Oscar Watch: National Board of Review taps “The Social Network”

Our first non-indie-specific awards have been given by the National Board of Review. Announced Thursday, the board has shown favor to David Fincher’s “The Social Network.” The film received four awards: Best Film, Best Director (Fincher), Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin). As if we didn’t have an inkling before, this pretty much solidifies the film as a contender in most of these categories at the Oscars.

Among some of the other notable wins, “The Town” took home a Best Ensemble Cast award, “Waiting for Superman” was named the Best Documentary and not surprisingly, “Toy Story 3” ran away with Best Animated Feature.

To give you some background on the National Board of Review, the members are made up of a diverse group from academics and professionals to students. The organization tends to favor more the popular/entertainment-driven choices when it comes to handing out awards. For example, Clint Eastwood’s yearly entry rates considerably higher with the board: “Hereafter” was listed fourth on its list after “Network” and in the last 10 years, two of his films have won: “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Mystic River.” (“Million Dollar Baby,” strangely, lost to “Finding Neverland”).

Young up-and-comers have always been given an edge too. Eisenberg won this year and last year Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”) and Carey Mulligan (“An Education”) were the winners, both of whom went on to receive Oscar nominations, so things are looking up for Eisenberg.

In the other acting categories this year, Christian Bale won for “The Fighter,” and his name has come up a lot for an Oscar, and not surprisingly considering how transformative his performance looks in the trailers alone. As for the ladies, the NBR honored Lesley Manville (“Another Year”) as Best Actress and Jacki Weaver (“Animal Kingdom”) as Best Supporting Actress, which considering how little I know about either film, should definitely put a spotlight on what I’m sure must be great performances.

But back to Best Film. What kind of a shot does “The Social Network” have? Take a look at the last ten years and only two films have gone on to win Best Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country for Old Men.” However, only once back in 2000 with “Quills” did the winner not receive a nomination — and that was mostly in the years of five nominees. So, consider “The Social Network” a lock for Best Picture recognition, which it surely deserves.

Okay, so what does that mean for Fincher, Eisenberg and Sorkin’s chances? Fincher actually received the award for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” but understandably lost the Oscar to Danny Boyle in the great year that 2008 was for movies. The NBR has a shaky track record at best in this category — only four of the previous ten directors to win were even nominated for Oscars, although three of them were also winners. Fincher, of course, was number four. History could well repeat itself for the terrific director.

Best Actor has a slightly better track record. All but three of the past ten winners have received Oscar nominations and four of them (the winners from 2003-2006), won the big prize. Of the three misfires, one was of course Clint Eastwood, for “Gran Torino.”

Aaron Sorkin’s adapted screenplay will fair much the same: seven of the last ten have received nominations (8/11 if you include the tie between Eric Roth and Simon Beaufoy two years ago), but just three have won the prize: “Slumdog Millionaire,” “No Country for Old Men” and “Sideways.”

“The Social Network” feels like the right movie to favor given the National Board of Review’s track record. I certainly expect it to be recognized by the Academy, but it’s tough to see it taking home more than a couple statuettes come Feb. 27.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment