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'Social Network' disappoints at Oscars

The controversial Facebook retelling won neither Best Picture nor Best Director, failures that overshadowed its awards in the Best Screenplay Adaptation and Best Original Score categories.

Columbia Pictures

Its fortunes didn't fare quite so well as the company it was based on: "The Social Network," a controversial recounting of the origins of Facebook, did not win the Oscar for Best Picture at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards tonight. As many had been expecting, the award went instead to historical drama "The King's Speech."

"The Social Network" also failed to win Best Director (that also went to "The King's Speech"), Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Actor, where Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg fell in favor of "King's Speech" lead actor Colin Firth. In the Best Actor category, Eisenberg had not been expected to win (in addition to Firth, he was up against the likes of Jeff Bridges and Javier Bardem), but director David Fincher had had a good shot at Best Director and the film was widely considered the front-runner for Best Picture until buzz about "The King's Speech" started to escalate.

The Fincher-directed film did, however, win Best Film Editing, Best Original Score for the music written by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and Best Screenplay Adaptation for Aaron Sorkin's acclaimed script.

The hype surrounding "The Social Network" had hit a fever pitch in the weeks before its release, and some critics say that it reached a point of overhype that ultimately made it a less palatable choice for the voters in the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Some pundits also said that alleged factual inaccuracies--Facebook has decried its portrayal of Zuckerberg as a mean-spirited, near-pathological manipulator of human social connections--may have hurt its chances with the Academy.

That said, "The King's Speech" was also hit by some claims of twisted history.

Facebook initially fought against the unauthorized "The Social Network" (and the book it was based on, Ben Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires"). But as its release date grew closer, the company changed its tune and said that while Facebook still considered the film "fiction," that it was an entertaining piece of cinema--Zuckerberg himself has said that he hoped it would inspire young people to pursue careers in computer science, and as a surprise prank appeared alongside Eisenberg in an episode of "Saturday Night Live."