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Gladiator wins BAFTA's Best Film

Billy Elliot
Bell danced rings around the BAFTA competition  

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The U.S. blockbuster Gladiator and the martial arts fantasy film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fought off the competition at the British film awards.

The BAFTAs, brought forward ahead of the Oscars for the first time this year in an attempt to steal a march on its rival, attracted big names on Sunday.

The Roman epic Gladiator won five awards, including Best Film category, while Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won four.

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But the star of Gladiator, Russell Crowe, had to watch as Billy Elliot's teenager Jamie Bell capped an astonishing few months by dancing off with the Best Actor title.

The 14-year-old, who plays an aspiring ballet dancer overcoming social expectations, not only tip-toed around Crowe, but also Cast Away star Tom Hanks.

Billy Elliot won three awards altogether, including Julie Walters for Best Supporting Actress and the Outstanding British Film of the Year.

Julia Roberts' title role in Erin Brockovich, as a brassy single mum who uncovers an environmental scandal, won her the Best Actress title.

Gladiator's haul, aside from its best film win, was mainly for technical wizardry with prizes for editing, cinematography and production design.

However it also landed the Orange-sponsored audience award, voted by cinemagoers.

Albert Finney missed out on the Best Supporting Actor trophy for his role in Erin Brockovich to Benicio Del Toro's performance in Traffic.

But he had consolation by picking up the Academy Fellowship, essentially a lifetime achievement award.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's string of awards included best director.

Picking up the Best Foreign Film award for Crouching Tiger, Taiwanese director Ang Lee said: "This is smashing.

"This is a fantasy we came up with - thank you for sharing that vision."

Julia Roberts was unable to attend the event for her award but her Notting Hill co-star Hugh Grant picked it up on her behalf.

The actor said she was thrilled by the prize, thanked BATA and added: "She loves Britain blah, blah."

BAFTAs steal a march on Oscars
February 23, 2001
'Billy Elliot' actor wins award
February 5, 2001

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

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