Oscar Contenders

The Real Story: The 2011 Awards Race is a Unanimous Bore

Please excuse me while I take a nap

One day after the Golden Globes all anyone is talking about is Ricky Gervais. "Sheer Brilliance, Or Career Suicide?" Mark Joyella at Mediaite asks.

Speculation as to the hour Gervais went missing from the telecast had people wondering if he'd been fired mid-show. Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk even told The Hollywood Reporter, "He definitely crossed the line, and some of the things were totally unacceptable. But that's Ricky."

Gervais explained today, "I did every single introduction I was meant to. There just happened to be a long gap. This is because I was allowed to choose who I would introduce in advance. I obviously chose presenters who I had the best jokes for. (And who I knew had a good sense of humor)." He continued, "Everyone took it well and the atmosphere backstage and at the after show was great."

This is all fine and dandy, but why is no one talking about the real story here and how boring this year's awards race has been? If subsequent years follow a similar path awards shows had better hire Ricky Gervais for every single one of them because they're going to need something if they want people to watch, pay attention or even have a reason to care.

If you bounce on over to my "Oscar Overture" section you'll see a certain film has been sweeping every critical list to this point. Along with critical groups such as the National Board of Review, Los Angeles Film Critics, New York Critics, Southeastern Film Critics, San Francisco and Chicago Critics, The Social Network was also deemed the best film of the year by the International Press Academy, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and last night by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Look, it's unanimous. This must be one of the greatest films of all-time considering the unprecedented love it has received.

Sasha Stone addressed this very thing today pointing out how The Social Network is the only film to have been named Best Picture by all of these groups. Looking at her chart, not even recent Oscar winners The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire or No Country for Old Men even come close.

My question is, at what point does this become a matter of group think rather than actual opinion? Are people being true to their opinions or are we coming dangerously close to a point where people are simply scared to say what they think as if there actually are right and wrong opinions?

Some are pointing to The Social Network as the film that "defines a generation". As Peter Travers writes, the film shows "how technology is winning the battle against actual human contact, creating a nation of narcissists shaping their own reality like a Facebook page." I disagree the film defines this generation or any generation as much as it simply defines the swath of people that label themselves by Travers's description. However, I am willing to admit Travers has touched upon what it means to become a true Oscar player in this day and age.

There's an immediacy to our society now and, when news hits, opinions are formed and lines are drawn. "I agree" and "I disagree" are a thing of the past. It has become a situation of you're either on my side or you're wrong and I'm going to tell you so until you finally agree with me. Movie discussions have followed suit as people cheer for their film and people then cheer against the same film. Hyperbole beckons and runs rampant to the point people forget what they were even arguing about in an attempt to win an argument more than participate in a discussion.

Movie and award dedicated websites then begin putting their own spin on the awards race; pointing at how a win for The Social Network would be a sign the Academy is keeping up with the times rather than falling back to the days where Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan, or when Crash upset Brokeback Mountain out of nowhere. Who wants to be labeled as irrelevant? The Academy faces such criticism should a film such as The King's Speech win.

And that criticism could come like a lightning bolt. Twitter and Facebook have made it so, and you better believe anyone covering the awards race and those that are paying attention will be keeping tabs.

Laremy Legel, RopeofSilicon's Box-Office Oracle and Senior Producer at Film.com, and I started discussing this last night as we watched the Golden Globes. I asked him about the effect of social media on the awards race and he said, "It's the astonishing speed at which decisions like this are considered de facto. Those who ask, 'How is The Social Network the frontrunner?' risk looking out of touch and out of the 'cool' crowd. Twitter has made living in an echo chamber a reality. You can chat (or watch) your 20 favorite Oscar bloggers call Social Network as a winner in October, putting you ahead of the curve for your water cooler wagers." He continued, adding, "Then perception becomes reality because it is all the voters hear about."

If we wanted to boil it down to a race between Social Network and The King's Speech, looking at each on Metacritic and RottenTomatoes they both enjoy high scores. The Social Network has a 97% RottenTomatoes score and a 95 score on Metacritic. By comparison The King's Speech has a 95% score on RottenTomatoes and an 88 on Metacritic. However, the user scores differ with The King's Speech scoring higher ratings from users than The Social Network on both sites. Even on IMDb at this moment The King's Speech has an 8.5 rating from readers while The Social Network has an 8.2.

