Some early-fall hits suggest that social media have helped bring back the power of "word of mouth." A handful of movies have inhabited the box office Top Ten for weeks with tiny drop-offs while highly-publicized horror films and comedies open with flash business and fade out.

By far the best of the hits is "The Social Network" -- the most involving and complex look at the birth of an American business since "The Godfather Part II." It's an engrossing multiple-character study that's also a witty, lacerating, funny-sad depiction of runaway youthful creativity riding roughshod over any known concept of friendship and honor. Jesse Eisenberg is mesmerizing and elusive as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, but even Justin Timberlake, with relatively few scenes, pulls off a multifaceted picture of Zuckerberg's sometime mentor, Sean Parker -- a cool, feckless, quasi-artistic new-media entrepreneur. (Above you see Eisenberg, left, and Timberlake, plotting their new-media empire.) And Andrew Garfield (future "Spider-Man") and Rooney Mara (future Lisbeth Salander) are revelations as, respectively, Zuckerberg's former best friend and ex-girlfriend.

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"Red" also deserves to keep winning friends and influencing people. With energy and charm it demonstrates  that atypical and "mature" action stars like the divine Helen Mirren and the manly-elegant Brian Cox can entertain all quarters of the audience. They and John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman freshly mint engaging personalities as well as prove their proficiency in mayhem and gun-play.

And "Secretariat" provides the elating experience of putting audiences into the jockey's seat during several of the most exciting thoroughbred races of all time. It also expresses the bond between horse and horse-lover without crossing the line into sentimental or creepy anthropomorphism.

Have you seen all three of these movies? Which was our favorite? And have you added to the word of mouth that's kept them in the top ten by recommending them to your friends? I have to catch up myself to a film that just dropped out of the top ten -- Ben Affleck's "The Town."

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