Oscar Profile: The Social Network

by Tom Ingram

Since the 2010 Academy Awards nominees have been announced, and the ceremony is upcoming, let’s take a look at some of the nominated movies. I won’t have time to go into all of them, and anyway not all of them interest me. Currently, from what I’ve been reading, the two favourites for Best Picture are The King’s Speech and The Social Network. I’ll get into The King’s Speech soon, but for now, let’s take a look at Facebook: The Movie.

I have to admit, when I first heard about this move, I laughed. It seems like in the past few years movie executives have been going crazy with greenlighting movies based on things that should not have movies, like Monopoly or Battleship. When The Social Network was announced, what everyone heard was “it’s a movie adaptation of Facebook”, which quite rightly caused some consternation.

Thankfully, within a few weeks the confusion was corrected and we could all reassure ourselves that the world was not going to end, at least not until Battleship: The Movie came out. The Social Network is about the founding of Facebook, depicting the beginnings of Mark Zuckerberg’s quest to slowly erode human dignity and privacy.

Zuckerberg is not actually the main character of the movie. For the most part, it focuses on Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s partner and the man who bankrolled Facebook at the outset. As Facebook becomes more popular, Saverin the conventional stick-in-the-mud money guy is pushed away from the company until Zuckerberg finally screws him over royally.

Nominations

The movie is up for eight awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Eisenberg), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. I really haven’t been doing this long enough to make accurate predictions other than the most obvious ones. I will, however, offer my opinions on who should win, regardless of who will.

Zuckerberg is played by a subdued, fast-talking Jesse Eisenberg. He admirably portrays his character as a small-minded, cruel, brilliant little asshole. It’s a good job, by all means, but he would not be my choice for Best Actor. The really big draw on the acting front is Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker. Timberlake brings infectious energy to the role, and I hate to admit it but I think he’s really making his name as a legitimate, serious actor.

The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is similarly not my first choice. The only things that set the movie’s soundtrack apart were (a) songs that Reznor and Ross didn’t write, such as “Baby You’re a Rich Man” or “California Uber Alles”, and (b) the most gratuitous heavy metal rendition of the music of Grieg since Goatwhore’s Morning Mood album.

Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay has some pretty good moments in it. What stuck out especially in my mind was the quip from one of the Winklevoss twins, proposing that they beat up Zuckerberg: “I’m six-five, 220 pounds, and there are two of me.” The only criticism I have here is that the last line of the movie, where one of Zuckerberg’s lawyers tells him that “You’re not an asshole, Mark. You’re just trying so hard to be.” This flat-out contradicts everything that has happened up to that point, not to mention everything I know about Zuckerberg in real life. Having him tearfully send a friend request to the girlfriend he treated like shit really doesn’t make up for anything. I can see Sorkin winning, but it looks like there will be stiff competition in this category.

The rest of the categories are technical ones that I don’t know enough about to judge, aside from Best Director which is essentially a sham. I’m happy that the sound is mixed, but I really don’t have an opinion on its quality versus that of, say, Salt.

It’s certain that The Social Network won’t be going home empty-handed, and perhaps in a feeble attempt at trying to be “relevant” the Academy will give it the big one. But honestly, it’s not the most deserving film of the year.

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