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Gladiator

Year: 2000
Studio: Dreamworks SKG
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: John Logan
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Oliver Reed, Connie Neilsen, Richard Harris, Djimon Honsou
Around the time of Forrest Gump I first noticed the Academy Awards becoming more mainstream. It was if the board had sat down and said 'we're becoming irrelevant. We always choose arthouse movies or biopics. We have to pick stuff that makes huge box office so people don't think we've lost touch with the filmgoer on the street.'

It culminated in the titanic Academy plaudits rained down on Titanic, and seemed to signify their intentions; we're here, we like the same movies you do!

There was something about Ridley Scott's return to the cinema of the golden age epic I just didn't get. Yes it was well done, yes it was enjoyable, but Best Picture material? I think they just ran out of stuff to vote for.

It was the story of a Roman General (Crowe, in the role that marked his arrival on the world stage) cast out of the inner circle of military/political affairs who becomes a gladiator and works his way up to avenging the murder of his wife and son by the jealous and paranoid new emperor (Phoenix).

A good story - yes, great effects and staging - yes, good action and passable scripting - yes. But Best Picture? Maybe Russ threatened to throw phones at everyone who didn't vote for it.

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