What is it? The biggest box-office sensation ever, the story of the sinking of the supposedly unsinkable luxury liner in 1912 provides the backdrop to a story of young hearts running free, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play star cross'd lovers.
Why did it win? Did you not hear the bit where we said it was the biggest film of all time at the US and worldwide box office? Success of that scale has to be rewarded - at least as long as it comes with some suggestion of artistic merit and seriousness of subject (see also: Gone with the Wind; The Return of the King. See for contrast: Star Wars, ET).
Did it deserve to win? The presence of As Good As It Gets and The Full Monty on the shortlist of nominees perhaps proves that this was not a vintage year (in more crowded awards seasons they'd be relegated to the Screenplay categories) and Boogie Nights didn't even get the nomination. But vintage or no, LA Confidential is probably the best of the nominees, judged strictly on aesthetics. But then, this was Titanic.
Worth a look? Yes, if you have a really big TV and a strong stomach for anachronisms. But check out LA Confidential first.