James Franco’s movies are just a small part of this actor’s brilliance as a person. He is known to be a math whiz, a pilot, a writer, and an artist, but the bulk of his achievements come from his acting career. The actor was born James Edward Franco to Betsy Verne and Douglas Franco on the 19th of April, 1978. He is the first child of the three children his parents had – his younger brothers, Tom and David are also actors.
He spent his childhood in Palo Alto, California where he was born and raised in a liberal and academic way and was constantly encouraged to get good grades. As a teenager, the actor ran the risk of being thrown into a juvenile home for a misdemeanor but was pardoned by the judge who felt he deserved another opportunity at getting his acts right.
James Franco‘s acting career began after he dropped out of the University of California where he had been studying English; which drew the ire of his parents who always favored scholarly pursuits. His training as an actor began at the Playhouse West and it ran for fifteen months. To support himself while at it, Franco worked at a McDonald’s outlet and practiced the skill of switching accents on customers.
The handsome actor has had a long career in acting which has rolled on for more than two decades. In this time, he has given performances that have consolidated his reputation as one of Hollywood’s finest actors while at the same time, some other works have left much to be desired of that reputation. Let’s have a look at the ranking of the best James Franco movies from the best to the worst.
James Franco Movies List Ranked From Best to Worst
127 Hours (2010)
In 2003, during his canyoneering in the Bluejohn Canyon, a suspended boulder fell and trapped Aron Ralston between the wall of a canyon and the boulder. For five days he was trapped, rationing his food and water, and when the water ran out, he drank his own urine.
The movie chronicles the experience of Aron Ralston played by Franco whose performance was raw and brought to life the feelings of resignation that clings to a man who knows he is about to die. The film has been applauded for its authenticity and on Rotten Tomatoes it got a score of 93%. For his performance, Franco was nominated for a number of awards including a Golden Globe.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
James Franco directed and produced this film which has been described as a masterpiece. It received a standing ovation the first time it was screened. The film is based on the book, The Disaster Artist which is the non-fictional narration of the events that took place on the set of one of the worst films in the history of Hollywood, The Room. James Franco played Tommy Wiseau, the producer, writer, and director of The Room who also cast himself in the lead role in the film.
In the supporting roles, Franco cast his brother, Dave Franco and close friend, Seth Rogen. The film under Franco’s directing was able to tow the lines of comedy while showing the desperation and passion that drives the film making industry. But his directing is not the only part of this film that received praise, for his portrayal of Wiseau, he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
James Dean (2001)
In another portrayal of a real-life person, James Franco played the actor, James Dean. The film chronicles the life of James Dean – from his childhood to his eventual shocking death. His father’s disinterest in his life was the cause of major concern for Dean and it affected the relationships he had with other people, all of which James Franco was able to portray artfully. James Dean is a television film and for his performance, he won the 2002 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a television film, this was his first Golden Globe and for the actor who was still young in the film industry at the time, his performance in this film was an announcement of his talent.
Spring Breakers (2012)
This film tells the story of four college girls who spend their spring break in a wild and dangerous way. At the helm of events in this film is Alien, played by James Franco who leads a crime-filled life, fueled by drugs and sex. Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine were in supporting roles and of the four, two of them are the wilder pair of the bunch.
The film has a rating of 66% on Rotten Tomatoes and on its budget of $5 million it was able to make $31 million. Controversies plagued the film when it was released especially with feminists, who were divided along two opposing lines. Some felt that the film objectified women while the other half believed the film’s writer empowered its female characters. Like most of this actor’s film, it was no stranger to the awards of that year.
The original Spiderman trilogy starring Tobey Maguire (as Peter Parker) set the precedent for the superhero/comic films of the 2000s. This film was one of James Franco earliest films and he played the role of Harry Osborn, a best-friend-turned-arch enemy of the Spiderman character (Peter Paker). As the trilogy progresses, the relationship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn evolves until it comes to the bitter end as we see in the third film.
James Franco reprised his role in all three films in the trilogy and although he is not remembered for the work he did on this film, he put out a noteworthy performance. In the video game Spider-man 3, he voices the characters of Harry and New Goblin.
Why Him? (2016)
This James Franco movie runs on the trope of the father and boyfriend/fiancé battle. James Franco is the boyfriend of the brilliant Stephanie Fleming, played by Zoey Deutch who is a source of pride to her conservative family. But her boyfriend does not fit her father’s expectations of a boyfriend despite him (the boyfriend) being the successful owner of a video game company. The film is a modern version of Guess Who is Coming to Dinner, with the two men trying to show the object of their affection – on one hand, daughter and on the other hand, girlfriend – which of them loves her more.
Why Him? was successful at the box office but only performed averagely with critics who criticized the premise of the actions in the film.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
Julia Roberts is a middle-aged woman whose perfect life crumbles when her marriage fails. The film is based on the memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert, an author and the character Roberts plays. Throughout the film, Gilbert goes on many adventures in different parts of the world where she tries to discover herself. James Franco plays David, a younger man that Gilbert starts to have an affair with when her marriage fails.
The film was a hit at the box office making more than triple of its $60 million budget, but it did not meet the expectations of critics, some of who referred to it as a ‘snooze fest.’
For this 2006 war film, James Franco displays one of the many shades of his awesomeness as he learned to fly a plane for this film and as earlier mentioned, got his license to fly from the training he underwent.
James Franco plays Blaine Rawlings, a young man who joins the first World War to make money which he hopes to use to save his family’s ranch from been foreclosed. He is part of a group of young airforce pilots who lead the forefront of the US AirForce’s attack. This is one of his fewer ranked films and did poorly at the box office.
The Interview (2014)
This James Franco movie is a parody of an attempted assassination of the North Korean president, Kim Jong-un. James Franco is Dave Skylark who runs a talk show on gossip. He catches wind of the fact that the dictator, Kim Jong-un is a fan of his show and tries to interview him. The CIA learns about this and decided to enlist his help in assassinating the dictator and freeing the citizens of the country.
The fame of this film was stoked by the threat of terrorist attacks and the hacking of the computers at Sony, the distribution company that was supposed to distribute the film. These threats of terrorism meant that cinemas were not willing to screen the film which in turn led to Sony releasing a digital version of the film online. Till date, it has been the most successful digital film released by Sony. The Interview was released to mixed reviews.
Queen of the Desert (2015)
In his litany of biographical performances, the role of Henry Cadogan is not one that has received as much praise as his other autobiographies. In this 2015 film, James Franco was cast alongside Robert Pattison, Damian Lewis and Nicole Kidman who played the lead. Kidman is the English adventurer and cartographer, Gertrude Bell who decided to leave the socializing of the United Kingdom and move to Tehran. While there, she travels into remote locations in the East, mapping and charting the terrain. James Franco’s character, however, is the man who broke her heart.
All the actors in this film put their best foot forward but this was not enough to help the film as it was a major fluke at the box office and with critics some of who considered it drab.