They were both amazing action dramas, at their times the best of the year, that have had their magic tainted by the kookiness of real life.
I wouldn't call either one of them the best of the year or even close, and if by "the kookiness of real life" you mean "horrendous historical inaccuracies", I agree with that bit as well. I remember liking them when they came out and I'd certainly watch either of them again if they came on TV, but Gladiator
was one of the worst movies that won Best Picture that I know of (not necessarily a knock on the movie; you can have a movie which is perfectly fun to watch and is a great time but which isn't in the same class as a Ben Hur
or a Raging Bull
). IIRC it also came out the same year as American Beauty
and Fight Club
, which makes it even more egregious. Personally, I just pretend that Crowe and company won for The Insider
, just a year late.