Of course, looking at IMDb, Inception, Toy Story 3 and Black Swan all rank higher than both The Social Network and The King's Speech with The Fighter, 127 Hours and True Grit throwing their hats into the ring.

My point here isn't that The Social Network is a bad film (it's quite good in fact), my point here is the awards race has come to a point where it appears to be more of a group think atmosphere rather than an open forum. With so many films out there I find it impossible for one film to be considered the very best of any given year by every single group out there.

Just look at the compilation of critical top tens put together over at Movie City News. On the first page there are three critics that didn't even name The Social Network in their top ten and only three out of ten named it number one. The argument, obviously, is that it's all about averages and The Social Network is simply named higher on more top ten lists, not necessarily number one on all of them. I understand this, and it is more than just a story of Social Network's dominance. It's also a matter of asking why The King's Speech has long been deemed the only runner-up aside from a few fleeting "what ifs"?

Looking at the scoreboard at Movie City News why isn't anyone asking why we aren't hearing more about Winter's Bone, Inception, Black Swan and Toy Story 3 for Best Picture?

On September 6, The King's Speech screened at the Telluride Film Festival and was instantly deemed an Oscar contender. The Social Network screened shortly thereafter, prior to its Sept. 24 debut at the New York Film Festival and received even louder acclaim. The race was sealed. Now, True Grit and Black Swan are enjoying gangbusters box-office and The Fighter is scooping up acting awards left and right with a likely Screen Actors Guild Best Ensemble award on the horizon while Disney mounts an aggressive Best Picture campaign for Toy Story 3. But the talk remains on The Social Network and it's runner-up The King's Speech.

Is this what we have to look forward to in the future? If so, I hope Ricky Gervais hosts every awards show or perhaps bring on Patton Oswalt because we're going to need something to entertain us. As Ricky says in the unaired Golden Globe promo below, "Because without that it would be f***ing insufferable."

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  • Grissom

    Yea, all excitement i had for this years Osxars are gone because i know Socila Network will win. No competition needed

  • Mason Williamson

    The Social Network is a great film. Personally, though, I prefer Black Swan (it stayed with me MUCH longer after the credits, whereas The Social Network was just great AS I watched it). There are even films I have yet to see that I'd say look superior to The Social Network. When I sat down to watch it for the first time, I thought, about halfway through, "this is what's being called the best film we've seen in years?" Maybe I felt a bit like I was missing something that everyone else got (though Fincher's comments on the praise took that thought of my head). That's why I think so many people have proclaimed it to be the best of the year - to appear as if they got as much from it as everyone else. To appear that they "know" what's so amazing about it.

    So yes, I entirely agree.

    • http://joker93.livejournal.com Nick

      Why the hell would anyone want to appear to know what's amazing about a movie if they actually don't know? Maybe I'm naive, but I just have trouble understanding that.

      I dunno. Why can't it just be accepted that different people see different things in anything. If you asked me why I think The Social Network is a masterpiece and one of the best films of the past few years, I could write you a dozen paragraphs if not more. But if somebody else who holds the movie in just as high regard, couldn't, if legitimate critics' groups, awards associations and us, film lovers on the Internet, are willing to call a movie a masterpiece just 'cause it's a "cool" thing to do, just to "appear" that they know something... then, boy, who can have any faith in humanity.

      You've got exactly what you've got out of The Social Network. Now just because somebody else got much more out of the movie, doesn't mean that it's a false appearance. I saw a great many things in The Social Network, repeatedly so, and I tend to believe it wasn't a mirage.

      • Mason Williamson

        I agree with you completely. No one should claim to love a film strictly because everyone else does, but you can't say you've never met people who do that. I certainly have.

  • VMarsFTW9574

    It's just the way the Academy works- I felt this way with "The Hurt Locker" winning so much last year. Not that it was a bad film, but I felt like "Inglourious Basterds", "Precious" and "An Education" were more deserving than it. The Academy is more concerned with awarding the important film rather than the good film.

