James Franco is many things. He’s a director, painter, performance artist, published author, scholar, sculptor and model. We mostly know him as an actor, and a pretty good one at that.

One NYU professor however, begged to differ, issuing the Golden Globe-winning star of recent Best Picture contender Milk a D in his acting class, Showbiz 411 reports. Though he received critical acclaim for his breakthrough performance in Mark Rydell's television biography of James Dean [2001], he was not taken very seriously until Milk. Franco is sexy, fresh and bears an extremely alluring aura yet he backs that up with a cerebral sensitivity and intelligence in his work.

“I did the work, I did well in everything else” the actor said at the premiere of his latest film, Howl the story of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s obscenity trial, for which he is earning positive reviews. Franco said that his acting professor likely felt uncomfortable teaching an already well known actor, and also admitted to missing many classes because he was shooting director Danny Boyle’s follow-up to Slumdog Millionaire: 127 Hours.
While Franco is earning applause for Howl, it’s his work in 127 Hours that has critics calling him an Oscar shoo-in. The film—about hiker Aron Ralston’s torturous time spent trapped by a boulder in a desert cave where he was forced to amputate his own arm. Franco's performance inspired a lengthy standing ovation when it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Box Office Magazine is calling Franco’s performance “a tour-de-force” and EW is saying that the buzz out of Toronto positions Franco as a lock for an Oscar nomination. Other likely contenders to emerge from the increasingly-important film festival: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech and Natalie Portman, who already wowed ‘em in Venice with her turn in Black Swan.
Franco certainly isn’t letting one nasty grade get him down. The very busy Spider-Man star is already enrolled at Yale and is working on his PhD in writing. His debut collection of short stories, Palo Alto, drops October 19. Howl opens in selected cities this weekend, and 127 Hours hits screens in early November.
And if he needs further consoling, all he need do is take a look at his resume. Franco’s 16 films have grossed nearly $1.5 billion [with a B] domestically; he’s won a Golden Globe for his breakthrough performance in James Dean and an Independent Spirit Award for Milk, been nominated for an Emmy, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and four MTV Movie Awards, and was even named Man of the Year by Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals.

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