American Beauty is not the greatest movie ever made. I know it has flaws and issues. But I'll never forget it. The first time I watched it – three or four years ago – was such an unexpected experience. I thought it'd be a good movie. Hell, it had won Best Picture and numerous other awards so I knew I was in for something good. But I can honestly say American Beauty changed my life. I'm not just saying that to be different or dramatic; my outlook on life has changed because of this film. And that's one of the reasons why I say this is my favorite movie of all time. It's the first thing that pops up into my head when asked that deadly question of what is your favorite movie? Now, I am not exactly certain that it is, but it close.

American Beauty practically offers everything I want in a movie. It's funny, sad, entertaining, beautiful and poetic. It succeeds admirably on both a fundamental and technical level. The story is original, with not too much complexity, and thrives on fantastically written characters in a tangible world of suburbia. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is a depressed, middle-aged dad who finds himself infatuated with his daughter's friend; this pumps him to change his entire way of life. The screenplay is arguably perfect, complete with unforgettable scenes and quotable dialogue. The narrative is completely focused and does not lack from being overlong nor boring at any point. It's tight and wastes no time in the story it's telling. The acting is flawless across the board, with powerful performances from literally everyone involved. The cinematography is beautiful. The score is love put into chords. The editing is unbelievable; not one single cut is questionable or unnecessary. And above all, through its deep messages and symbols and whatnot, it's a completely enjoyable, fun movie that I have a blast watching every single time.

The only flaw of the film, in my opinion, is that it sometimes over floods with its message. I feel like its being shoved down my throat during some viewings. I enjoy a film that subtly does that instead, which this does not do. It's not a huge problem, but it is present and has taken me out of the film a few times. However, its message is so strong and compelling that I allow its decision to do this. It makes sense that the movie's themes of destiny, beauty conceptions and discovery are obvious as the characters of the film are learning along with us. So perhaps this is not a flaw but just a storytelling technique that I'm not all that comfortable with yet. It's growing on me, though. It has just taken me longer to understand its full purpose.

American Beauty also includes a killer soundtrack. The Who, Bob Dylan, Annie Lennox and finishing off with The Beatles. “Because” just ends it perfectly. Sam Mendes knows good music, as shown in some of his other films, such as Away We Go. He knows when to include the score (also credit to Thomas Newman) and when to switch to a song like “American Woman”. It flows so well and adds to the film's impeccable pacing.

The movie introduced me to many of the actors, even Kevin Spacey. I hadn't really seen him in much, but this really invited me into his filmography. He is now my favorite actor, having delivered Lester Burnham, one of my all-time favorite characters in a film. And that is also a thanks to Alan Ball, who wrote this masterpiece. He originally wrote it as a play, and it can totally be seen as one. I can easily identify the different acts. Each part of the film has the atmosphere of a play – especially the famous dinner table sequence as well as the couch scene. It heightens the film to another level, as it appears to be a show for us at numerous points throughout the movie. Kevin Spacey looks directly at the screen in a few shots without bringing attention to it – you really have to 'look closer'. That's the promotional tagline, by the way. And it really does fit in with the film, as both a motif and a fun easter egg for repeat viewings.

Kevin Spacey gained his second Academy Award, which was completely deserved, but there are other performances that are just as fantastic. Annette Bening plays the wife/mom beautifully, showing true depth as one part of Carolyn Burnham is obsessed with the image of success while deep down she is anything but. It's heartbreaking and depressing, as this film does not shy away from. Take Thora Birch's character. “Janie's a pretty typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her that's all going to pass, but I don't want to lie to her,” Lester narrates in the beginning of the film. Thora plays this character so well, completely reinventing her image that is given at the start of the movie by the end. But it's Chris Cooper and Wes Bentley that are so so great and moving as a father and a son. Wes Bentley's character of Ricky Fitts (I love that name) is very complex and one that some will love while others will hate. He offers the deep, poetic side of the film, especially in the popular, controversial plastic-bag scene. I love Ricky Fitts and find his view of the world stunning and eye-opening. It's breathtaking. Chris Cooper as Ricky's father, on the other hand, does not appear to be likable. His character is devastating and sorrowful, which is all accomplished by Cooper's performance, one that is severely overlooked. I am blown away everytime, and I have to give huge props to Cooper; he matched Spacey. Especially the garage scene holy hell. Allison Janney and Mena Suvari also give great performances. This film is the dictionary-definition of A+ acting and should be an inspiration to any actor or actress.

American Beauty continues to be in my top favorites despite all the great movies I see yearly. It impresses me every time and shows me something I didn't see in the previous watch. It's a complete package, and I hope it has affected people as much as it has me. Without American Beauty, I would be a different person. It changed how I see people, how I tackle every day and how I motivate myself. I know it does not leave a huge impact on everyone like it did on me. I just watched it at the right time, when I wasn't sure about everything and when my life wasn't exactly where I wanted it to be. I got lucky. I have a lot of praise for Sam Mendes, Alan Ball, Kevin Spacey and everyone involved in making American Beauty. Thank you for giving me a film I needed and still need from time to time.

It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself.