Apparently, we're supposed to take James Franco's role in Spring Breakers seriously. The film's distributor, A24, is placing a serious bid for the actor to receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination for playing Alien, a white rapper and gangster in St. Petersburg, Florida who gets mixed up with a group of armed, drugged up girls on spring break.
In case you haven't seen Spring Breakers or any Alien memes, just keep this in mind: he has grillz, a southern accent, and a propensity to shorten easily pronounceable words.
While Franco has received praise for his part in Harmony Korine's cult classic, I'm not sure it would be right for him receive an Oscar nomination. Not when he gave the best performance of his career as another marginal figure with a... unique style. I'm not talking about his role in Milk. No, I'm talking Pineapple Express.
Sure, it may sound like a stretch, but think about it. Franco is as good a character actor as he is a straight man, and he brought charm, humor, and a surprising vulnerability to his pot-dealing character. As Saul, he made what should have seemed like a totally creepy loser into a lovable icon capable of conveying earnest messages about loyalty, friendship, and tolerance.
I'm not in the minority on this – when the film first came out, Franco earned major kudos from Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers and a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical from the Golden Globes.
If James Franco does get an Oscar nomination for Spring Breakers, it'll be because of past work on films like Pineapple Express, not just his zany portrayal of Alien.