Hello, Junkies!  Ronnie Pudding here, once again participating in the state parole board’s work release program by taking a look at the front runners for the 83rd Academy Awards and writing about it on the internet.  Hard to believe 2010’s already been tossed in the dumpster like a dirty syringe but there it is, festering with HIV and broken dreams.  Or maybe that’s an actual dirty syringe; after all, Ronnie’s writing this from the dumpster behind Starbucks of Toluca Lake (not the worst dumpster I’ve spent the night in and hey, free WiFi). Seems like just yesterday I was comparing the Oscar prospects of films like Avatar, Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker. Of course that could be due to the fact that I spent the last eleven months in a paint-huffing-induced coma. Or perhaps because the resulting brain damage gave me the short term memory recall of Guy Pearce’s character in Memento. Or maybe it’s because… what was I writing about again? And what’s that tattoo on my scrotum? Oh yeah… the Oscars.

Unlike last year, there’s no one film gobbling up media attention like a paternal-love-deprived stripper at a daddy convention. And that’s probably a good thing. Because while it went on to become the highest grossing movie of all time, 2009’s Avatar has aged about as well as Maria Conchita Alonzo in a pair of Z Cavaricci pants. Luckily, there are a number of actual good films in contention for this year’s Best Picture shiny gold dude. Films such as The King’s Speech, Inception, 127 Hours Black Swan True Grit, Amputee Sluts 5 (a solid improvement over the franchise’s 4th installment) and the subject of this week’s article, The Social Network.

I was admittedly skeptical when I heard the news that a Facebook movie was in the works.  After all, the Friendster movie had spiraled into obscurity as quickly as it rose to prominence and the MySpace movie turned out to be nothing more than a garish display of tasteless narcissism, shameless self-promotion and sparkly unicorn GIFs. However my initial misgivings were put to rest when I actually saw the film. While David Fincher’s probably most known for his visual flourishes – and for a film taking place mostly in dorm rooms and board rooms here and there are plenty – his best work can be found in his loving handling of mentally deranged misanthropes such as Fight Club’s schizophrenic protagonist, the serial killers from Se7en and Zodiac and now perhaps the most misanthropic of them all, Facebook creator and Mark Zuckerberg. The slick editing capture the spirit of the internet age, zipping from scene to scene like someone scrolling through a lady friend’s Facebook gallery hoping for a drunken panty flash or nipple shot. But what really stood out was Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, which comprised a litany of instantly quotable lines rattled off at a machine gun clip not unlike a smarter version of Tarantino’s coked-up motor-mouthisms. For a film populated almost entirely by privileged Ivy League douchebags, The Social Network was utterly engaging.

But was it an Oscar winner? Let’s see where it stands in the in the major categories that drive the Academy’s voting.

RETARD STRENGTH (2.5/5): While Jesse Eisenberg had previously made a career of being the discount Michael Cera, with his portrayal of Facebook head honcho Mark Zuckerberg, he finally stepped out of George-Michael’s shadow and into his own spotlight. His Zuckerberg was deliciously complex; too villainous to be an anti-hero, too pathetic to be an actual villain.  He was misanthropic, misogynistic, sociopathic, and perhaps a bit Aspberger’s afflicted. But unfortunately, a flawed character does not a retard make.  As I explained last year: If you qualify for the Special Olympics, you’re retarded enough for an Oscar -- so long as you adhere to the “full retard” rule posited in Tropic Thunder. But while Zuckerberg’s personality flaws made him a more interesting character, they did not provide obstacles for him to overcome on his journey (which culminated in him becoming a multi-billionaire). If anything, they helped. A lot.

SOCIAL RELEVANCE (4/5): While the Prius-driving, Mac-using, plastic-rimmed-glasses set will remind you that they abandoned Facebook for Twitter (or was it Tumblr) like a thousand-million years ago, no amount of hipster elitism can hide the fact that Facebook is a genuine social phenomenon. It has transcended the ephemeral nature of most “killer apps” and for the moment at least, seems to be a permanent addition to our cultural zeitgeist. Want proof? Ask your mom. Not only does she know what Facebook is, she’s actually on it -- tagging you in embarrassing family photos and posting irony-oblivious comments under your snarky status updates. Eff yeah, Facebook’s relevant.

EPICOSITY (2/5): While The Social Network’s cinematography would make for an amazing episode of “Saved by the Bell,” it hardly contains the sort of epic grandiosity that leads to an easy Oscar win. This is not a knock on David Fincher or his cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth; The Social Network necessarily takes place in visually banal locales such as Ivy League dorms, generic office buildings and Palo Alto computer geek hovels. But while this certainly serves the film, if they were hoping to serve the tastes of Academy voters they should have the thrown in the occasional helicopter shot of the Grand Tetons, or a camel caravan crossing Saharan Tunisia.

UPLIFT (1/5): Are you a wealthy, silver-spoon-chewing douche-nozzle whose massive ego is only dwarfed by your gargantuan sense of entitlement? Do you have zero regard for personal relationships, viewing your friends as ultimately disposable stepping stones toward attaining the success that is your birthright? Well according to The Social Network, if you play your cards right, you might wind up being one of the wealthiest men in America before your 30th birthday.  This is probably pretty uplifting to the handful of you reading this from your Phillips-Exeter dorm rooms as you arbitrarily select which nannies you’ll frame for stealing the family silver over sprin break. But for the rest of us – we actual humans with actual souls -- it only serves as a grim reminder that success is all too often built on the knife-adorned backs of those foolish enough to trust their fellow man.

TOTAL POWER RANKING (2.375/5): Is The Social Network a great film? Certainly. Given the degree to which social networking has inexplicably affected (and infected) our daily lives it is the most relevant film of the year – perhaps even the decade -- and a best adapted screenplay trophy for Sorkin is virtually guaranteed.  But I don’t see it taking home a Best Picture Oscar on February 27th. Perhaps The Twitter Movie will be the internet film to finally pull that off.

Oh, and hey, don’t forget to “like” this article on Facebook! LOL! Fart.