Yesterday morning Envelope/Gold Derby L.A. Times guy Tom O’Neil said that The Social Network “has a quality that gives it an edge in the current derby: It reflects the national zeitgeist during this Age of Facebook… Oscar voters want their best pictures to say something important about our times.”

In response to which Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet said that he likes the “cultural and cinematic card” (i.e., championing films that clearly reflect present-tense realities and conditions), as this would have earned The Dark Knight a nomination (and perhaps even a win) over such films as The Reader, Frost/Nixon and Milk. It would have earned WALL*E a nomination. It would define the Academy and the Oscars as progressive rather than regressive and stagnant.

“The past few years of Oscar predictions have become quite boring as the conversation leading up to the show pretty much dictated the winners,” he continues. “Could it be the same again as the Social Network crowd reaches a fevered pitch?” While The Social Network “speaks squarely to the heart of the Gen-Y crowd” and The King’s Speech is “the one film that’s right up the Academy’s alley,” the game will be affected this weekend by Social Network ticket sales ” “another bullet point for the conversation to focus on.”

However, says Brevet, “true cinematic advancement in the Best Picture field won’t come with a Social Network win. Something like Darren Aronofsky‘s ballet thriller Black Swan or Christopher Nolan‘s Inception would mark an actual step forward. Will Nolan get the requisite ‘he deserved it’ Oscar for Batman 3, diminishing its cultural and cinematic significance? And when will one of Aronofsky’s forward-thinking features get the recognition it deserves?

“Oscar pundits wanting to crank the dial need start pushing films and decisions that truly change the landscape.”