|What can I say about The Social Network that hasn't already been said? Peter Travers called it the "movie of the year," the Harvard Crimson called it "flawless," and it has earned the Best Picture prizes of National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama. While I'm not ready to call it the best movie of 2010, I will say it is well deserving of the accolades it has thus far received.|
Based on the controversial book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, The Social Network tells the story of an unlikeable, geeky, misanthropic Harvard student named Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) who is on the verge of founding Facebook. Eisenberg's portrayal of the enigmatic Zuckerberg is as an aloof misfit who easily gets lost in his own thoughts and projects, and doesn't always see the big picture. This mirrors Zuckerberg's real public persona, which has always come off as awkward and—at times—a little sketchy. The film also stars Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg's former best friend and Facebook co-founder Eduardo, who is suing him for allegedly cheating him out of his shares in the company, and Justin Timberlake as Napster co-founder and early Facebook investor Sean Parker. There was some awards buzz surrounding both Garfield and Timberlake early on, but it failed to earn either an Oscar nod.
One of the things that stands out most about the film is its screenplay. Written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, the film is full of the witty, rapid-fire dialogue we've come to expect from his memorable films (see The American President and A Few Good Men). Sorkin is known for intelligent dialogue, fast-paced unfolding of the action, and memorable quotes, and The Social Network does not disappoint. The film's cultural impact stems from its great script. Case in point: The most-quoted movie line of 2010 came from this film: "A million dollars isn't cool, you know what's cool? A billion dollars!"
Of course Sorkin doesn't deserve all the credit for what makes this one of the best films of the year; Director David Fincher took Sorkin's words and made them into the cinematic gem they became. What could have been simply a good movie became, under Fincher's guidance, a cultural milestone which, many believe, helped skyrocket Zuckerberg to Time's Man of the Year status.
The Social Network also succeeds for a much more obvious reason than Sorkin or Eisenberg or Fincher. It succeeds because of Zuckerberg himself. It succeeds because Facebook is how the current generation expresses and defines itself. It succeeds because whether you are one of them or not, there are 600 million people on Facebook—that's one heck of a good built-in audience. I'll leave predictions for how the film will actually fare at the Academy Awards for a later post (though with eight nominations, I will go out on a limb and say it won't leave the Kodak Theatre empty-handed) and just say that no matter what happens on February 27th, 600 million people will be talking about it the next day on Facebook.