
“But ‘Beauty’ which stars Kevin Spacey as a middle-aged dad trapped in the comical coils of spiraling depression, Annette Bening as his yearning, cheating wife, and Thora Birch as their stunned daughter is the only one that dives headlong into the heartbreaking horror of a nuclear family gone ballistic. It’s a subject dear to Hollywood’s heart, since this town is pretty much a giant dysfunctional family all its own… .
” ‘American Beauty’ has one other unexpected advantage in this year’s race: Despite the kudos lavished on the elegant cinematography … the movie’s suburban millieu looks right at home on a TV set. And these days with Academy voters judging more and more films from Oscar screening tapes that can make all the difference in the world.”
Benjamin Svetkey, writing on “I See Gold People,” in the Jan. 14 issue of Entertainment Weekly
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