The suggestion that the story behind the founding of Facebook could make for a compelling and timely cinematic drama would have been greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism just a year and a half ago.
Now we are but a few weeks away from the release of The Social Network and early word of mouth is that the Facebook-inspired project might not only be destined for Oscar glory, but it could resonate with the generation of Internet-savvy moviegoers the way films like On the Waterfront or The Graduate did with young adults alive in the 1950s and 60s, respectively.
General interest in The Social Network first picked up when acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) and director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) became involved with the project. The release of an ominous teaser and official trailer a few months ago both indicated that these talents had in fact crafted an intriguing social drama for the 21st century.
The casting of Social Network players Andrew Garfield as the new Spider-Man and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in Fincher's upcoming take on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has only helped keep the Facebook movie in the limelight. Star Jesse Eisenberg - who plays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg - was already a respectable actor in his own right, and his face has been featured prominently throughout the Social Network marketing campaign (see below).
Fincher previously made a bid for Oscar glory back in 2008 with his big-budget fantasy tale The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That flick was the filmmaker's third collaboration with star Brad Pitt and was generally regarded as a visually gorgeous picture that suffered from a ponderous pacing and lacked the emotional punch of the duo's previous joint efforts. Ultimately it was beaten throughout the awards season by the little indie pic that could, director Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire.
The Social Network looks to be an overall darker project that deals with timeless themes involving the corruptive nature of power, greed, and the desire for success - issues more fitting to Fincher's sensibilities as a director. Sorkin has more than proven himself capable of scripting engaging political and personal dramas in the past, so his involvement is definitely a plus as well.
Blockbuster summer releases like Toy Story 3 and Inception were both hits with critics and moviegoers alike and are virtually guaranteed to dominate the animation and technical categories during the upcoming awards season. The Social Network should have an easier time building momentum in the acting/writing/directing categories than those two flicks, which will suffer from being released earlier in the year.
Fincher's Facebook flick still has plenty of competition from upcoming indie flicks like Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan or Danny Boyle's new film, 127 Hours - among several others. The Fall 2010 Movie Season is just warming up and it will be interesting to see which new releases succeed or fail during the last few months of the year.
The Social Network arrives in theaters in the U.S. on October 1st, 2010.