04/21/2004 at 12:00 AM EDT
Possibly providing further evidence that the Oscar race is all over the map, two film critics groups have announced their winners of the best on screen in 2000. The Las Vegas Film Critics Society (yes, there is such a group) has named "Erin Brockovich" best picture and cited its director, Steven Soderbergh, as best director. "Gladiator" nabbed five prizes: for editing, musical score, costume design, visual effects and DVD version. Geoffrey Rush ("Quills") and Ellen Burstyn ("Requiem for a Dream") took top acting honors. Meanwhile, further west, "Almost Famous" practically executed a clean sweep from the San Diego Film Critics Society: best picture, original screenplay, direction and actress (Frances McDormand). Of course, it may help that its writer-director, Cameron Crowe, who tells his own story in the picture, grew up in the Southern California town.