Tonight's the night in Los Angeles - but here are some previous best film winners you might or might not want to revisit American Beauty Year: 1999 Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley Director: Sam Mendes The film: The pairing of Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey and Royal Shakespeare Company alumni Sam Mendes was a match made in heaven, as reflected by the six Oscars this little gem took home. Mendes' theatrical background adds weight to every minutely constructed scene as we enter the world of a family dealing with a potentially fatal dose of suburbanitis. Spacey plays the put-upon Lester Burnham, trapped in a loveless marriage to the success-obsessed Caroline (Annette Bening) and father of the gloomy Jane (Thora Birch). Instead of becoming resigned to his fate, however, Lester fights back in search of redemption - in the face of mounting pressure from all those around him. He finds a like-minded individual in new neighbour Wes Bentley; they are both confined by their own versions of hell (although Lester's is most certainly a kinder version). A superbly crafted expose on life and how people can lose - and then find - their identity. The extras: On first glance, there's not really much on offer apart from a behind-the-scenes featurette - and that is fairly run-of-the-mill stuff. What lifts the bonus material above the ordinary, however, is the audio commentary provided by Mendes and scriptwriter Alan Ball. Mendes delights in taking us through his scene set-ups, some of which pay homage to films such as Ordinary People (1980) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). And they let you in on a few secrets as well - one proposed version of the film, for instance, had the young lovers charged by police at the end of the film. The verdict: A remarkable first-time effort by Mendes and what's even more surprising is that - for a tale that has one basic twist - it holds up well to repeated viewings.