Clash of the Titans

Illustration for TIME by James Bennett

With 12 nominations and a Golden Globe, the crowd pleaser Gladiator hopes to fend off critics' favorite Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to capture the Best Picture Oscar

It's up there with soccer and tennis as an international sport; it rivals horse racing and casino slots as a lure for bettors. The Oscar derby may highlight some movies shown only in America and, in a few categories, pictures only the makers' mothers care about. But ignorance and obscurity simply add to the suspense. That's one reason (the other is what's left of movie glamour) why, on March 25, a billion people will watch all or part of the 73rd presentation of awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—Oscar Night—to see which of the nominees announced last...

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