The Social Network

Written by  //  February 14, 2011  //  Media & Popular Culture  //  8 Comments

(Guest blogger Lekha’s back offering us her take on how that-facebook-movie will do at the Oscars)

Between the 500 million status updates reading, “Just watched that Facebook movie and it is awesome/totally untrue/misogynistic/loveXXX” and Zadie Smith’s review, it’s all been said, and then some. The only movie that I’ve spent more time reading about is “Inception” and its three million crackpot theories. So instead of another review about how this movie totez defines my(?) LOLtastic generation, how about we discuss its prospects at your office’s Oscar betting pool?

Let’s do the easy ones first: Aaron Sorkin is practically a shoo-in for the Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay Award. If nothing else, “The Social Network” (TSN) was a dialogue-centric movie. It didn’t underestimate its viewers and it didn’t come off like a bunch of guys wildly hypothesizing on what “smart folk probably sound like”. Sorkin has years of experience writing snappy, witty dialogue for the critically acclaimed TV show, “The West Wing“, and it really comes through in this movie. Besides, Sorkin was the one who wrote, “You can’t handle the truth!“. Give the man an Oscar already.

If it were up to me, I’d give the Best Cinematography award to “Inception” just for the zero gravity fight scene. Otherwise, it’s a close call between Black Swan and TSN. Despite being a movie about entitled computer nerds, TSN was a visually stunning movie, especially the (now much-talked about) Henley Royal Regatta scene. But “Black Swan” just had more opportunities to showcase creative artistic devices and moody lighting, what with all the beautiful women looking scared/ flitting gracefully across the set.

As the (apparently fictional) stony-faced, socially inept Mark Zuckerberg, Jesse Eisenberg was chillingly convincing. From the odd gait to the twisted lips, Eisenberg played the part to perfection. But his real achievement was, despite having to play such an unrelatable character who almost seems robotic at times, he managed to humanize him. While the audience’s sympathies may have been with Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) at having been shafted by his best friend, it was Eisenberg who claimed our empathy. The Best Actor Award– will Jesse win it? Doubt it. He’d have to beat Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech“. Everybody knows that the Academy has an enormous crush on the British monarchy and can barely restrain itself from flinging all its statuettes at movies about them. And Colin has already won at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, both of which are considered good indicators of which direction the wind is blowing. Besides, there was something so endearing about Colin impotently gasping for words, unable to express himself. If Colin wins this one, you won’t hear any cries of protest from the TSN bandwagon.

As for the Best Director Award, the Coen brothers won recently, so I doubt they’ll be taking the trophy home this time. Tom Hooper though, is the dark horse who just may end up taking the prize home, after his recent win at the Directors Guild Awards. For me, it is a close call between Darren Aronofsky and David Fincher—both of whom have made iconic movies in the past and are extremely deserving of every accolade being heaped on them for their latest effort. Fincher ought to beat out Aronofsky because it takes a special kind of skill to make a movie where computer programming+vodka shots is passed off as a nail-biting action scene, and actually manage to get us cheering wildly.

People saw the non-nomination of “The Dark Knight” in the Best Picture category as an egregious lapse on the Academy’s part. [The AMPAS should have been publicly flogged, drawn and quartered. – Alok] Lest they be called doddering old snobs who love them some prunes, the Academy made some major changes to update themselves to accommodate the v2.0 crowd. This meant having younger hosts for the ceremony and having 10 nominations for Best Picture so the cooler movies get nominated too. This whole get-with-the-programme strategy of the Academy also meant they had to invite Miley Cyrus and Kristen Stewart to the ceremony, but so long as the draw the line at Snookie, I think we can all agree that it’s a fair trade-off, now that movies like “District 9” are finally getting their due.

Of course, it will be a few more centuries before the Academy actually starts giving the Best Picture Oscar to certain genres of movies, so we can safely rule out the following movies from this year’s contenders: “Toy Story 3” (token animated movie), “Inception” (token sci-fi movie), “Winter’s Bone” (token hard-hitting indie movie) and “The Kids are All Right” (token quirky family drama).

