Contender: ‘The Social Network’

Pic scored instant Oscar speculation

Few films launch from the gate with the instant Oscar speculation that “The Social Network” did. Its combination of wit, psychological smarts, acting verve, behind-the-scenes marquee power and of-the-moment relevance almost ensures Academy eyes will be considering it for plenty of top awards, including picture. Throw in overwhelming critical praise and a box office haul nearing $100 million, and the only question may be who gets left out come nomination time.

Director David Fincher’s meticulous weaving of multiple viewpoints — plus his visual alacrity and suspense chops — seem destined to return him to the nomination circle, while Aaron Sorkin (adapting the non-fiction book “The Accidental Billionaires”) brought a “Network”-style mix of social satire and insider business drama to the proceedings.

In front of the camera, some first-time Oscar noms appear on tap: Potential lead actor contender Jesse Eisenberg’s crisp, calculating take on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been enthusiastic audience sport since the film’s release, while Andrew Garfield’s sensitive, beleaguered Eduardo Saverin is a good bet for a supporting actor nod. A certain backlash to such an obvious frontrunner seems inevitable, although the film’s early October release also gives it plenty of time to rebound, too, once other Oscar contenders make their presence felt.

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