Who's In It: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Rooney Mara, John Getz, Rashida Jones
The Basics: It starts with getting dumped. In fact, it starts with what may be the funniest, fast-talkingest, character-establishingest breakup scene ever. But the point is that it starts with getting dumped. "Mark Zuckerberg" (I'm putting his name in quotes because this may be a true story but it's also several other people's ideas of true, complete with streamlined, real-life-ignoring narrative peaks and valleys and composite characters) is an ego-bruised Harvard man who takes to his LiveJournal to drunk-post about the lady he lost. Then he cruelly creates a "Hot or Not" site based on her and all the other women of Harvard. And then he creates Facebook, zooms past the competition, sells out his best friend, makes a billion dollars, gets sued and winds up dating his other best friend: his laptop. So the moral is that it's the socially awkward rage-penis that climbs the ladder to era-defining success. Okay, that didn't make a lot of sense but you know what I mean.
What's The Deal: It's either a biopic or a loose interpretation of real events amped up to look like a biopic, but that's not really the point. It's really a somewhat familiar story about the ascent to power, just a different sort of power than the one that a place like Harvard could even see coming. Weirder, it was a situation that wrote new rules and felt democratic even if it was the work of guy who knew only how to get his own way, a social network invented by a misanthropic lone wolf. It's part Citizen Kane, part Goodfellas, part Revenge of the Nerds and the most entertaining film you never knew you would want to see. If I had a buck for every person I've read or heard say, "Why would I want to watch a movie about Facebook?" I'd be a billionaire myself.
Hate Life Lessons? Then This Is Your Movie: Nothing makes me more annoyed in a film than when the lead character is an unsympathetic jerk and the filmmaker tries to make you love him by showing you his inner pain. Another thing I hate is comeuppances for the unsympathetic jerks. So thanks, David Fincher, for not rolling out any of that. This guy stays prickly, brilliant and unpleasant, while the movie demands that you admire his nerve, ambition and throat-slitting snappy answers to stupid questions. And the only person who gets an anti-reward in the whole film is the guy who had one too many feelings and didn't want to take risks.
Tech-gasm 2010: It's a David Fincher film so that means there's all sorts of green-screen seamlessness going on, from the too perfectly composed scenes of men rowing crew to the movie's coolest trick, a set of identical twins played by one actor, Armie Hammer. Yes, the great-grandson of that Armand Hammer. At one point Eisenberg is even seen wearing a T-shirt with the baking soda logo on it. Watch for it.