2/20: 60 MINUTES

Way back in mid-December, working on my January ’11 JUF News column, I said: “As I write, several critics groups have already named The Social Network as their Top Pick for 2010, but I’m frankly not sure why–the depiction of Mark Zuckerberg as a pushy geek reaching for the next rung isn’t exactly groundbreaking…”

I only get ~ 750 words per column, so I had to be very brief, but, in fact, I was baffled by all the hype about The Social Network & very annoyed that my own group (Chicago Film Critics Assoc) was part of the parade.  I never felt the film had captured any “truth” whatsoever about “the real” Mark Zuckerberg, even though I knew very little about him the first time I saw it.  Later I read the Time magazine “Man of the Year” profile, a HaAretz piece about one of his Harvard buddies, & other things that convinced me I’d been right all along.  I don’t need to know much about “the real Mark Zuckerberg” to feel certain he didn’t create Facebook just so he could get a blow job from some groupie in a bathroom stall: feh!!!

Tonight, 60 Minutes aired Bob Simon’s report from Tunisia, and there it was: a big sign thanking Mark Zuckerberg (personally!) for creating the infrastructure that enabled them to mobilize for their January Revolution.  I don’t need to know much about “the real Mark Zuckerberg” to feel certain he create Facebook with just this kind of thing in mind.  And one week from tonight, Mark Zuckerberg won’t just be laughing all the way to the bank, he’ll be laughing at Hollywood too.

How can I be sure?  Tonight’s 60 Minutes also included Scott Pelley’s rapturous report on The King’s Speech.  Weeks ago, when people started asking me what this year’s Best Picture would be, I said unequivocally The King’s Speech.  And now, it’s clearly The King’s Speech & not The Social Network that has “Big Mo.” The Social Network has been overtaken by events–first in Tunisia & then in Egypt & now in Bahrain, Iran, Libya…

Now let me be clear here: I don’t think any of this year’s 5 major candidates deserve the accolade.  (Yes, technically there are TEN nominees, but the only ones really in contention are the 5 that also received Best Director nominations).  So OK, they’re all well-made films, but I didn’t believe any of them & none of them really moved me.  (If I ruled the world, I would give the Oscar to the mythic & deeply resonant Winter’s Bone.)  

So, no, I’m not happy that The King’s Speech will win.  (I consider it a huge vat of cinematic comfort food.)  But Anglophilia isn’t my niche, & I don’t feel required to weigh in when British royals & Aussie commoners are stereotyped for Hollywood convenience.  On February 28th (aka the morning after), I just plan to shrug my shoulders & move on.

One thing I’ve learned from Mel Brooks: We who laugh last, laugh best!

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