    That being said, I did LOVE "The Social Network", it was my favorite film of the year, but I'd be totally fine with "The King's Speech", "The Fighter", "Black Swan", "Toy Story 3" or "Inception" winning. In my opinion, they are all amazing films worthy of many awards. As much as I love it, winning Best Picture won't make "The Social Network" a better film, or make any of the other films any worse. At least that's the way I see it.

    This was an interesting post though Brad!

    • Älskling

      It does seem like The Academy tends to put more stock into an "Important Film". I think of
      Crash's win and Tom Hank's win for Philadelphia…

  • Jack

    You know, last year, we all had to put up with the over rated Hurt Locker winning everything. (And we all know the one reason why it won everything.)

    At least this year the movie sweeping the awards has a solid screenplay.

    • Sela

      what was the one reason it won everything?

      • Raphael Moraglia

        Avatar punishment...

    • Colin

      Don't you know Sela, it's only because a woman directed it. Had nothing to do with the quality of the film just the gender of the artist.

      That excuse is absoloutley absurd to me.

      • Jack

        That's a bingo!

    • m1

      The Hurt Locker. Such a phenomenal film.

      • Jack

        Yeah, if that's what phenomenal films are these days. A film with little to no story.

      • Colin

        Well, it was phenomenal with a minimal and unconventional narrative. It isn't showy or flashy or elaborate in the way that Basterds was, and frankly, sorry to use this phrase again, but it didn't indulge in the way that Basterds did. Nor did it suffer from some the problems with character development that Tarantino's work did. Just because something's cram-packed with so many ideas doesn't mean it's a good movie. Something that many people seem to mistake these days.

      • Jack

        Compare The Hurt Locker to a movie like Black Hawk Down and tell me what the better film is.

        In no stretch of the imagination was the Hurt Locker worthy of best screenplay, let alone best picture.

      • Colin

        ummm, I think I'm okay with calling The Hurt Locker the better of the two movies. Very different movies mind you. My personal favorite from Black Hawk's year, 2001, (wow you've brought back so many good memories from my youth, Jack :) Thank you!) was In the Bedroom.

      • Stiggy

        Not as phenominal as Avatar though. Hurt Locker is nothing more than flash in the pan.

  • Leandro Dubost

    I totally agree, this is very boring. I like "The Social Network", but we know it's going to win the upcoming SAG Awards and whatever comes next and then the Oscars. It's a lock. And it's boring!

    I think I'd rather see a movie I didn't like win the Oscar but at least to have the CHANCE to root for the movie I did like instead of seeing and obviously good choice going for the win.
    Last year I rooted for Avatar and didn't wanted The Hurt Locker to win, even though it was the favorite. But there was a chance of Avatar winning, because of the box office, the Golden Globes, etc... There was a reason to watch the ceremony because Avatar could've pulled an upset and won. It didn't, but I don't cared, it made me watch regardless.

    Now, why watch the Oscar this year?

  • bill

    people other then us, such as the casual movie goer really has no clue who will win any of these awards. Perhaps we just pay to close attention?

    At the end of the day- just enjoy the movies man!

  • The Squeeze

    It is interesting that the race for Best Picture has graduated to something that is beyond strict cinematic excellence. It seems that as soon as The Social Network hit the theaters, it was scooped up by the press as, "a film that defines a generation", calling it, "the best of the decade". I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the movie, and while I agree it is both an interesting character study and a rather timely film (with the importance of social networking in today's world), is it really the Best Picture of the year? Content is quite important yes, and I think that is why the Best Screenplay/Adapted Screenplay categories were created, but I think that the Best Picture category should be reserved for that one film that displays true cinematic excellence. It should really judge films as an entire works of art, and measure every aspect of that work of art as they contribute to the film as a whole. So, with that being said, from a cinematic, technical standpoint, what is the Best Picture of the year?

    • Colin

      I'll go with the 'herd' mentality and say Social Network. Because I do feel it fulfills all of the requirements that you sited. What would you say is the best picture of the year?

