Can The Social Network Maintain Momentum?

Sara Vilkomerson | October 1, 2010

The Social NetworkThe Social Network didn’t hit theaters till today, but gosh, it sure doesn’t feel that way, does it? This film—destined to be known for all eternity as The Facebook Movie—has been building buzz slowly but surely. It was screened for select media and industry types who gave it early raves; it got a gorgeous cover treatment and (an incredibly good) story by Mark Harris in New York Magazine; the New Yorker snagged a rare interview with the real Mark Zuckerberg; it opened the New York Film Festival; and Entertainment Weekly currently has it on the cover. It’s been called alternately the movie of the moment (or decade, or modern era), a brand new Citizen Kane for our times, it has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and, jeez, is there a subway platform, bus station, or construction site that doesn’t have it that Punk/Billionarie/Genius poster on it?

To be fair, we were a little biased against the movie going in. Call it part of our future-is-now phobia, or the general eye roll of Facebook, or just plain ole fur ruffling to all the hype. But then we saw the movie and had to take back every word and jump firmly aboard the hype machine. Because you know what? This is a really good movie. It is, above all else, very entertaining — an impeccable piece of filmmaking, exceptionally written, and wonderfully acted. And just how often does one get to see a nerd story set as a slick thriller?

So now here’s an interesting thing to consider: is this movie, as has been discussed already at length on The Internet, a shoo-in for an Oscar? It’s a film that, in theory, is very of the moment, and “the kids” will flock to (we’ll see how the box office goes this weekend), and that movie snobs love, with a very fine pedigree: director David Fincher has never won an Oscar, ditto Aaron Sorkin (sure, sure, plenty of Emmys but does movieland really care about that?). Jesse Eisenberg has been doing excellent work since way back to the Rodger Dodger days (go back and watch The Squid and the Whale if you have any doubts about this young actor’s talent) and Justin Timberlake may have actually solidified his acting career by turning in a rather fascinating example of how to channel charisma, darkly.

But, on the other hand, it’s only October 1st! And there’s an awful lot of heavy hitters coming our way between now and December 31 (dark horse money will be The King’s Speech though personally we’re most excited to get a look at Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere and indie favorite Blue Valentine). Expert Oscar prognosticator Tom O’Neill recently pointed out over at the LA Times’ Gold Derby, that Oscar voters are traditionally tricky (the official Academy screening for The Social Network is Saturday night), and, “their refusal to nominate the hugely popular, critically acclaimed The Dark Knight for best picture of 2008 recently forced the academy to expand the list of nominees to 10.” So it will be interesting to see what happens, but for now we’ll just recommend that you go out this weekend and see it for yourself.