Two larger-than-life epics involving swords, love, and valor will duke it out for the 73rd annual Academy Awards. Ridley Scott's Roman romp Gladiator received the most nominations, with 12 including Best Picture, Actor (Russell Crowe as the stalwart hero), Supporting Actor (Joaquin Phoenix as the villainous emperor), and Director (Scott). Close behind is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee's Taiwanese saga of martial arts warriors who can defy gravity. Tiger crouches with 10 nominations including Best Picture and Director (Lee) and Foreign-Language Film.
The last feature to be nominated for both Best Picture and its Foreign-Language equivalent was Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful in 1998. Just this past weekend, Tiger surpassed Life as the largest grossing foreign film in US box-office history. Gladiator has previously won a Golden Globe as Best Dramatic Picture while Tiger took the Globes for Foreign Film and Director.
Nominations were announced on Tuesday morning February 13. The awards will be presented on March 25 in a ceremony telecast by ABC. Steve Martin will host.
Also figuring in the Oscar sweepstakes are Chocolat, Erin Brockovich, and Traffic, with five nominations each.
Among the surprises in this year's list were the omission of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous from the Best Picture ranks and the inclusion of dark horses Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden in the acting categories for the small independent feature Pollock, a bio of the late abstract painter Jackson Pollock directed by Harris.