C'MON HOLLYWOOD: The Social Network was robbed!!!
David Fincher and producer Scott Rudin were robbed at the Oscars this year. Its a fact. As good as THE KINGS SPEECH was (and it IS a good, perhaps even excellent film), it just doesnt quite compare to THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Things looked pretty good for the Facebook movie in the wake of the Golden Globes. After all, if an organization as tasteless as the Hollywood Foreign Press can acknowledge THE SOCIAL NETWORK , why wouldnt the all-important Academy?
Perhaps the problem is that people give the Oscar voters too much credit. Why is it that the Oscars are considered the final word in which film is considered the years best? Cant that only be judged in the years following? Ive been writing off the Oscars ever since CHILDREN OF MEN failed to get a best picture nomination in 2006. Consider some of the biggest Oscar upsets- specifically, the two times Martin Scorsese was robbed. This happened first in 1980, when ORDINARY PEOPLE beat RAGING BULL, and again in 1990 when DANCES WITH WOLVES beat GOODFELLAS. ORDINARY PEOPLE and DANCES WITH WOLVES are both pretty good films, but not half as good as the Scorsese movies.
These types of tremendous oversights are not unique. In 2004, the maudlin and mediocre CRASH beat BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, and in 2002 CHICAGO won. CHICAGO! Consider these other best picture upsets: HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY beating CITIZEN KANE. FOREST GUMP beating PULP FICTION. The unwatchable GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH beating HIGH NOON, THE QUIET MAN, and SINGIN IN THE RAIN!!! As Steven Spielberg himself said at the ceremony Sunday night, if youre one of the nine movies that dont win, youll be in the company of THE GRAPES OF WRATH, THE GRADUATE, CITIZEN KANE, and RAGING BULL. He should know- with him losing best picture for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN to SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.
But what makes THE SOCIAL NETWORK such a brilliant film, as opposed to the merely excellent KINGS SPEECH. I could go on and on about Jesse Eisenbergs brilliant lead performance, which is the equal of Colin Firth Oscar-winning turn in SPEECH. Perhaps its even superior, as isnt it harder to humanize an unlikable guy as opposed to a charming underdog King, and the kind of stutter thats an actors dream. I could also go on about the brilliant, soon-to-be iconic soundtrack by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, but luckily, that actually won in its category, as did Aaron Sorkins amazing screenplay.
Perhaps the one area it really got the shaft was in the directing category. Apologies to Tom Hooper, but hes not quite at Finchers level. I think any half-decent director could have made KINGS SPEECH into a winner with that script, and those actors. In Finchers case, THE SOCIAL NETWORK could have been a complete disaster. I mean, who really wanted to go see a movie about Facebook? Well, after word got out about how great it was, everyone did.
The funny thing is, I dont even think THE SOCIAL NETWORK is Finchers best movie. For me, it ranks just below FIGHT CLUB (which was far too controversial to even land a nomination in 1999), and perhaps about on par with SE7EN, but theyre such different films, its hard to judge. The fact is, of the film's it was nominated with, THE SOCIAL NETWORK was clearly the best (matched only by INCEPTION, which sadly didn't have a chance due to the Academy's long-held bias against action/sci-fi films). Maybe in another year, THE SOCIAL NETWORK wouldnt have been such a clear-cut winner, but this year- it should have landed the big prize. Sadly, the more obvious sentimentality of THE KINGS SPEECH won out. The beat goes on.
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