4.0, United States/Canada

The Social Network

#5: The Social Network by David Fincher. In the ten days leading up to the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, I listed my ten favorite films of 2010, each accompanied by a custom Criterion Collection cover inspired by Sam Smith’s Top 10 of 2010 Poster Project.

2010 / David Fincher > Everything’s been said about Fincher’s take on Mark Zuckerberg and the birth of Facebook. Ambition, betrayal, Aaron Sorkin’s biting dialogue—all these add to 8 Oscar nominations and near-universal acclaim. But sadly, The Social Network may be one of those films that feel so “important” that it’s hard for any self-conscious viewer to admit in disliking it. It’s technically sound filmmaking that lacks the heart which might propel The King’s Speech to Best Picture. It’s a film for those who thrive on competition and know, because of that drive, how easy it is to lose family and friends. It describes a culture all too common in upper academia of the northeast and Silicon Valley, where intelligence and wealth intersect in devastating fashion.

Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg is cold, defensive. But what makes his Best Actor nomination worthy is the the vulnerability he shows throughout. It’s amazing, in fact, how much one’s insecurities actually work as a motivator. Whether the story’s true or accurate doesn’t actually matter, though. This is a movie; it’s effectively fiction. And for that, Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer brilliantly bring to life the game’s players with unique characteristics, often built on Sorkin’s snarky writing. The much-lauded screenplay isn’t perfect by any means. People don’t talk in such witty quips, but thankfully Sorkin left out much of his liberal slant—there’s a different kind of politics at play here.

Unusually, The Social Network works as a motivator as much as Rudy or Breaking Away. You watch these guys battle it out and wonder if you could have done the same. Maybe not everyone goes to an Ivy league school, but everyone has ideas. And it doesn’t matter if you’re in a small town in the corner of Idaho or at Harvard Square, these ideas can be put to work. The Internet has made anyone’s ambition possible. And suddenly, in some way, in Zuckerberg, there’s a bullseye to target.