James Franco, “127 Hours” – FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: So James Franco will be front and center at the Academy Awards next year, no matter what happens with the nominations.

That’s because the Academy announced yesterday that the talented star will co-host the upcoming telecast with Anne Hathaway. It’s a clever move that could boost awareness with a coveted, younger demographic.

But we’re hoping Franco ends up in the spotlight early next year due to his acting prowess, and not thanks to his potential hosting skills. That’s because the actor gives one of the year’s most mesmerizing performances as Aron Ralston, a mountain climber stuck between a boulder and a canyon wall, in Danny Boyle’s arresting human drama “127 Hours.”

It’s a career-best turn from Franco, a brilliant and isolated performance made that much better because the he has no one to lean on in 90 percent of the movie outside of Boyle’s probing camera. Because “127 Hours” takes place in an impossibly remote crevice in Utah’s Blue John Canyon, the film rests on Franco’s ability to entrance us. To say he succeeds is an understatement.


In fact, some might argue Franco’s performance as Ralston is too effective. As you probably know by now, “127 Hours” builds to a scene where, in order to escape his life-threatening predicament, Ralston must sever his own arm with a dull blade.

When the scene arrives late in the picture, several people in multiple screenings around the globe have passed out. The scene is grisly, but not gruesome. In fact, one might defend that the reason Ralston decides to chop away at his pinned appendage is actually quite life-affirming and uplifting. To reveal more would be to spoil. But the patrons who hit the floor also are spoiling the end of Boyle’s film, which reaches transcendental highs as Franco’s Ralston realizes how strong his will to live has become.

Earlier this year, we were able to interview Franco and his director about the process that led to “127 Hours.” You can check out a portion of our interview below. It remains one of the best films we have seen in 2010, and Franco’s performance is an Oscar-worthy turn. I’m not sure how often an Oscar nominee has also served as host of the Academy Awards telecast, but I hope it happens in 2011.

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