Steven Soderberg’s Cultural Diet: ‘Social Network,’ ‘Man from U.N.C.L.E.’

Oscar-winning director releases an exhausting 12-month chronicle of what he read and saw — and only 5 Best Pic nominees made the cut

Between April 2010 and March 2011, director Steven Soderbergh watched about 100 movies, read around 50 books, saw numerous episodes of "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," completed several paintings and shot two movies.

Steven SoderberghAnd if you look at the evidence he's provided by releasing his detailed 12-month "cultural diet," it's probably safe to say that on his Oscar and DGA ballots, he opted for "The Social Network" (which he saw five times) over "The King's Speech" (which he didn't see at all).

The Oscar-winning director ("Traffic," "Erin Brockovich") provided the complete breakdown to radio host Kurt Andersen, whose Studio 360 Blog has the story, along with a link to Soderbergh's list.

And if it is in fact a complete chronicle of what he did, watched, read and consumed during a year in which he also shot "Haywire" and "Contagion," Soderbergh saw five of the Oscars' 10 Best Picture nominees: the multiple screenings of "The Social Network," plus "Inception," "True Grit," "The Fighter" and "Black Swan."

But the other five nominees – including winner "The King's Speech" – show up nowhere on his list. Granted, he could have seen "The Kids Are All Right" and "Winter's Bone" in January or February 2010, before his diary starts. But "King's Speech," "Toy Story 3" and "127 Hours" had yet to screen at that point, so he either never caught up with those films or he did see them but didn't want them on the list.

What is on the list includes the movies "All the President's Men," "In Cold Blood," "Jaws," "To Catch a Thief," "Alien," "Risky Business," the first two "Godfather" films and "The French Connection"; books ranging from Patti Smith's memoir "Just Kids" to David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest," and from Flaubert's "Sentimental Education" to Nicole Laporte's DreamWorks chronicle "The Men Who Would Be King"; and an array of short stories, plays and a month-long "Man from U.N.C.L.E" marathon.

Plus three viewings of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" between December 18 and December 24 – all of them, strangely, in black and white.

Particularly fruitful days included May 22, when he saw "The Social Network" twice and Fincher's "The Room" once; October 10, when he read Andre Agassi's "Open," reread "The Catcher in the Rye" and watched four episodes of "Mad Men"; November 27, when he indulged in a Coppola family marathon of Sofia's "Somewhere" and Francis' "Apocalypse Now"; and January 8, when the fare consisted of "Black Swan," "The Day of the Jackal" and three episodes of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Soderbergh has said he plans to retire after making two more movies. One shudders to think what his cultural intake will be once he ditches the day job.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


Looks like you’re enjoying reading
Keep reading by creating
a free account or logging in.