It’s no secret that Hollywood and technology go hand-in-hand. Whether it’s the advanced weapons of aliens from outer space in sci-fi movies of the 1950s or the advancements in special effects, both on and off-screen, technology is a key factor in film-making. Then, this thing called the Internet came along.
A lot of the time, the Internet has a dark side that means potential disaster for our protagonists. Remember 1983’s WarGames? A young Ferris Bueller almost starts WWIII after hacking into WOPR. And, of course, there’s the outrageous 1995 Sandra Bullock vehicle The Net where her identity is completely wiped clean. However, as more and more people accessed the Internet, Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon with more realistic plots and documentaries that reflect society’s 24/7 wired connection and explore everything from virtual reality, email, online chat rooms, blogging, and sites like Facebook and Twitter.
With that in mind, we decided to share the top 25 movies about social media. Are there are even 25 films about social media? After hours upon hours, we can firmly say absolutely. Get the popcorn ready and check out the list below to see for yourself.
1. The Social Network
What else would be at the top of the list? After all, The Social Network is arguably the most modern film of our generation. Starring Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the 2010 film may not exactly be a 100 percent accurate depiction of Facebook’s founding, but it does perfectly use Zuckerberg’s life as a metaphor about communication and alienation in the modern age. Even if fictionalized slightly, The Social Network has a great script by Aaron Sorkin, flawless directing by David Fincher, and a hypnotic score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
2. We Live in Public
We Live In Public profiles Internet pioneer Josh Harris, a former dot-com millionaire who lost everything during Web 2.0. Following his success in Silicon Valley, Harris turned his attention to controversial human experiments, such as tests which showed the effects of media and technology on individuals, which resulted in him losing his fortune. An extremely fascinating documentary that deserves a viewing.
Catfish begins in late 2007 as filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost felt a story in-progress while filming the life of Ariel’s brother, Nev. The filmmakers didn’t know that their project would lead some of the most unsettling months of their lives. This reality thriller has all the qualities of a great film, like love and betrayal. The 2010 film has since inspired a series a MTV.
4. Terms And Conditions May Apply
Terms And Conditions May Apply is a documentary that examines the real cost of ‘free’ services and vanishing online privacy. What do people really think they give up after clicking on ‘I Agree’ for companies like Facebook and Google? The answer may shock you.
5. #chicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on A Dictator
A fascinating journey of a teenage girl, who from her childhood bedroom in a Chicago suburb, uses social media to assist in the revolution in Syria. Armed with just Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and camera phones, she helps her social network in Damascus and Homs survive snipers and shelling. As the revolution against Syria’s dictator continues, the network has a decision to make: What’s a more effective way to fight – social media or AK-47s?
Startup.com is a gripping 2001 documentary that chronicles the dot-com start-up phenomenon, as well as, its downfall. The film tracks the e-commerce website govWorks (which was a service that allowed people to pay city fees through their Internet portal) and its founders Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman from 1999-2000 as the Internet bubble was bursting. Definitely worth viewing for anyone wanting to launch their own startup.
7. The Pirates of Silicon Valley
This was a 1999 made-for-TV movie starring Noah Wyle and Anthony Michael Hall as young tech entrepreneurs Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The Pirates of Silicon Valley isn’t necessarily a “classic,” but its honesty and brutal portrayal of how Jobs and Gates rose to dominance is worth viewing. How’s that related to social media? Well, just ask yourself this: Where are we now if not for Steve Jobs and Bill Gates? Probably not updating your Facebook status on your iPhone.
Tron is an absolute classic that showed and inspire, audiences in 1982 to the potential of technology. In case you haven’t seen it, Tron focuses on Jeff Bridges, who winds up living in a virtual world that he created.
Inside is a 2011 social film thriller brought by Intel in partnership with Toshiba. It was directed and written by D. J. Caruso and starred Emmy Rossum as Christina. The film was broken into several segments across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Viewers were then challenged to help Christina successfully survive her predicament. The first part of the series premiered on July 25, 2011 for anyone participating in the “real-time experience”. The whole film became available for online viewing on September 6, 2011.
