The last time I seriously contemplated the idea of Russian tanks invading a neighboring country and imposing autocratic rule was on 1.25.11, or a little more than 11 years ago. On that day the 2010 Oscar nominations were announced, the most ominous among them being the 12 nominations gathered by Tom Hooper‘s The King’s Speech — an all-but-certain indicator that this British period drama, a favorite among the old Academy farts, would win the Best Picture Oscar.
I was thinking, you see, about Vaclavske Namesti (Wenceslas Square) in August 1968. The image in my head was of Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger and other supporters of The King’s Speech, standing atop Soviet tanks as they rumbled into Prague (“Wait, wait…what happened?”).
In one fell swoop the hopes of all Social Network supporters were dashed. Many were shocked; some were tear-struck.
The Social Network‘s eight nominations (including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor) vs. 12 nominations for The King’s Speech — forget it, game over, the bad guys had won. Because Academy and guild schmoes didn’t relate to the Fincher film but felt an emotional rapport with late 1930s England and Colin Firth‘s performance as King George.
David Fincher‘s brilliant, razor-sharp drama — a story about ruthless conflict in the building of Mark Zuckerberg‘s Facebook empire — had enjoyed a kind of “Prague spring” reception since debuting at the 2010 New York Film Festival. It was seriously admired by critics and the cool kidz. and by anyone who was invested in the emerging cyber world and where things were going — but the Oscar nominations strongly suggested it was going to lose the Big Prize. And that, to me, was shattering.
The day before the announcement Nate Silver, the FiveThirtyEight creator who had been way in front of most political statisticians during the 2008 presidential election, analyzed the Best Picture Oscar race for Melena Ryzik‘s Carpetbagger column, and his view was that The Social Network would most likely prevail.
The other 2010 “good guy” movie that David O. Russell‘s The Fighter, which received seven Oscar noms and wound up winning two — Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo).