Before choosing between the only two films that have any chance of winning the Academy Award for Best Picture this time around, let's count down a ranking of the other eight nominees.
In case you didn't know or you tried to forget, there are 10 nominees for Best Picture, not five – a marketing gambit instituted last year.
10) Inception: The bombast of special effects and mind games pulls you in, but it's too cluttered, too much. For wholly realized brilliance from director Christopher Nolan, rent “Memento.”
9) The Kids Are All Right: That it's a lesbian marriage is not the point of this solid story of a loving family with tugging dynamics. Though the storytelling pitch is perfect, it's a somewhat ordinary film.
8) True Grit: A good Coen Brothers film is better than most other films. Though not their best, this tale of the old West is branded with their creative storytelling and character chemistry.
7) Black Swan: Such a creepy film, its surreal discomforts build on the creepiness in the real world of ballet. A nagging feeling tags along … that what's best about this film is that it succeeds at not blowing it.
6) Toy Story 3: With extra points because it's the third blockbuster animation in the franchise, this is an excellent integration of classic imagination and contemporary effect.
5) The Fighter: Yet another boxing movie, still, it packs a new punch with its center of gravity on lower-middle-class family loyalties.
4) Winter's Bone: Depressing as this corner of white-trash culture is, it's a life affirming story about a mature teen finding a way to grow in clay soil.
3) 127 Hours: The Academy-deprived director Danny Boyle overcame the cinematic limitations of a story with essentially one character, a guy who couldn't move from the rock slit where he was trapped. Inventive, tension-filled, effective throughout, it deserves being talked about as true contender for Best Picture attention.
2) The King's Speech: With its royal British aura stoking its advantages, this is the only film that could pinch gold away from “The Social Network.” The chemistry balances perfectly between the stammering King, the commoner who guides and befriends him and the King's wife. Director Tom Hooper, tending a formula of triumph over handicap, will win best director.
1) The Social Network: Probably the best film of the decade, this film strikes a contemporary tone that is taut and tense throughout, with unrelenting edge in the writing and acting. Other films stay as sharp, but what makes “The Social Network” so special is that it's all about a super-nerd and the rocket-fueled destiny of a software application. The Zuckerberg character is almost likable, a good boy, really, but you can't quite root for him. You just hope he's a better person than he seems to be. Though “The Social Network” is annoying enough to scare off some stodgy, Academy Awards, Best Picture voting, it should win. It's going to win.