      • The Squeeze

        Hmmm... good question :) I was actually just thinking about that, which mainly involved reflecting on past winners...like the Hurt Locker--that was a tour de force movie, that had great acting, a compelling story, an excellent screenplay and it was, in a sense, a fresh approach to a movie (it was so real that it looked like a documentary). The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was truly an epic movie that was visually stunning and a technical masterpiece. Personally, the most original, outrageous (in a good way) movie this year was Black Swan. Great acting, original, edgy story, thought provoking, great cinematography...it was a movie that required a certain amount of recovery and reflection after you saw it. I'm not saying I would be outraged and insulted as a moviegoer if this film wins Best Picture (which it will)...because I think many aspects of it are worthy of praise...but as a piece of art, was it really the best movie of the whole entire year? Obviously this is one component of the many that SHOULD be brought to the table when weighing the films in this category, but did it really bring anything new to the game?

      • Colin

        Did you really think a movie about facebook could be exciting or interesting? I certainly didn't. If you had told me a year ago that a film about the genesis of a social networking site would be one of my favorite films as well the BP front-runner I would have laughed out of how perposterous I thought the idea was. To roughly quote Sorkin, Fincher was able to take scenes of characters talking and typing and made it look as exciting as a bank-robbery.

        What I think sets it apart from the heap is that is in many ways the antithesis of there most prominent features. It isn't a traditional hero or villain of the story. There aren't the kind of likeable qualities that are often associated with what we always assume are good movies and yet we still find ourselves empathizing or identifying with Zuckerberg. All of this empathy towards these "unlikeable" characters is thanks in no part to every nuanced performance with a demanding text. Technically, it's fighteningly perfect to me. The sound, the editing, the cgi work of the surreal dream like snow and breath, the digital cinematography, and the score which is one of the best soundtracks I've heard in year and one that completley changes the tone of the film. To be honest, there are very few movies that floored me the way that Social Network did, and even fewer films that it reminds of.

        I liked Black Swan. Portman throws herself into that role with a fearless level of comitment that merits her praise, though I still feel that Lesley Manville gave the best lead actress performance of the year. Black Swans more heightened nature though reminds me a little too much the melodramas of the 30's and 40's while it's psychological concept reminds me of far superior thrillers of the late 60's and 70's. It's probably meant to serve as a homage to the thrillers of the afforementioned decades but I never found it to be edgy or game changing in the way that many have described.

        Just my take.

      • Jimmy Diamies

        @Colin

        I am not familiar with the melodramas from earlier decades and while I do believe The Social Network is technically phenomenal, it didn't have an effect on me like Black Swan did. I was on the edge of my seat for most of Black Swan. It gripped me the entire time. The direction and editing in it are almost equally impressive to me considering the fantastical elements and it flows flawlessly.

        Just my opinion but I find it interesting that not many people seem to share my love for Black Swan, especially considering I'm not a diehard Aronofsky or Portman fan. The genre of Black Swan I can always watch and enjoy but I don't think I've seen one as good in recent years. Probably forgetting some or haven't seen some so if anyone has suggestions I'm open to them.

      • Colin

        @ Jimmy

        Take a look at Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, or Don't Look Now. All great genre films from one of the best periods in cinema. The first of which, Swan borrows the most from. As mixed as I am about the film one of the benefits is that educates viewers about superior works that inspire it.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

        I will second Colin's suggestion to watch Repulsion, it is an excellent comparison from a psychological standpoint. Not only that, it's an amazing film.

  • ben

    I think it's shameful that this one film is being singled out across the entire board. And i am even more saddened by the neglect that Toy Story 3 has received buzz-wise. It was such a fantastic concoction of humour, sadness and meaning. The final 15 minutes of TS3 made me feel like my heart was being punched. Stunning film sadly counted out as a worthy winner due to its animated nature.

  • Ally

    Yes, the Oscar race feels boring, what with the Best Picture/Director/Actor/Actress/Supporting Actor categories basically locked up. But I try to remind myself that the point of the Oscars is to reward excellence in film, and personally, I believe that The Social Network, David Fincher, Natalie Portman, and Christian Bale are the most excellent in their respective categories, and so I'm glad that they're winning everything. Sure, surprises can be nice, but I'd prefer predictable over a lesser Sandra Bullock/Crash type popping up to win just so it can excite us.

