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Monday, 22 January, 2001, 14:43 GMT
Globes honour Gladiator
Ridley Scott
Battle won: Ridley Scott flanked by his producers
Gladiator has won best film award at the Golden Globes, beating off two films by fancied director Stephen Soderbergh.

UK director Ridley Scott's film about a Roman general who falls from favour and seeks revenge as a slave and gladiator won out over Erin Brockovich and Traffic.

George Clooney
George Clooney played a convict in the film O Brother Where Art Thou?

But Julia Roberts won the best actress award for Erin Brockovich, while Tom Hanks took best actor for Cast Away.

Dame Judi Dench won the award for best actress in a film made for television. The British actress, whose husband died earlier this month, won the honour for her performance in the BBC film Last of the Blonde Bombshells.

In the film awards, George Clooney won the best comedy actor for his role in the Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

And Renee Zellweger won best comedy actress for her role in Nurse Betty, where she fakes medical expertise to pursue a doctor in a TV soap opera.

Main winners
Best film: Gladiator
Best comedy: Almost Famous
Best actor: Tom Hanks
Best actress: Julia Roberts
Best comedy actor: George Clooney
Best comedy actress: Renee Zellweger
Best director: Ang Lee
Ang Lee won the best director award for his critically acclaimed Chinese-language film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which also won the award for best foreign language film.

"I cannot tell you how surprised I am," said Lee.

Again, Stephen Soderbergh lost out, although Traffic did win best screenplay.

Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's fictionalised story about his experiences as a teenage rock journalist in the 1970s, won best comedy film.

And Robert Downey Jr, who is soon to appear in court facing drugs charges, won best TV supporting actor for his role as Calista Flockhart's boyfriend in Ally McBeal.

"It's nice not to be under the table tonight," he said as he collected his award on stage.

Gladiator, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Almost Famous are now both well set for the Oscars ceremony at the end of March.

In 41 out of 57 years, the winner of the Globes has gone on to take the Oscar for the year's best picture.

Almost too late

Nominations for this year's Oscars will be announced on 13 February, just enough time for the Golden Globe results to take effect on members of the Academy.

Zellweger almost missed her award because she was in the toilet when the name was announced.

Renee Zellweger
Renee Zellweger dashed from the restroom to receive her award

Presenter Hugh Grant had to fill in until Zellweger hurried from the back of the room, first in tears, then whooping with joy.

"A moment I'll never forget - a moment I almost didn't have," she said.

In jovial mood, George Clooney made light of the opposition he faced when winning his best actor award for O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Clooney, who played who played Ulysses Everett McGill, a garrulous convict leading a trio of jailbirds through the Depression-era South, denied Jim Carrey his third consecutive best actor award.

"I think when you list the names of the actors in this category that you've got to figure I'm going to win this," he jested.

Listing his competitors - who included John Cusack, Robert De Niro and Mel Gibson as well as Jim Carrey - he cracked: "What have they done?"

TV honours

With 13 movie and 11 television awards presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Golden Globes are the third most watched awards show in the US, with only the Oscars and the Grammys getting higher ratings.

Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker brought home the trophy for the second year running
In television, Martin Sheen won best actor in a TV drama for playing charismatic President Jeb Bartlett on NBC's The West Wing.

"I am quite certain that there has been a mistake," he said, after he was presented with his trophy.

"But I'm going to keep this until the recount is final."

Frasier star Kelsey Grammer won best actor in a comedy series.

Sarah Jessica Parker, star of Sex and the City, won for a second consecutive year as best actress in a comedy series.

Al Pacino received the Cecil B DeMille Award, which honours outstanding contributions to entertainment.

The BBC's David Sillito
"No movie dominated the awards"
Jason Solomons, Mail on Sunday film critic
"Hollywood loves to congratulate itself on its own values"
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