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2011 Best Picture Nomination Countdown: #5 – 'The Social Network'


There’s no point in my reviewing David Fincher’s “Social Network” a second time, even though in preparation for this countdown I did watch the cinematic story behind the creation of Facebook again. Nothing changed my overall opinion of the film and though I’m not a big fan of the titles ranked five through ten on this countdown, anything that made the top five I do consider genuinely impressive, something I enjoyed and will again, and that certainly includes “The Social Network.”

I will say, though, that after watching every film nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, that Aaron Sorkin certainly deserved his nomination. Obviously, I have an awfully low opinion of Sorkin as a human being, but the brilliance of the “Social Network” script can’t be denied. The dialogue is sharp and keeps the story moving, the characters are well defined, but most impressive is a structure that effortlessly leaps from one lawsuit deposition to another to a series of linear flashbacks. The flow of information is non-stop and yet thanks to some extremely well written exposition and a seamless structure, the audience is still able to keep track. That is no small achievement. And while the overall feel of the film might be stand-offish and emotionally detached (by design, I’m sure), it is a thoroughly engrossing story from opening scene to close, even if you’ve already seen it once before.

I do not, however, believe Sorkin deserves to win. The ‘Toy Story 3″ screenplay is far more impressive, a hands-down masterpiece of storytelling filled with more imagination than any film in recent memory. “Magic” feels like too small a word to describe the final and best chapter in Pixar’s beloved toy series, but it’s the only word that does the story justice. Sorkin’s going to win the Oscar and no one can say that his work wasn’t Oscar-worthy, but it was not the most Oscar-worthy amongst those nominated this year.

From my original review:

Directed with skill and precision by David Fincher and impressively scripted by “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network” is tightly told, well paced, and quite brilliantly structured with a story that unfolds through the inter-cutting of two different lawsuit depositions and flashbacks. The acting is impeccable, especially Eisenberg’s performance as the world’s youngest up and coming billionaire and Justin Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker, a craven party-boy genius whose unerring sense of the big picture is frequently undone by a dark nihilistic streak. His Svengali-like influence on Zuckerberg, who like himself is driven beyond reason to settle old scores, real or imagined, will prove the old adage about gaining the world at the cost of your soul.

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