Gladiator Gets Thumbs Up From Broadcasters

May we have the Oscar mandate, please? With the Academy Awards nominations only three weeks away, a consensus from critics and the media has seemed as elusive as an A-list celeb at this weekend's presidential inauguration.

In the past 48 hours, the epic Gladiator has picked up considerable Oscar momentum. The film, which stars Russell Crowe as a wronged Roman general bent on revenge, racked up two big wins in two days: First, it received the Golden Globe for best dramatic film last night, and then today, the Broadcast Film Critics Association named it as the best film of 2000.

Many have compared Gladiator to one of Hollywood's great sword-and-sandal epics, Ben-Hur, which, in 1959, received a then-record 11 Oscars, including Best Actor (Charlton Heston) and Best Picture. If the comparison holds, Gladiator is on its way to Oscar gold.

The Ridley Scott-directed film bested also-rans Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Billy Elliot, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to win the BFCA honor.

Last month, the BFCA named Crowe as best actor for his performance in Gladiator and Julia Roberts as best actress for Erin Brockovich. Roberts also picked up a Golden Globe on Sunday and is a strong Oscar favorite.

The Broadcast Film Critics Association is the largest U.S. critics' group, with 145 members.

Reuters contributed to this story.