'The Social Network': What's its toughest Oscar competition?

Eisenberg: Merrick Morton

With glowing reviews and impressive box office, The Social Network will without a doubt be an Academy Award nominee in several major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay are slam dunks even at this early date. But what will its toughest competition be? Let’s look at it race by race.

Best Picture I feel confident that we’ve now seen at least half of the 10 eventual Oscar nominees, now that Inception, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, and The Social Network have reached theaters and The King’s Speech, Hereafter, and 127 Hours have each played a festival or two. Of that list, The King’s Speech strikes me as the strongest overall contender. I also have a hunch that the Coen brothers’ version of True Grit could end up as a major player.

Best Director David Fincher’s been nominated once before, for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He lost to Slumdog Millionaire‘s Danny Boyle, who could enter the race again this year for 127 Hours. But Fincher doesn’t need to worry about Boyle for the win. Besides The King’s Speech filmmaker Tom Hooper, Inception‘s Christopher Nolan and Joel and Ethen Coen for True Grit seem like top contenders. Again, it’s very early, but I could even see the Academy giving Best Picture to something more traditional like The King’s Speech and recognizing someone like Fincher in the directing category.

Best Actor It’s easy to look at Jesse Eisenberg’s turn and say that he’s doing the same deadpan brainiac thing he’s done before, but I really hope the actors’ branch recognizes what a phenomenal performance he gives. The more the film takes off overall, the better his chances are—but beating the likes of Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Robert Duvall (Get Low), Javier Bardem (Biutiful), and James Franco (127 Hours) will be difficult.

Best Supporting Actor I’ve already written about the decision to mount three supporting actor campaigns for The Social Network. I’d say Andrew Garfield is the film’s strongest shot at a nod here, though he’d face a slew of comparative veterans: Geoffrey Rush is a lock for The King’s Speech, while I’d say The Fighter‘s Christian Bale and The Kids Are All Right‘s Mark Ruffalo are also deserving of inclusion. Then there’s Matt Damon, who could be a Academy-friendly scene stealer in True Grit.

Best Adapted Screenplay I’d call Aaron Sorkin the clear frontrunner in this race; interestingly, though he’s won an Emmy for writing The West Wing and has also earned three Golden Globe nods in the screenplay category, he’s never been nominated for an Oscar. Perhaps the two other top adapted contenders are past winners in the original screenplay category: Toy Story 3‘s Michael Arndt (who won for Little Miss Sunshine), and the Coens (who have actually been victorious in both screenplay races). Thankfully for Sorkin, The King’s Speech and The Kids Are All Right will both compete in the original screenplay race.

Best Original Score It’s been exciting to see the Academy’s music branch embrace contemporary artists (A.R. Rahman, Eminem) over the past decade. Can we now dream that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ uniquely hypnotic Social Network score could actually get nominated? Please yes. If media attention determined the winner, it would certainly be a race between those two and Inception‘s Hans Zimmer. Though Toy Story 3‘s Randy Newman and The King’s Speech‘s Alexandre Desplat (both past nominees) would be formidable opponents as well.

At this point I see The Social Network at least leaving the Kodak with one piece of hardware. The next few weeks will dictate how much that number could rise.

Are you following me yet? (@davekarger)

Comments (68 total) Add your comment
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  • m1

    I would say that Winter’s Bone and Toy Story 3 would be its major competition. The Academy’s reception of Inception was embarrassingly bad. Comedy’s have lost their touch with the Academy, so I don’t think The Kids Are All Right has a shot either. The Social Network, Winter’s Bone, and Toy Story 3 will all be nominated in Adapted Screenplay.

    • Cole9219

      Toy Story 3? May I ask what it’s adapted from?

      • Jose

        Toy Story 1 and 2. Rules dictate that sequels must compete in the adapted screenplay category.

    • Nick B

      The Kids are All Right certainly does have a shot at a nomination. Not a guarantee, but a shot. It’s not your standard comedy movie. It’s a comedy-drama, or dramedy if you will. And those do tend to be the types of comedies that are recognized at the Oscars, i.e. Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Lost in Translation, Sideways, etc. were all Best Picture nominees. And all of those managed to be nominated in a more narrow race with only 5 nominees. With 10 nominees, I’d say The Kids Are All Right certainly has a shot.

      • m1

        I mean for a win, sorry.

    • Evin

      they nominated The Blind Side last year dude, Inception is definitely getting nominated for best picture.

      • ks

        I agree Inception was on many levels nomination worthy.

  • Adam

    No mention of The Town anywhere? The movie has a score of 95% over at RottenTomatoes; seems to me like it should be at least included in the conversation here.

    • Carrie #2

      Ditto, it’s IMO a million times better than The Social Network.

      • stella

        That’s an exaggeration. The Town is an excellent, solid flick but no comparable to TSN.

      • Misunderstood

        Sorry Carrie, I guess The Social Network didn’t have that feel good, satisfying conclusion of The Town. You are supposed to walk out of Social Network pissed.

    • Renegade

      I agree. The Town was better than Social Network. But TSN has a 98% on RT.

      • Nathan

        I also prefer The Town over The Social Network, but both are pretty great and deserving of multiple noms.

