In The Fighter, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is an aspiring boxer with a close-knit family - his mother (nominee Melissa Leo) is a pushy, posessive manager and his half-brother Dicky (nominee Christian Bale) is his trainer. Dicky's crack addiction is an open secret and its effects ripple out to create trouble for Micky's family and career. All the negative influences in his life hold Micky back from his true potential, but when he cuts them loose and starts winning, his victories are hollow and, until a balance is found, he is kept from being a true champion.
In The Social Network, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (nominee Jesse Eisenberg) invents Facebook and brings his friends on board for the ride. As the project grows and expands, reaching the boundaries of his grasp, he befriends Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), a controversial figure in internet history for his own groundbreaking invention, Napster. Sean takes Mark under his wing, instilling his cutthroat instincts and paranoia in the young programmer. Sean introduces Mark to a life of excess while insinuating himself into the company and insulating Mark from the friends who first helped him succeed. As Facebook grows stronger, the friendships fall apart, making all the victories hollow. What was intended as a way for people to be more connected on a personal level eventually became a wedge between friends and partners.