Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Oscars Grouch: "Social Network"

OK so I really am not a movie guy. I recall a line from an episode of "News Radio" where Joe says "I don't go to movies, most movies suck." Frankly I think movies are long and boring and do not fit as well into my life as, say, an episode of "Parks and Recreation" that I can watch during dinner.

Now having said that, I also don't get too caught up into movie awards, mainly because the kind of movies I like typically go unnoticed. (Example: the first Star Trek movie to receive an Academy Award was the 2009 reboot.) The anti-elitist in me tends to bristle at the, uh, elitism of honoring films because they're supposed to be honored. A glowing spoof of this phenomenon is last year's brilliant "Movie Title" from my friends over at

Of course by the same token, I don't really go in for awards to popular movies because they're popular --- that's what, after all, the box office is there to prove. But I am nonetheless fascinated by the zeitgeist informing what constitutes "best" every year.

So we come to it at last: the Whitleypedia grouchy analysis of this year's Oscars (before the nominations are announced). I'm not literate enough in all of 2010's films to go through everything bullet-point by bullet-point, but I will say that I hope "The Social Network" wins best picture.

It was an extraordinary film with no weak points, at least that I detected when I saw it last fall. It's a film that everyone can identify with -- not just because 500 million people are on Facebook -- but because everyone can identify with the protagonist: a sort of loser who thinks he's better than everyone else and, after having been pushed around, has extraordinary success and is basically able to say f--- you to the world that ignored him.

This move is, in effect, a super-hero film. "Mark Zuckerberg" is a Peter Parker-esque nerd who gets super-powers that both ruin and exalt him. His arc is portrayed with a more realistic assessment of how the supernatural affects the mortal than even "Watchmen" could possibly have done.

The other leading contender for best picture is "The King's Speech," a very conservative, traditional Oscar heavyweight. I am sure that everyone involved in creating and promoting the film is brilliant -- and I do believe that Geoffrey Rush is probably the best actor alive today. But the King's arc is far less interesting than "Zuckerberg's," regardless of how well it's portrayed, and as this EW article points out, we don't need yet another best picture about the awesomeness of Great Britain.

The Academy is full of old people, so they may not recognize the significance of "The Social Network," but this year, they may not be able to ignore it.


Leon J said...

Two notes:
Parks and Recreation is a horrible TV show. You couldn't pick a better example?


You thought Zuckerburg was the super HERO? He was the superVILLAN.

Teacher Extraordinaire said...

Dear Jared,
You probably don't even know that I follow your blog, but now you do. And this post was especially enjoyable, as I'm the film teacher at my school. I may have to show them your clip. But let it be known that I greatly enjoyed The King's Speech, but I could have watched it on silent and just enjoyed oogling at Colin Firth...

Katie Hewitt (Remember me?)


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