    • Ricky

      i couldn't agree more. i would rather have a predictable ceremony where the most deserving win any day of the week.

  • Liathach

    The whole idea of there being a 'best picture' in any year is completely false anyway, because there are so many different kinds of movies. Which is what Fincher said in that interview, and he's right.

    One thing I think is really dumb is that distributors release all their films that are considered awards-worthy at the same time of year, so the average person who doesn't want to see blockbuster schlock and only goes to the movies once a week or even less frequently can't see all these films before they disappear. So everyone is chasing the 'Oscar boost', but they could also be losing some of the audience they'd get if these movies were released at different times of the year.

  • WillE

    Agree totally. I certainly wouldn't mind Social Network winng the Oscar. It definately deserves a nom, especially with 10 noms. But we need an Oscars that isn't so political. At this point Rope of Silicon has more integrity. At least you awarded the film you truly thought was best. No one should be able to predict a Best Picture winner based on data. It should be a discussion of possibilities, and personal choices.

  • devon

    what people fail to realize is that its all about one person opinion if u get a group of people and a majority of people like one film better than all the other thats why it wins.it doesnt win because it has a higher score on RT or Metric it wins because a majority of people in one group thinks it is the best. so when people get mad that the social network is winning all the awards and they say that other films should win thats like sayin (well since its winning all the awards we wanna b different and give best picture to Sex in the City 2) which would never happen. so if u want a different film to win best picture jion a critics group or create ur own.

  • loxmang

    the idea of one movie being better than another and this being a fact is an idea that was shaped by awards shows anyway... i havent seen the kings speech but i did see the other movies that will be nominated... social network was the most talked about movie of the year and it was great.. well worthy of a best picture award... how often does your own fav movie of the year actually win best picture? mine almost never does and this year is no different... award shows are fun but dumb so lets just relax

  • ddurden33

    my pick for the best movie was inception, but we all knew social network would trump all in its path, so no surprise here, i just watched the show for the silly jokes and awkward celeb reactions to them. the excitement lvl as to who wins was undoubtedly zero. lets hope its a tighter race for next year, besides i am happy, my fav actor chris bale finally got his 1st big award, it was long overdue.

  • Antonio A

    It may appear boring, but I feel it's totally deserved; The Social Network is a triumph, the type of film that you fully enjoy and at the same time deeply admire. However, I still think that the Academy will pull a surprise in the acting nominees... Portman is a lock, but somehow I can picture an upset in one of the other three categories.

    • angel

      I really hope Portman is a lock. I was talking to someone the other day who said they wouldn't be surprised if Annette Benning won, just because of her history with the Academy. I haven't seen The Kids Are Alright, so I can't truly judge between the two performances. But I hope the Academy goes for performance, because otherwise, it shouldn't be acknowledged as Best Performance by and Actress in a Leading Role, but just Best Career that Deserves an Award.

  • Carson Dyle

    The IMDb stat isn't all that fair - look at the sample sizes for each film.

  • The Squeeze

    I do not really foresee too many surprises... I would really like to see the Academy really utilize the Oscar categories as they were created to aptly honor films in the best way though...many movies seemed to have that "flooring effect" this year, so choosing a Best Picture on that merit would be difficult... it is pretty clear from what we have seen that the Social Network will come out on top.

  • Kevin Klawitter

    Awww... the best movie of 2010 is winning all of the awards? Poor baby. Would it be more "exciting" to you if "Vampires Suck" would win a couple of Screenplay prizes and the Acting ensemble from the SAG?

    I'd much rather the best and most deserving movies and performances are nominated and win than something that's of a lesser quality, but is more "inspired".

    • m1

      Well said. Although The Social Network still looks more inspired than Vampires Suck.

  • Billy W

    Is the Social network going to win?? yes. Should it win?? In my opinion, no. I watched the social network once, and that was enough. I got the story, the characters, and i liked it, but that was it. Black Swan, on the other hand, i watched twice because once is not enough to get everything in that movie... the same could be said about Inception, which i have seen thee times now.... and although the number of times you have seen a movie may not mean anything, i think it is a fair testament of the quality of the film, if it leaves you wanting to see it again.... even 127 Hours was better than the social network in my opinion, with a better message and a feeling of hope and strength that few movies give you these days......

