Why ‘The Social Network’ Should Win Best Screenplay Oscar, and Then Some

People have said a lot of things about The Social Network. That it’s sexist, that it’s not true to the real story, that it makes Mark Zuckerberg out to be someone he’s not, etc. But the one thing no one really can say is that it’s bad. It is widely accepted as a brilliant film directed by David Fincher, starting with a one-of-a-kind script by Aaron Sorkin that seems to remind us of the power a screenplay can and should have. Even the actors are in awe of it to this day, rarely ever going an interview without mentioning how great the script was to begin with.

“Dialogue” is the buzz word you hear most often when there’s talk of Sorkin’s screenplay. This praise followed shortly after we watched the film and witnessed these young actors rattling off witty conversations we all wished we could come up with in real life. (Especially the famous “9 pages of dialogue” opening scene.) Then they released the PDF of the screenplay online just before the Oscars (indeed, it’s up for “Best Adapted Screenplay”), and now all that’s left to do is sit back and marvel. Because it’s one thing to hear good dialogue; it’s another to get straight-up schooled by a master.

While reading, I was only at page 28 when I realized that it’s not Sorkin’s style alone that sets it apart as an amazing script. What struck me is that he doesn’t just write, he navigates – and flawlessly at that. It is loud and clear how the film needs to play out, how the actors need to deliver even a mere one or two words, when the camera is supposed to move, where exactly the editor is supposed to cut, but in an advanced kind of way that is more precise and frantic than most writers could envision – however, it remains a smooth ride throughout nonetheless.

Sorkin may sound self-deprecating in interviews, but the writing knows better: Within its pages, Sorkin is like an assured, knowledgeable tour guide who can talk while walking backwards without tripping once. Not even once.

If the whole Social Network package is a well-oiled machine, then the script is the machine, with everything else happening to fall into place as “the oil,” helping it work as it was meant to work. In the end, everything was delivered the way it was intended. There’s no second-guessing or doubts between the pages, and it’s as effortlessly captivating of a read as it is onscreen. Sorkin’s writing voice is as confident as his main characters, and the result? The Social Network as a complete film struts in such a way that you can’t blame it. This should not only win the Academy Award this year, it should set the standard for the rest of the film industry.

As for the best part? This did it for me:

2010 Over, On to 2011

I received an e-mail from WordPress this morning with this blog’s 2010 review. In the e-mail, it says:

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,400 times in 2010. That’s about 20 full 747s.

Sure, 8,400 views isn’t groundbreaking by any blogger means, but it’s still good news to me. I just want to give a big THANK YOU to everyone who has visited my blog in 2010 – whether it be once or twice, monthly, daily or weekly. Your readership means a lot to me, and your encouraging and/or challenging comments and discussions inspire me to keep writing.

My Cultural Voice-Over blog is officially more than a year old, with my first post being a huge rant on Roman Polanski on October 5, 2009. While this blog has become a beneficial platform for me, I recognize that I write sporadically, sometimes with a mere 2 posts per month. Some months it’s because I only want to post when I feel especially inspired by something; other months it’s because of lack of time and energy.

I started this blog when I was recently graduated and unemployed, and my creativity was fueled and driven on a more regular basis. I am thankful that I am now employed full-time, of course, but it has definitely led to a significant decrease in the amount of writing I do. I am constantly thinking of things to share my thoughts on, and even jotting down notes and sentences, but I unfortunately do not always have the energy to put them on the blog. Or anywhere, for that matter.

While it has been discouraging (and while I am not a person to make New Year’s resolutions), I am looking forward to 2011 being a new journey, personally and creatively. We’ll have to see what it brings, but until then, I am once again very grateful for anyone still reading or just starting to read; for the friends and family who tell me in person that they enjoy my blog; for the sheer knowledge that others believe in me. While it has not been true consistently in the past, I’m hoping 2011 will be the year that I start to truly believe in myself.

Many thanks,

Colleen

‘Who Wrote That?’ A Writer’s Reminder in Antonioni’s ‘La Notte’

I first saw Michelangelo Antonioni’s film La Notte my senior year of high school, at an Italian restaurant in Dallas. They were playing it on mute on two small TVs at the bar, but with the subtitles on. Acting as a sort of last addition of a “trilogy” (following L’avventura and L’eclisse), La Notte is about a middle-aged married couple – Giovanni, a successful writer, and his wife, Lidia – who go to visit their dying friend. Along this journey, they simultaneously try to escape and mend their bored, broken marriage. The final scene is what stands out most in my memory, what really caught my attention. After a night of partying and flirting with other people, Giovanni and Lidia take a walk. They struggle to come to terms with the state of their relationship and how they feel for one another. Lidia takes out an old love letter from her purse and reads it aloud:

“When I awoke this morning, you were still asleep. As I awoke I heard your gentle breathing. I saw your closed eyes beneath wisps of stray hair and I was deeply moved. I wanted to cry out, to wake you, but you slept so deeply, so soundly. In the half light your skin glowed with life so warm and sweet. I wanted to kiss it, but I was afraid to wake you. I was afraid of you awake in my arms again. Instead, I wanted something no one could take from me, mine alone…this eternal image of you. Beyond your face I saw a pure, beautiful vision showing us in the perspective of my whole life…all the years to come, even all the years past. That was the most miraculous thing: to feel for the first time that you had always been mine, that this night would go on forever, united with your warmth, your thought, your will. At that moment I realized how much I loved you, Lidia. I wept with the intensity of the emotion, for I felt that this must never end, we would remain like this forever, not only close, but belonging to each other in a way that nothing ever destroy, except the apathy of habit, the only threat. Then you wakened and, smiling you put your arms around me, kissed me, and I felt there was nothing to fear. We would always be as we were at that moment, bound by stronger ties than time and habit.”

Giovanni sits and listens thoughtfully, and when she finishes reading, he asks: “Who wrote that?” She replies after a moment, “You did.”

I think about this scene whenever I’m having a particularly long period of writer’s block or self-doubt. Giovanni did not remember writing such a poetically beautiful and heartfelt letter to Lidia, nor did he remember that he had ever loved her in such a way. When he asks, “Who wrote that?”, to me it symbolizes both a man who’s lost his way in his marriage, as well as a writer who’s lost his passion. But Lidia read the letter aloud and reminded him. And like Giovanni, I am reminded of deep-rooted sentiments and the capabilities of a past self, and I start to believe that maybe this lapse was only temporary, that it can all be restored once again.