There is not a great deal of correlation between the results of the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. While the two shows do typically look at the same crop of movies considered to be the best of their given year, their voter groups are entirely unique with zero crossover, and it's often that their ultimate choices don't sync up. Because of this, one probably shouldn't see James Franco's big win tonight in the Best Actor -- Comedy/Musical category as any kind of precognition of what to expect on Oscar night -- but if the Academy voters are smart, they will heavily consider the win, and start to look at Franco much more seriously for their equivalent category.
James Franco is a talented actor with a strong reputation in this industry, and it's noteworthy that the Oscars have paid attention to his skills before. While he's certainly no awards show host, his brilliant lead turn in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours did earn him a prodigious nomination that saw him in a group with the likes of Colin Firth, Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, and Jesse Eisenberg. Now it's Franco's time to be recognized again, this time for his work starring as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, and more than that, he needs to be looked at as a serious contender to take home the hardware.
Plain and simple, what James Franco delivers performance-wise in his latest directorial effort is nothing short of phenomenal. Tommy Wiseau is an insanely goofy, entirely enigmatic figure who could easily be portrayed incorrectly - turned into a living cartoon. Franco certainly doesn't shy away from this weirdness (it's crucial to the portrayal), but what makes it special is that he never ignores the heart of a wanna-be artist who just wants his chance to create. It's the difference of showing Wiseau as a character instead of a caricature, and Franco does a magical job. He utterly disappears into the part, disguised behind long hair and pale contacts, and shows the true power of his talent playing a man who is quite possibly the worst actor alive.
Impressive as that is alone, however, the Oscars famously reward actors who really go the extra mile in their performance, and that's something that they need to see in James Franco's work for The Disaster Artist. Not only does Franco star as the director in a movie about the making of a movie, but he also directed the movie about the making of a movie while staying in character. It's pretty risky to channel the man behind The Room while at the helm of a star-studded comedy, but that's what the actor-cum-director did, and he wound up generating a masterpiece (and not an ironic one).
As showcased tonight at the Golden Globes, James Franco will certainly have plenty of competition at this year's Academy Awards - and there will be half the number of nominations available. In addition to Franco, the Hollywood Foreign Press rightly identified some of the best turns of the year, including Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out, Tom Hanks in The Post, and Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread. Regardless of who the other nominees wind up being, though, one of those slots should go to Franco because he deserves it. Goofy as it may be, his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau was one of the most fascinating and engaging of 2017, and there aren't many other performances quite as bold as his.
The Academy Awards has a history of turning its nose up at comedy, not seeing it worthy of the same prestige as great dramas. This is a prejudice that the organization needs to look past in general, but it can start with The Disaster Artist. In it, James Franco puts on the best performance of what has been a really impressive carrier, and it deserves to be recognized. The Golden Globes did it tonight, and the Oscars should follow suit.