  • Ricky

    okay we get it, you didn't enjoy the social network. but it is getting unanimous praise because it deserves it. there is no group think going on. people aren't voting for the movie because they have to. they are voting for it because they liked it. loved it.

    young people like it, old people like it... it has humor, drama, is relevant to the times, and carries a strong message. it is well acted and even better directed. it did well in the box office, and swept critical awards (you can't tell me the boston, new york or los angeles film groups are afraid to make daring choices).

    i think its time you realize that even though you think the movie is good, many think its great. and thats why its winning.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Actually, I quite clearly state in this article this has nothing to do with liking or disliking The Social Network. I even said I thought it was "quite good" and linked to my review. Please read before telling me what I like and don't like please.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Belson/1491574860 Matthew Belson

    All this talk reminds me of Christian Slater's character Clarence at the end of "True Romance." To quote from Quentin Tarantino's script:

    You know, most movies that win a lot of Oscars, I can't stand. "Sophie's Choice", "Ordinary People", "Kramer vs. Kramer", "Gandhi". All that stuff is safe, geriatric, coffee-table dog shit. ... Like that Merchant-Ivory clap-trap. All those assholes make are unwatchable movies from unreadable books. ... They ain't plays, they ain't books, they certainly ain't movies, they're films. And do you know what films are? They're for people who don't like movies. "Mad Max", that's a movie. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", that's a movie. "Rio Bravo", that's a movie. "Rumble Fish", that's a fuckin' movie. And, "Coming Home in a Body Bag", that's a movie. It was the first movie with balls to win a lot of Oscars since the "The Deer
    Hunter".

    Now that's a little extreme, but to me, "The Social Network" feels a "safe, geriatric, coffee-table" movie, while "The Black Swan" feels like it's got some balls. Of course, it could just be me. YMMV

  • Feedback

    I can't help but agree with Ricky. Get OVER it. No one is voting for The Social Network because they HAVE to. They are voting for it because they WANT to. A lot of people really like The Social Network. Thousands and Millions of critics and people alike love the movie. The average scores between the ballots will skyrocket it to winning the coveted prize Fair and Square.

    Discontinue the hysteria. You don't think its the "Best". We know. I don't think Christian Bale was the Best Supporting Actor this year either. But I don't see my personal favorite, Michael Shannon, getting any critical acclaim at all. I'm not upset about it, I just accept the fact everyone really loved Christian Bale's performance.

    You have to realize you are in the minority and thats just how it is. Enjoy your place in the minority. Its not a bad thing, it just means you have a different outlook. No one is condemning you or making you look bad for having it, so stop trying to make everyone else look bad instead.

    Where was this Brad when The Hurt Locker and Avatar were sweeping up awards last year? Two movies that were very underwhelming in terms of story and don't even deserve to be in the same sentence as other Best Picture winners. I think you'll find it hard to not only find someone who names True Grit their "Best Movie", but someone who wasn't very disappointed by its bad ending or unpredictable story progression.

    Its your favorite. Good for you. Everyone else had favorites too, you know. Most of them chose The Social Network. No conspiracy here. They like it. They vote for it. It wins. That's it.

    • beautifulm

      I kind of agree with Feedback here. Doesn't this happen every year??? Didn't Slumdog Millionaire practically sweep all the awards. I mean this is nothing new....there won't be any major surprises at the oscars there never really are. Which is why I don't follow them as much as I used to.

  • Vera

    BAFTA nominations just came out and I think that The Social Network won't be the big winner in Britain, The King's speech will be.

