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Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 10:29 GMT
Soderbergh's awards boost
Catherine Zeta Jones
Catherine Zeta Jones under pressure in Traffic
Director Steven Soderbergh's Oscar hopes have received another boost after his movies Erin Brockovich and Traffic were named two of the 10 best films of 2000 by the prestigious American Film Institute.

Both films have already picked up a number of accolades as part of the annual Hollywood awards season, including nominations for the coveted Golden Globes awarded later this month.

Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich
Julia Roberts is tipped for an Oscar for Erin Brockovich

A number of other Oscar hopefuls completed the AFI's top 10, including Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical 70s rock film Almost Famous, and Roman epic Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe.

This the first time the AFI, which seeks to "advance and preserve the art of the moving image", has chosen to join the annual rush towards the Academy Awards in March by giving out its own prizes.

It differs from other awards ceremonies in that the AFI decided to honour the films as a whole in recognition of all of the crew involved in each production.

AFI director Jean Picker Firstenberg said: "We launched this programme as a way to preserve an annual record of American film and acknowledge excellence.

AFI's top 10 films
Erin Brockovich
Almost Famous
You Can Count On Me
High Fidelity
Requiem For a Dream
Best In Show
Before Night Falls
Wonder Boys

"By providing a written rationale for each film selected, as well as a description of each moment of significance, AFI has created a multilayered almanac that documents the year in the moving image."

The AFI said pollution drama Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts, and drug-war thriller Traffic, with Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones stood out for the way they inspired audiences.

Another Michael Douglas movie, comedy of manners Wonder Boys, also made it into the AFI's top 10.

The film has already won critics' awards for supporting actress Frances McDormand and Douglas himself received a best actor nomination at the Golden Globes.

For its other choices, the AFI followed the Golden Globes - and most other awards nominations and ceremonies so far - in largely steering away from big-budget blockbusters.

Russell Crowe in Gladiator - one of 2000's most notable blockbuster
Russell Crowe in Gladiator - one of 2000's most notable blockbusters

Harrowing drug-addiciton movie Requiem For a Dream, starring Ellen Burstyn, was among finalists.

Burstyn herself has come in for particular praise for her portrayal of a lonely woman who becomes addicted to slimming pills as a result of her desperation to look her best for an appearance on a TV game show.

Brother-sister drama You Can Count On Me, starring Laura Linney, was another Golden Globe nominee in the AFI's top 10.

More surprising choices however came in the form of male angst movie High Fidelity - based around the book by British author Nick Hornby - and dog show comedy Best In Show.

Crouching Tiger
Crouching Tiger picked as a "moment of significance"
The AFI also went on to choose its top five Moments of Significance, representing new trends and events with noteworthy impact on the film world in 2000.

Among them it cited the merger of America Online and Time Warner as marking the moment "when it became possible for the digital revolution to reach the masses".

It also said martial arts romance Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon from Taiwanese-born Ang Lee "marked a watershed moment in the ongoing emergence of global cinema".

See also:

04 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Zeta Jones and Douglas' press battle
21 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Crouching Tiger leads Oscars assault
07 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Quills named film of the year
27 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Erin Brockovich 'blackmail attempt'
06 Jan 01 | Entertainment
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