This leaves the following serious contenders: “True Grit“, “The King’s Speech”, “127 Hours”, “Black Swan”, and TSN. Of these, I’ve a very strong feeling that the victor will be TSN. This is, after all, The Year of Facebook. Zuckerberg has been constantly in the news, becoming Time magazine’s Person of the Year and donating millions to charity. Contrary to what Zuckerberg’s PR people feared, TSN does not vilify him. He comes off as an incredibly dedicated, simple guy who is, despite all his billions, just a boy at heart; which is far better press than bequeathing all your money to charity can buy.

A couple of weeks ago, Delhi had a minor earthquake in the middle of the night. All the shaking woke me up, and since my computer was right there, I lost no time in updating my Facebook status to “Earthquake!” patting myself on the back for being the first. And that’s when I noticed that at least 3 people had already updated their statuses about the earthquake. This could only mean one thing: these people were updating their Facebook statuses during the earthquake instead of, oh I don’t know, crawling to safety under their desks.

Yes I don’t think we need to worry about the imminent zombie apocalypse finishing off humanity any more—we’ve already lost our sense of self-preservation. Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg! How about, in retaliation we get Hollywood to make a movie about how you (probably) stabbed your best friend in the back, make it a box office success AND critically acclaimed (you know the twain rarely meet) and ironically talk about it endlessly on Facebook?

Your move, Zuckerberg.

8 Comments on "The Social Network"

  1. Anisha February 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm ·

    I’m a big Sorkin fan in general but I thought his script here was pretty hard to swallow. I agree with Zadie Smith that he made Zuck sound like both parts of Josh and Toby hammering away at each other in the West Wing (great for a fictional yarn but not when the earnest original is to be found dishing out sweet interviews all over Youtube). But, you are almost certainly right, he will win (and as a follow-up to the writer of that Precious, anyone would look like the rightful heir to Nabakov).

    Actually, I’d agree with all your picks. Fincher’s a very stylish director and probably deserves the prize. Aronofsky made an incredibly intense film but something sticks in the throat at the thought of awarding his, er, character development: white swan = pink fluffy teddy bears and (gosh!) virginity and black swan = goth fashion sense, tattoos and (gasp!) lesbian hook-up.

    Best picture: you left out “The Fighter”. Token druggie flick, possibly? I haven’t yet seen it…

  2. Suhrith February 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm ·

    @Anisha: I am not sure The Fighter is a serious contender. If it is, it shouldn’t be. No doubt, its a decent ‘feel good’ movie with good performances, but parts of it was far too fluffy.

  3. Lekha February 15, 2011 at 5:12 am ·

    @ Anisha: Yeah, the whole banter thing did sound familiar, but any artist with a large body of work is bound to “repeat” a few characters or styles. Woody Allen suffers from the safe problem, even Ursula K LeGuin’s characters began to bear a familial resemblance. I suppose artists just like doing things that they know worked in the past?

    And yes, the exclusion of Fighter was deliberate. Actually I don’t think even 127 Hours is going to win, but I liked the movie so much, I decided to pretend it had a chance!

  4. Harsh February 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm ·

    Well, its Ficnher’s turn. No recogintion for Zodiac by the Academy, Benjamin Button wasnt going to make it, Fight Club is now a modern cult classic irrespective of what one feels about what the film has to say. Tom King’s Speech Hooper is still a new kid on the block, Arfonsky is good but the perception is the “Pie” man should be happy he is up there, Coens have won 2 already and it ll be 3 too many. So Fincher it is. And yes the man deserves it! Great writing, editing and performances all around.

  5. Harsh February 28, 2011 at 9:09 am ·

    Fincher turn? Tom the new kid on the block? I am humbled. And a little disappointed. I hope Finsher’s turn comes soon. Real soon. If you miss out for a film that became an instant classic, the Academy Vijeta King must have been good. Real good.

  6. Lekha March 1, 2011 at 8:52 am ·

    Hooper became a front runner the moment he won the DGA award. Apparently the decision of the DGA and the Academy for the director trophy have differed on only six occasions since the inception of the awards.

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