Saturday, January 22, 2011

AAN: For Your Consideration-The actors of The Social Network

It's not like The Social Network needs any more awards, because, quite frankly, it has this whole awards season won. While most people keep going on about how great the Aaron Sorkin script is or what a great transformation this is for Jesse Eisenberg, many seem to forget the other actors and actresses in this movie. Without their stellar, polished performances obviously made perfect by David Fincher's 50 take regime, this movie wouldn't have been nearly the Citizen Kane comparison it has become. Let's have a look at the people who have a sizeable part in this film:

Jesse Eisenberg has the lead in this film, and to the surprise of many sceptics, he does a star job which has seen him become a front runner in the awards race. Before this movie had come out, Jesse shot to fame in such films as Adventureland and Zombieland, but was quickly degraded to being another Michael Cera. As soon as The Social Network came out, people soon started to sing his praises. The thing is, you can't read too much into his version of Mark Zuckerberg, because we can't quite believe that someone could really be that deadpan. It's just the way that Jesse wraps himself around Sorkin's dialogue, where he finds himself having a million conversations rolled into one and subtly dragging people down to his level. If you dare try and look into his eyes, it's like nothing is happening, even though you can feel thoughts bouncing around his brain at a million miles an hour. It's a rare trait that Jesse possesses, which could see him nabbing the Oscar (that's if he can get past Colin Firth, which probably won't happen). The bad thing about his performance is that it outshines everyone, and all the other great performances within the movie are often forgotten.

Andrew Garfield serves as the most emotional part of the film, which seems to be working in his favour when it comes to the awards. His supporting performance is by no means the best, as there isn't really a lot for him to chew on, but he has made use of this opportunity to let his star shine. Whenever he's on screen, he seems to light it up, playing the Phoenix dreamer who is often misunderstood and forgotten. Andrew does a remarkable job, and once the second half unravels we see Eduardo Saverin becoming a main character, as we see all the bad things about Zuckerberg coming straight from his characters perspective. It’s a little strange that Andrew is getting so much attention for this role particularly, when he also starred in Never Let Me Go, which has been surprisingly missing from awards circuits. Though he hasn’t got the SAG award nomination to back him up, I’d be very surprised if he didn’t get nominated.

Thought Jesse had it tough when he had to play a cynical billionaire instead of being an awkward lovesick puppy? Well nothing could beat the difficulty Armie Hammer must have faced when he was chosen to play not one, but two characters. Instead of getting a set of twins to play Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, David Fincher opted to get two very different looking people to play the two, and then covered up Josh Pence’s face with Armie’s. The best thing about this is the fact that Armie is so great at playing both of them and pulls of the twin thing entirely. While they are identical and do everything exactly the same, you can always feel the difference in Armie’s performance. It’s a little scary watching the characters interact sometimes. I’m surprised that more people haven’t picked up on his performances. He plays the power-hungry, always a winner, and slightly arrogant pretty boy perfectly, times two.

Heads were turned and eyes were rolled when people found out that this movie starred Justin Timberlake. Sure, he had been in some decent movies, but he’ll always be the little teen idol from N*sync. I think you’ll agree, Timberlake was pretty damn good as Sean Parker. He does some great characterization, especially when there are all those hints of Sean’s possible paranoia. If we were to see another film about Sean, then it could be possible that he clearly has some mental issues. He’s like that kid who isn’t really that cool until he gets a lot of confidence, which is by no means natural. Even though Mark can’t see it, but the audience sees that Sean is a bit of a dodgy dealer and is not to be messed with. He always has to be at the centre of everything, and if anything, Sean is really the villain of this story. That is a point that Timberlake plays with by making the character very cocky. Once you confront him or put him down in any way, he falls apart, as seen in the moment where Eduardo goes to punch him.

Max Minghella, who plays the Winklevoss’s friend Divya Narendra, is often the most forgotten actor in this movie. Sure, Narendra isn’t the biggest figure in this movie, as he is often over shadowed by his twin friends, but without Narendra, there wouldn’t have been any Winklevoss’s. He’s the voice of reason for them, and is also the brain box who figures out their ideas and puts them into action. It goes without saying; he has one of the best lines in the film: “No, I wanna hire the Sopranos to beat the shit out of him with a hammer!” (which was outshone by Tyler’s line “I’m 6’5”, 220 points, and there’s two of me.”). His performance isn’t exactly awards worthy, but he doesn’t deserve being forgotten. After all, he managed to get nominated with everyone else for the ‘Best Acting Ensemble’ award at the Screen Actors Guild, ahead of the following actors.

One of the scenes most associated with The Social Network is its brilliant opening scene where we see Mark in conversation with his then girlfriend Erica Albright. This is barely what you would call a one man show from Eisenberg. Rooney Mara is perfect in this scene. As she is perfect in her brief second scene and her third scene, where she pushes Mark away in front of all her friends. She seems to be the only one in this movie who can take a beating from Mark’s words and retaliate quickly, leaving Mark lost for words (which is something that doesn’t happen often in the film). I love her power and soul in this movie so much that I rank her as one of my favourite supporting performances in 2010 and also one of the better performances within this film. Sadly, she didn’t make the cut for the ‘Best Ensemble’ award at the Screen Actors Guild, nor is she likely to get any other nominations, but I can see heaps coming her way once The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes out. Just you wait and see.

If people were paying attention to this film enough back in the early days, then their heads probably turned and their eyes would have rolled when they heard that Brenda Song was another Disney star joining the film. Brenda plays Eduardo’s psychotic girlfriend Christy Lee, who is maybe a little too clingy, a little too questionable and a little too overbearing, that she could have driven Eduardo to insanity if he didn’t abort ship. This is a perfect role for Brenda to break out of the Disney curse with, but she didn’t quite do that, as she is still tied to many Disney projects. She was great in the role, even if she was trying a little too hard to be really scary.

Another performance which is all too forgotten is Rashida Jones’ turn as Marylin Delpy, one of the people sitting in on the court cases which Mark found himself in. It’s a little silly that she is forgotten, because she has the last stab in this movie, with the line “You’re not an asshole, Mark. You’re just trying so hard to be.” Like Max Minghella, Rashida’s performance is by no means awards worthy, but she proves that she can carry her background role with the necessary means. Marylin may be the only one who believes in Mark in the end, which makes the decision to love or loathe him very hard.

Other performances within the film that should be recognized are: Joseph Mazzello as Dustin Moskovitz, Denise Grayson as Gretchen, and John Getz as Sy.


  1. Really good analysis...I absolutely loved Jesse in the film, my heart breaks for him in the 0.03% scene. Having said that, I agree on Andrew lighting up the screen...something about those damn well-fitted suits play a part in it. And the Winklevii were brilliant, as was Rooney Mara as Erica.

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