"American Beauty" seems one step closer to the best picture Oscar. The day after it was named best dramatic picture at the Golden Globes, the quasi-surreal look at a dysfunctional suburban family (starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening) was selected as the top movie of 1999 by the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Further good news for the movie -- and its studio DreamWorks, which is re-releasing "Beauty" to theaters on Feb. 18 -- is that its director Sam Mendes was one of the five nominees for the Directors Guild of America award announced Monday. The other DGA contenders are Frank Darabont ("The Green Mile"), Spike Jonze ("Being John Malkovich") Michael Mann ("The Insider"), and M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense"). Left wanting was Anthony Minghella, who directed "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (he won for "The English Patient"). The DGA award will be presented on March 11 -- 15 days before the Oscars. Since the Guild first instituted the award in 1949, all but four winners have gone on to win the best director Oscar.
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