10. Me and You and Everyone We Know
This 2005 romantic-comedy follows a group of intertwined characters, like a lonely shoe salesman and an eccentric performance artist, as they attempt to connect with others in this refreshing take on contemporary life.
Disconnect follows the lives of several characters struggling with the modern world: A lawyer attached to his cell phone, but who can’t find the time to communicate with his family; a couple who has their secrets exposed online; an ex-cop raising a mischievous son who cyber-bullies a classmate; and an ambitious journalist working on a career-making story regarding a teen that performs on an adult-only site.
12. #140 Characters: A Documentary About Twitter
Since Twitter has been dubbed the pulse of the planet, it only makes sense that a documentary would take a closer look at the impact of the social media service. This short doc, in particular, explores how Twitter has changed the lives of four ordinary people.
13. The Matrix
Most of us are familiar with the trippy story involving a computer hacker who learns from rebels the truth of his reality, along with his role in the war against its controllers. It pretty much changed special effects in film. And, it took virtual reality to a whole new level.
A high school student weaves the tragic history of his family, which involves terrorism, for his French-class assignment. However, after the invitation to an Internet audience, the family story stirs up controversy.
15. Julie & Julia
Instead of telling just Julia Child’s story and the start of her cooking profession, her story is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell and her 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book in this 2009 film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.
16. Hard Candy
This 2005 thriller focuses on a teenage girl (Ellen Page) who invades a man’s home (Patrick Wilson) because she suspects he is a pedophile after spending several weeks chatting together online. Ellen Page gives an outstanding performance in this roller-coaster ride of a film.
17. You’ve Got Mail
Although outdated by now, there was a time when everyone used AOL for their email, which is where the title of this 1998 film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romcom originated. You’ve Got Mail follows two business rivals who hate each other at the office, but fall in love over the internet.
This Filipino film recently made headlines during its debut at the Berlin Film Festival. The film follows David, who after breaking up with his lover before Christmas, turns to his mobile phone, iPad, and computer in order to stay connected with his 17-year-old ex Jonathan. After his phone calls, text messages and Skype calls go unanswered, David begins to form a horrible plan in his head while walking through the streets of Manila.
19. State of Play
Based on a British television series, State of Play follows a traditional journalist (Russell Crowe) and his inquiries into the suspicious death of a congressman’s (Ben Affleck) mistress. Not only does the film explore the privatization of American Homeland Security, it also discusses journalistic independence, traditional journalism vs. blogging, and the relationship between politicians and the press.
Did you ever wonder what the internet and constantly being connected is doing to teenagers? If so, the 2013 documentary InRealLife is a must-watch. It takes viewers from the bedrooms of British teenagers to the world of Silicon Valley, to find out what exactly the internet is doing to our children.
What’s extremely unique about this film is that it features 140 filmmakers located in 140 locations across the globe who were synchronized through Twitter to film 140 seconds at the same time. Filmmakers had to film whatever it is that connects them to their home and do it in only 140 seconds of continuous footage.
This intriguing 17-minute short debuted at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival and was created by Canadian film students Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg. Noah focuses on a high school senior communicating with his girlfriend on Facebook and Skype. However, things get interesting after Noah hacks into his girlfriend’s Facebook account. Oh yeah. The entire breakup occurs through a computer screen.
23. The Internship
While the latest pairing of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson isn’t as hysterical as Wedding Crashers, it is one long ad for Google. After watching this story about two salesmen who land themselves into a coveted internship at Google, we also want to compete for an internship at Google.
In this upcoming thriller from George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) and Black Swan screenwriter Mark Heyman, a businessman cheats on his fiancée with a woman from Facebook. Unfortunately, he discovers that his new crush is not at all what she seems to be.
25. Generation Social: A Documentary Film
This documentary from 2012 explores how the ingrained social nature in humans can drive cultural change through the view of some of the most important players in the Vancouver social media world.
What is your favorite movie about social media?
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!