Monday, January 31, 2011

Social Network and the Oscars

Several people have asked me what I thought of the movie Social Network and whether I would recommend it.

I have watched all the 2010 Oscar (Academy Award) best movie nominees and this is my take on Social Network, and why it should win best movie of 2010. It was deftly directed by David Fincher (who also made classics like Fight Club and Se7en) but did not include any major stars to draw audiences like the other nominees. Every other nominee (except Winter’s Bone) has multiple Hollywood heavies in significant roles. And it was based on a ‘maybe’ story/book unlike some other Oscar nominees based on ‘true’ events (like The Fighter, The Kings Speech, or 127 Hours) that audiences are typically suckers for.

So why is Social Network the best movie of 2010.

Firstly it is not a clich̩ crafted just for the Oscars with EPIC, principel karacter flaw, artsy-faRtsy themes (Black Swan, True Grit, The Kings Speech Рall pretty good movies BTW). We have also repeatedly seen movies about famous people and moments in history winning these Best Movie awards. Social Network is not one of these historical movies. Or is it?

Fincher is immensely successful in showing how tech companies like Facebook (and in some ways Google, Apple, Microsoft etc) have started – i.e. with an idea and some brilliant (or crazy) minds. These folks have defied odds and have gone through the grinder to create some of the most successful companies of this generation. Past movies have tried this before, but with not much success (see for a good one). The movie's premise of the geek starting up a company amidst a high profile university and controversy works effectively with the relatively unknown cast of characters.

But Fincher taps into something bigger. Social networking (and Facebook) has changed the way people live and interact. No longer is Facebook just a photo-n-update tool. It's quickly becoming a major vehicle for groups and communities, voice and expression, and as we have seen recently – revolution. The influence of Facebook (and Twitter) can't be denied as one of the catalyst for the recent uprisings in the Middle East (Tunisia, Egypt and maybe others?) So maybe the movie is about big moments in history and famous people after all (?!?) I don't mean to say that Fincher foresaw this, but the movie shows the seeds of a historical moment/company.

While other movies might have the best actor (Colin Firth), best actress (Natalie Portman) or even the best visual effects (Inception), Social Network is relevant, contemporary, well-casted, well directed and fresh. It is revolutionary like the concept behind it and maybe it in turn will start a new trend in Oscar winners.

So 2 Thumbs Up or 5 Stars or 10 popcorns or tomatoes if you like - but Social Network is a must watch!

Technologies discussed: Facebook, Twitter, social networking

Contact me:
Sujan Manandhar
Technology Integration Specialist,
Foreign Language Center
Ohio State University