12. The Social Network
score by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and his collaborator Atticus Ross both won Oscars for the downbeat, ambient soundscape they created for The Social Network. And while every aspect of David Fincher’s Silicon Valley docudrama works hard to sell the tragedy of Mark Zuckerberg’s cutthroat tech ascent, it’s Reznor and Ross’s music that really pins the point to the top of the newsfeed, so to speak. Exhibit A: the opening credits sequence, which features a mournful piano melody floating over an ominous bed of buzzing and humming. It’s the sound of a beehive—of the hive mentality that Facebook will inevitably codify, control, and monetize. But it’s also the sound of digital decay: the crumbling of vast Roman amphitheaters worth of useless metadata. Later in the film, when the shit starts to go down for real, Reznor turns up the sequencer amps and does what he does best, i.e. crush skulls with some pulverizing EDM beats. But because this is (basically) Nine Inch Nails, the riffs are less an expression of power than a panicked externalization of inner torment. And let’s not forget Reznor’s mid-film interpretation of Wagner’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Thumbs up, like, and share.