Best Picture #73: Gladiator

Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is Gladiator (2000).

One of those movies I loved early on and got me into watching more films, I don’t think Gladiator will ever be as awesome as it was when I was about fifteen but it still holds up very well today. Updating Ben Hur for a new generation, it’s got the epic story, sweeping fights, and compelling tale of revenge, but wisely drops the Jesus bit and makes the main storyline more engaging. Where so many movies of its type would get so caught up in the action that the rest suffers, here the action is always tied up in the story to be excitingly choreographed and legitimately gripping while the Roman Empire is an impressive location with worldbuilding on par with anything Ridley Scott did in his sci-fi features. For a couple hours, I got to be fully transported and bask in the glory of living the life of a gladiator seeking revenge and be fifteen all over again in a wonderful break from the streak of classic examples of Oscar bait.

The Real Best Picture:

I, for one, was entertained by Gladiator.

Best Picture Winners

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