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Academy Likes ‘Social Network,’ But — ‘Too Many A—holes’ to Win?

David Fincher’s Best Picture contender goes over well at its official AMPAS screening … though one member declares, “it won’t win”

“The Social Network” solidified its credentials as a Best Picture nominee in its key unveiling in front of an audience of Academy members at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater this weekend.

But did it do enough to justify being considered the frontrunner for a win?

'Social Network' posterOpinions are divided on that question after the film had its official Academy screening Saturday at the 1,000-seat Goldwyn, located in AMPAS’s Beverly Hills headquarters.

I spoke to a couple of Academy members in attendance, both of whom of course insisted on anonymity. (The Academy does not like its members talking about these screenings, and hates it when people write about them.)

One said that the screening drew the biggest crowd of the year, an estimated 800 to 900 people; that the film played to “very positive response,” with plenty of laughter during the screening and considerable applause at the end of the film and then again at the end of the credits.

“Lots of people were hanging out in the lobby yakking about the movie for at least half an hour afterwards, which you don’t always see,” the member said.

But another member at the screening described the Goldwyn as three-quarters full, which would be about 750 people, and said that some viewers did get up during the credits to leave, which is something of a breach of etiquette at AMPAS screenings.

This member’s conclusion: “Strong reaction, but it won’t win Best Picture. Just too cold. Way too cold.” The member compared “The Social Network” to a Quentin Tarantino movie: sold writing and performances, but “too many a—holes” to win.

(The first member, by the way, does have a tie to “The Social Network.” The second member does not, but is involved with films that could conceivably be competing against it.)

If the reaction sounds inconclusive, that’s hardly surprising. Last Thursday, when Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil asked a batch of Oscar pundits to predict what we thought would happen on Saturday night, my contribution ended this way:  

“[B]ecause it ends on a pretty somber, bittersweet note, I don't think we're going to hear about tremendous applause or a rapturous reaction at the Goldwyn. It's a satisfying, serious, go-home-and-think-about-it movie, so this might be a case where the Academy screening reaction won't really tell us all that much.”