  • Philip

    Although I was very excited and rooting for Black Swan's awards success at the onset of the awards season buzz, I thought of all the films I've seen,
    it was WINTER'S BONE that greatly affected me.
    1. BLACK SWAN was good, but I thought that if it had any tangible message holding the entire story together, it would be only to the extent of the risk of mental breakdown due to obsession towards perfection. Aronofsky's unflinching style was nail-biting, but I thought it was not effective as in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM's power to actually haunt your dreams and give readers a jarring epiphany.
    2. TOY STORY 3 was great, but I still think the second installment was the best.
    3. INCEPTION was a great action movie as well. It generated some discussions among my friends, but the interest just waned.
    Jennifer Lawrence's performance in particular was so strong that it was superbly effective in convincing me of her unrelenting hope and faith even amidst the harshest circumstances she had to overcome. Power to her and the film.

  • ThatGavinFellow

    I think the majority of people know the Social Network isn't the best. Shame they have no say in who wins the Oscars.

  • http://geekyruminations.blogspot.com ton

    This has been a problem for some time now, as the internet has expanded and even coverage for the Oscars has expanded. I've followed the Oscar race online since 2001 and each year the race seems to get more and more diluted. As critic groups expand the group think has become more and more evident. Sure sometimes you get a nominee like The Reader or Laura Linney for The Savages, but when you get certain critics or even blogs that hammer in that one movie is the best or thought as the best, the race is over. Critic groups rarely are able to think themselves anymore. I was shocked when The Social Network, but should I really have been. Countless of middle-aged voters wanted to say how this film defines a moment or generation and look hip by throwing their weight behind. Well considering I'm two months younger Zuckerberg I think I have a pretty good pulse of the times in which Facebook existed, and remember the hysteria when my school joined Facebook. Social Network is a good movie, but to easily call it the best film of the year is a bit much, considering it should have plenty of solid competition (King's Speech, Fighter, True Grit)

  • m1

    Winter's Bone, Toy Story 3, The Hurt Locker, Shakespeare in Love, Slumdog Millionaire, Saving Private Ryan, Lost in Translation, Million Dollar Baby...I seem to love all the films most often called overrated.

    • Colin

      Me too

      • Colin

        well except million dollar baby.

      • Feedback

        2001- The winner was "A Beautiful Mind"
        The best films of that year were actually "Monsters Inc." and "Moulin Rouge!"

        2002- The winner was "Chicago"
        The best films of that year were actually "Gangs of New York" and "About Schmidt"

        2003- The winner was "Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King"
        The best films that year were actually "Finding Nemo" and "Mystic River"

        2004- The winner was "Million Dollar Baby"
        The best films that year were "The Incredibles" and "Sideways"

        2005- The winner was "Crash"
        The best films that year were and "Brokeback Mountain" and "A History of Violence"

        2006- The winner was "The Departed"
        I kind of agree with this one, but you can make the case for "Thank you for Smoking" and "Little Miss Sunshine".

        2007- The winner was "No Country for Old Men"
        The best films that year were "Juno" and "Ratatouille".

        2008- The winner was "Slumdog Millionaire"
        The best films that year were "In Bruges" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona".

        2009- The winner was "The Hurt Locker"
        The best films that year were "Inglourious Basterds" and "(500) Days of Summer"

        The "best one" doesn't always win. It doesn't mean the winner is overrated, it just means they weren't the best. But that pisses people off anyway so they call them overrated.

      • m1

        @Feedback: Our tastes in film differ wildly. Just saying.

      • Feedback

        That much, huh?

      • Älskling

        I'm probably am one of the few people who thinks "Shakespeare In Love" completely deserved its win. It's an intelligent, literate romantic comedy which for m is, from start to finish clever, funny, fast-paced, well-acted by a top-notch cast, engaging, and eminently satisfying.

        "Saving Private Ryan" has a phenomenal opening section which settles into a run-of-the-mill search and rescue film. Without that startling opening, I wonder how beloved it would be? It has that "Important Film" feeling to it. I like it—the cast is fine, the script is good, it's well done—but I didn't get half as much enjoyment out of "Ryan" as I did from the film that "robbed" it of the top prize.

      • m1

        Regarding the Saving Private Ryan vs. Shakespeare in Love argument, I am in the minority who love both films and would have had no problem with either winning.

      • m1

        @Feedback: For 2008, my favorites were WALL-E and Frost/Nixon. For 2009, my favorites were The Hurt Locker and An Education. I can't comment on the other years.

