Last week, The Rewatchables, a podcast on The Ringer about classic movies, covered The Social Network and made a compelling case to name the David Fincher film the best of the decade. This sent me down a rabbit hole on YouTube as I tried to answer the question myself. It turns out that back in January, I caught the beginning of the movie on TV and I fired off this tweet at 11:44 PM.
The Social Network is not just a good movie. The Social Network is a really good fucking movie. Back in 2010, Facebook was still rising in the ranks of social media sites. It was arguably the most popular social media site at the time, but consumers were still transitioning over from Myspace so it wasn’t a juggernaut just yet. It was a billion dollar company, but no one, besides maybe Mark Zuckerberg, knew just how powerful this company would eventually become.
Creating a social media giant isn’t exactly the most attractive Hollywood idea, but screenwriter Aaron Sorkin saw something more. The movie is based on the 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich. Just like most Hollywood films, The Social Network is dramatized. The film is not an accurate representation of what happened, and honestly, that’s ok. I don’t look at this film and use it as my primary source for how Facebook started. Mark Zuckerberg was not even consulted for the film. That being said, I see what Aaron Sorkin saw in the beginning; a story about friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and power. That is a screenplay that screams major motion picture.
When you look at successful movies like The Social Network, everything has to perfectly come together. The writer, director, and actors have to be in the right place at the right time. Aaron Sorkin, who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for this film, wrote the film. David Fincher, who is arguably a Top 10 Director of the last 30 years, directed the film. Jesse Eisenberg gave the performance of a lifetime as Mark Zuckerberg. Andrew Garfield, who was unknown at the time, did a really good job as Eduardo Saverin. Justin Timberlake, who was an international superstar at the time, made Sean Parker a rockstar. The film was also responsible for launching the careers of Rooney Mara, Armie Hammer, and Max Minghella. All of these moving parts clicked and it resulted in a film that won 3 Oscars and truthfully, it should have won more.
What makes this movie so special is the dialogue. It’s the backbone of the film. Every scene is masterfully paced and worded so much that the conversations have more action than a Summer blockbuster. Will Mark make Facebook a giant? Will Sean or Eduardo get the inside track to Mark’s heart? How will this story end? A couple scenes come to mind when thinking of this film. The transitions this film makes from the present to the past is a credit to the talent of David Fincher. It’s a masterclass in film making and editing. The scene that comes to mind off the top of my head is when Mark finally betrays Eduardo, diluting his shares of Facebook. Destroying the laptop, the argument between Eduardo and Mark, the snarky remarks from Sean. The scene makes a giant business consequence secondary to the real heart of the film, the friendship between Mark and Eduardo.
“SORRY, my Prada’s at the cleaners. Along with my hoodie and my fuck you flip-flops, you pretentious douche bag!”
Did I mention the score is spectacular? Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who are members of Nine Inch Nails, won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. This might be my favorite film score of all-time. The piano riff that backs most of the movie is able to convey the emotions of every single climatic moment in the movie.
After all of that, the question still remains. Is The Social Network the best movie of the decade? Off the top of my head, it definitely deserves a seat at the discussion table. There are so many movies that I’m probably forgetting a lot, but when you run down the list of Academy Award nominees for Best Picture since 2010, it’s clear The Social Network is towards the top.
Watch the beginning scene below, which details the fight between Mark and Erica as well as Mark’s walk through the campus. The writing, acting, directing, and soundtrack are on full display and set the tone for a really good fucking movie.