It captured the zeitgeist by telling the story of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, but The Social Network failed to win any major gongs on Sunday in a disappointing Oscars showing.
The movie, nominated for eight Oscars, did carry away three -- best adapted screenplay, original score and film editing -- but lost out to slow-burning British historical drama The King's Speech for the major honors.
The blockbuster internet flick, which has already made nearly 100 million dollars in the United States, didn't fare quite as badly as True Grit, which scored a round zero out of 10 nominations.
Expectations though weren't as high for the Western remake and The Social Network had flattered to deceive by trouncing its royal-themed rival and taking best picture at last month's Oscars warm-up, the Golden Globes.
The King's Speech won best film, director, actor and original screenplay, leaving the creators of The Social Network, and Jesse Eisenberg, critically acclaimed for his socially awkward portrayal of Zuckerberg, to lick their wounds.
Also starring singer Justin Timberlake as Napster co-founder Sean Parker, The Social Network begins in 2003 at Harvard, where a hyper-intelligent but nerdy Zuckerberg is experimenting with programming and website ideas.
Hacking in to academic databases, he and his male undergraduate friends are astonished when a site allowing users to compare pictures of female students generates so much traffic that it crashes the network.
At the same time he is invited by athletic rowing twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to help them on a website they are developing -- an invitation he accepts, while also continuing with his own version.
Those efforts produce "The Facebook," which takes off spectacularly -- even more so when "The" is cut from the name at the suggestion of Parker -- and Zuckerberg drops out of Harvard to pursue his dream in California.
The portrait the film offers of Zuckerberg is hardly flattering and relations between those behind The Social Network and the real Facebook founder were initially assumed to be chilly, at best. But over the months they appear to have worked out that the movie could be mutually beneficial.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin paid tribute to Zuckerberg at the Oscars ceremony, saying: "I think he's been an awfully good sport about this. I don't know if any of us want to have a movie made about when we were 19.
The other big losers on Oscars night were True Grit, a remake of the classic John Wayne Western which had the second most nominations after 12 for The King's Speech but left empty-handed.
127 Hours, about a mountain climber who becomes trapped under a boulder and has to cut off his own arm to survive, also failed to score despite harboring six nominations.
Lesbian parenting movie The Kids Are All Right, starring Annette Bening, managed none from four, as did Winter's Bone, the harrowing tale of an unflinching mountain girl trying to track down her drug-dealing father.