      • Hoosierlaw

        I tend to side with the TSN crowd, but I think Jeremy Renner’s performance in The Town is superior to any of the 3 potential BSA nominees from TSN.

      • Five

        I agree with you all here simply for that fact that I cared about bank robbers. I am still having a difficult time caring for any of the characters in TSN. But the writing in TSN was much better than The Town.

    • Evin

      I agree with Stella, it’s a great heist flick with an incredible performance from Renner, but it is no way comparable to The Social Network, TSN has the best dialog in a film in the past 10 years. Ten, twenty years down the road, people wont be talking about how The Town changed the way we as an audience look at films, that title belongs to the Social Network.

      • poop

        That title will actually belong to Inception

      • Five


        As I posted earlier I think what’s winning TSN over is the writing. But Inception – I mean c’mon, you can’t beat that.

  • Entertainment2u-Twitter

    I think THE SOCIAL NETWORK is a good film — a solid B+. However, surprised by all the 4 stars and As. It’s not perfect. Access my review via site link on my Twitter page.

  • Renegade

    How could you possibly put Hereafter over Black Swan? Hereafter got absolutely thrashed at TIFF while Black Swan was amazing.

    • easymouse

      No, only a few young bloggers didn’t like Hereafter. Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, Roger Ebert and most all other legit press loved it.

      • Mikey

        Actually Hereafter has had a very mixed reaction from critics. Check out it’s Rotten Tomatoes page.

        Its seen as very corny, whereas Black Swan is seen as a very clever, imaginative piece

  • brendan

    “True Grit” as a major player? I think not. The Academy likes the Coens, but an-old-school-sorta-jazzed-up Western isn’t going home with a single award on Oscar night. Most it can hope for is a handful of noms.

    • easymouse

      Dude, have you not seen the trailer???? It’s the Coens take on a classic American drama!

    • tahj

      The Coen brothers can do no wrong. They may not win any awards but they will get nominations. Especially with 10 best picture slots. And we love it when they do dark films. Their take on True Grit won’t be just like any old western!

  • gb

    if ryan gosling doesn’t get a best actor nomination for blue valentine there’s something wrong with the academy.

    • davey

      I saw Blue Valenitine at TIFF – he was OK…but nothing THAT special. I do, however like Gosling though (yeah Canada).

  • Nick B

    I thought The Social Network was a great film. David Fincher is one of my favorite directors, and he did an amazing job here. I’d say the best bets for nominations (and possible wins) are for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Jesse Eisenberg should also be nominated for Best Actor. He was brilliant. As for Supporting Actor, Andrew Garfield certainly is far more deserving of a nomination than the rest of the supporting players in the film. However, if Eisenberg and Garfield are nominated (and I hope they will be), I doubt either of them will win in their respective categories over the likes of some of the other actors mentioned in the article. I would also love to see Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch recognized for their score.
    As far as other potential Best Picture nominees besides the ones already mentioned, I think Black Swan has a shot at a nomination too. It’s a polarizing film, so maybe it won’t get a nod. But there are a lot of people who love it, and if those people are Academy members, it might just sneak in.

  • Yabby

    Just no Special F/X nomination please! While the Armie Hammer twin f/x worked, the horrible ‘cold breath’ cgi was AWFUL!!

  • There is no possible way to know this until the films come out or we get more advanced reviews in. There could be a film kind of surprise everybody or The Social Network could lose a whole lot of momentum, a’la Up in the Air from last year. We just don’t know.

  • m1

    Dave, I highly dare you to make a post about the Razzie contenders so far this year. I really want to trash The Last Song and Valentine’s Day, but only where it’s relevant.

  • MF

    How about a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Jeremy Renner’s performance in The Town?

    • Maureen

      I definitely see Jeremy getting nominated! He’d probably win but Geoffrey Rush would be his biggest competition.

  • dipshat

    The Social Network was extraordinary! All of the three leads deserve nods.

  • Jose

    Toy Story 3 for Best Director anyone?

    And I doubt that Robert Duvall and Javier Bardem have much of a shot of getting a best actor nomination. Bardem maybe but Duvall absolutely not.

    And why no mention of Black Swan? You made a story of all the raves it was receiving at TIFF but no mention of it here. It looks like a strong contendor for Picture, Director, Actress, Supp. Actress, Screenplay and a few other technical awards.

    As for The Town, with 10 slots why not a best picture nomination or at least a best supporting actor nomination for Renner?

    • Shane

      Cause Jeremy got his nod last year for his stupendous performance in The Hurt Locker. Not this time around.

      • Woot

        Oh so it’s not possible to get a nod the year after you were nominated/won? Tell that to Penelope Cruz and Tom Hanks and many others.

  • Elizabeth

    I saw “The Social Network” yesterday, and I was completely blown away my Jesse Einsberg’s performance. I think that Andrew Garfeild was fantastic, as well. (He’s my second favorite actor). But, I have to wonder, where’s Justin? I thought Justin Timberlake did a fantastic job, as well. It really showcased how much his acting has grown since “The Love Guru”
    I beleive all three deserve nods. (:

  • Shane

    The Social Network is the first flawless movie I have seen in years.
    I would love to see Aaron add an Oscar to his Emmy, Tony and Pulitzer!
    And the thought of Trent Reznor at the Oscars is waaaaay cool!!

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