That look of derision in Zuckerberg's face is for all of us, not just the Winklevii.

David Fincher

  • Born:  1962
  • Rank:  #87
  • Score:  520.75
  • Awards:  BAFTA  /  BFCA  /  Golden Globe  /  NYFC  /  LAFC  /  NSFC  /  BSFC  /  2 NBR  /  CFC
  • Nominations:  2 Oscars  /  2 DGA  /  2 BAFTA  /  2 BFCA  /  2 Golden Globes
  • Feature Films:  8
  • Best:  The Social Network
  • Worst:  Se7en

Top 5 Films:

  1. The Social Network  –  2010
  2. Zodiac  –  2007
  3. Fight Club  –  1999
  4. Panic Room  –  2002
  5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button  –  2008

Top 10 Best Director Finishes  (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 2010  –  1st  –  The Social Network

Before you get too excited about David Fincher appearing on this list in its 2.0 version, calm down.  When I made my list of Great Director / Actor Collaborations, it was suggested that Fincher and Pitt would someday make the list.  I had to greatly disagree.  For one thing, I don’t think that highly of Pitt as an actor.  Second, I think Pitt’s best work as an actor is mostly outside of his work with Fincher.  Third, I think the films Fincher has made with Pitt are actually the weaker ones in his work.  Fight Club approaches greatness, but more because of Edward Norton than because of Pitt.  Benjamin Button is seriously flawed.  And I hate Se7en, namely because of Pitt’s performance, which is like watching a vacuum on screen sucking up all of Freeman and Spacey’s charisma, leaving the film a complete blank.

So then, you might ask, how the hell did Fincher make the list?  Well, he is quite talented.  He debuted with Alien3, which was very seriously flawed, but he kept it interesting.  Then came Se7en, which I would prefer to forget while everyone else wants to get down and worship it.  Then was The Game, an okay exercise in standard genre.  But Fight Club was a revelation, followed by the magnificently under-rated Panic Room (because of female-unfriendly films like Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac and Social Network it is assumed that Fincher doesn’t really deal with women, which Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won’t help, but in Panic Room, he works marvelously with Jodie Foster and a Kirsten Stewart who could actually act).  It was five years before Fincher returned with Zodiac, but it was a film that showcased his best work so far.  Then came the over-rated Benjamin Button, but the flaws in it were those of the writing and Pitt’s performance – not Fincher’s directing.  Then came the truly amazing Social Network.  Finally making a truly great film, combined with the external accolades that Social Network received (even if it didn’t take home the Oscar) moved Fincher up almost 85 points over the last list and he was on the list.  We’ll see if Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can overcome the seriously misogynistic bent to keep him on the list.

The Social Network  –  #1 film of 2010

There comes a moment a considerable way into the film where viewers lose all sympathy for Mark Zuckerberg, provided they had any to begin with.  He has just been asked by the opposing counsel if he has his full attention and after replying “No,” Zuckerberg is asked whether he deserves it.  “You have part of my attention,” Zuckerberg replies.  “The minimum amount.”  But he doesn’t just end it there – he goes on with a truly cutting sentence that causes, I would say, almost everyone watching the film to pull back in disgust: “The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.”  It is a dark, arrogant, egotistical line, but said with such perfect precision by Jesse Eisenberg, an actor I never even remotely considered capable of giving such a performance, that it really made me sit up and take notice and focus on the film, the performance and the man himself, at least as he was given to us through the talents of Eisenberg, director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin.

I had no interest in this film.  I had mixed feelings on David Fincher.  I hadn’t been impressed at all with Jesse Eisenberg in Adventureland or The Squid and the Whale.  And most importantly, I don’t use Facebook and I didn’t give a shit about it.  I didn’t care about the creation, didn’t care about the creators, and really didn’t need to see a film about it.  Especially not a film connected in any way with Ben Mezzerich, whose books are so full of his made up thoughts that they should all be shelved in the Fiction section.

But then I actually started watching the film and reached the point where Eisenberg, as Zuckerberg, spits out those nasty lines.  And I suddenly became interested.  I remembered the line in Broadcast News where Holly Hunter is told “It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.” and she replies “No.  It’s awful.”  She doesn’t deny that she always believes she knows better or that she thinks she’s the smartest person in the room.  Some of it is a defense mechanism.  I was raised in a household where it was constantly stressed how smart we are, how much we can do.  So I walk into any situation knowing I’m the smartest one in the room, even if I’m not.  Just today, I had a seminar at work where we talked about personalities and I was one of the three people classified as Dominant.  For our motto (all four personality types had to come up with a motto), I came up with “Trust Us.  We’re Right.”

On the one hand, I can understand the furious anger that seizes the Winklevoss twins (or, as Zuckerberg so perfectly says, “the Winklevii”), when they just want to pound him into hamburger (“We can do that ourselves.” Tyler says when it is suggested they hire someone to thump him.  “I’m 6’5″, 220 and there’s two of me.”).  I can understand that they went to him with an idea and he took their idea and ran the other direction.  I can understand the frustration and pain in his friend Eduardo’s eyes (played so well by Andrew Garfield) when he looks at Zuckerberg across the courtroom because he has been so screwed after essentially supporting the company with his own money in the early days.  I don’t think I can understand Sean Parker, but Justin Timberlake (in possibly the best of the several strong supporting performances) does such a great job as playing him as a cowardly seductive prick that I don’t need to.

But I also began to understand Mark Zuckerberg, at least a little.  I can understand his disdain for rich guys who paid him to do something because they weren’t capable of doing it themselves.  I went to a rich high school where I was a lot smarter than all those pricks who were going to end up rich.  And I can understand why he would shut out his friend, who did keep them afloat, but is completely out of his depth in being the CFO of a fast rising major company.  Sometimes you have to make the decision that is smart and not necessarily the one that will do right by people.  But most of all I understand his anger at the world.  He has done something that no one else in the film is capable of.  Like he says: “You know, you really don’t need a forensics team to get to the bottom of this. If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”

So Fincher and Sorkin and Eisenberg do something that I’ll bet they never expected.  At the moment that so many people were turning away in disgust, fascinated by the man, but disgusted by the way he deals with the fellow members of the human race, I was fascinated with someone whose anger with the world was so palpable and so in tune with some of my own.  I still don’t give a shit about Facebook and don’t really care about Zuckerberg himself.  But as a character in the film, as a part of such an amazing film, I was completely captivated.