  • bobby

    Brad, let me first say that I don't think the Social Network was the best film of the year. By far, I think that honor goes to Inception, but with The Social Network easily in second. However, with this article I think you do an outstanding job giving reasons why The Social Network should win. I mean seriously, your entire article is based on the premise that technology is altering the way we interact in this world and how things like Twitter are changing the voting process. You also talk about how society is now beginning to identify itself more as a group than with individualized opinions, and that we are ever increasingly being affected by other people's thoughts. These are all resounding themes of this incredible movie that does define the direction in which this world is going. How can you not see that incredible irony? You have to understand, it doesn't simply describe the emergence of Facebook but also the emergence of the new technological world we live in where information is more more attainable than ever before. Honestly, you work as a critic on a movie website, an idea that years ago would have seemed insane. Of all people, you have to realize how this world has changed so much, and how everything is now defined in completely different terms than it was before. Why do you insist that this movie isn't as special as it truly is and that it doesn't clearly and vividly describe the rapid way in which our world is changing and progressing? As I said, it isn't even my number one of the film of the year, but I do think that its an absolute classic. With this article, you do a great job giving reasons why.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Post/694595997 Mark Post

    I have to admit to being completely confused by the rising backlash and cries of "sheep!" by those who are annoyed The Social Network is sweeping everything. Isn't this what is supposed to happen when there is a clear-cut best movie of the year? Granted, no one will always agree on a movie and The Social Network has its (very few) detractors, but it's also been universally acclaimed and was considered the best movie of the year by more critics than I actually knew existed.

    I understand this must be very boring for those who report and analyze such things, but that doesn't make The Social Network any less brilliant or less deserving of it's now etched in stone Best Picture win.

    • Ryan

      What the point is is that: THERE'S NO COMPETITON OR EXCITEMENT. You automatically know they are going to call The Social Network's name as Best Picture at every awards show. Quite frankly, i think that's unfair and gives no other film a chance.

      • m1

        So groups should pick a film that they don't agree is the best? That makes perfect sense.

  • Brian

    I thought Social Network was a decent film but not my favorite film this year. I thought this was a terrible year for movies in general. I think people have to realize that Social Network is being voted for best film of the year not favorite film of the year, there is a difference. A lot of people enjoy Goonies, Die Hard, and Pixar films but those are not beating out Platoon, Rain Man, and No Country for Old Men in the Oscar race, not gonna happen. And probably shouldn't happen.

  • JPB

    Maybe all the hype ruined it, but I thought the Social Network was good, but sometimes difficult to hear the dialogue with all the noise/music (best score?). It was interesting to learn how it all happened, but ultimately underwhelming with a minimal climax. And J Timberlake, the role of his career? He was okay,but distracted more than added. Jesse was phenomenal as the lead and was what made this watchable, but I would watch Inception again (and again), and True Grit (and prior winners Slumdog and Hurt Locker and No Country) way before I would watch it again.

  • Sam E

    Sure it's possible to say another movie was reasonably the best of the year but I think that the overall critical consensus is that the Social Network is the best film of the year and the awards are supposed to reflect the consensus not every possible opinion.

  • Ren

    Thanks for the great article Brad. I couldn't agree more, sadly. If this continues to be the norm then we'll all be giving Rumpelstiltskin a run for his money.
    Group think. One of the worst things to happen to film ... and just about everything else.

  • Dan

    I saw The Social Network for the first time last night. Yes, it was a great film. However, I didn't find it to be a piece of spectacular film making. Sorkin's script was superb, as was Reznor's score. However, the whole film seemed to lack ambition. When you look at other movies that are potential nominees, they actually are ambitious. Inception was a $200 million dollar gamble that was one of the brainiest blockbusters we've ever seen, the Coen Brothers made a phenomenal film in the dying-but-not-quite-dead Western genre. Black Swan was a great portrayal of a descent into madness, and The Kids Are All Right dared to bring a functional lesbian family to the screen. And who didn't experience the full spectrum of emotion while watching Toy Story 3?

    I am not saying this to discredit The Social Network. I really feel it was a great movie. However, there were other great films this year that dared to "dream a little bigger."