James Franco’s Best Movies, Ranked

James Franco is a controversial actor with a hefty resume of films under his belt. The actor started his career after 15 months of training at Playhouse West in 1997, first landing commercials and guest roles, breaking into Television with the series. Freaks and Geeks, which Judd Apatow produced. Franco’s first feature-length film was in 1999, and was called Never Been Kissedwhich starred Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, and Michael Vartan.

We see some range from Franco in his different roles, especially in pieces that are meant to be serious. But oftentimes, the characters are similar to one another. They tend to be funny, charismatic, and very dramatic. This lack of variability in his characters isn’t a bad thing, as it shows that the personality he has cultivated for these roles is popular; It fits into a lot of different stories, and works well alongside many different actors’ styles. Here are James Franco’s best movies, ranked.

7 Spring Breakers (2012)

Spring Breakers is a 2012 film directed and written by Harmony Korine; It stars Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, and Ashley Benson. In this film, Franco plays a drug dealer named Alien, who bails out the main characters after they are caught, following a robbery. Franco’s character in this movie is a pretty big deviation from his normal acting persona; Alien has a southern drawl, awkward, yet confident mannerisms, and a flamboyant wardrobe. Harmony Korine’s work may not be for everyone; The pacing of the film is unorthodox, but it is definitely worth the watch if you are a Franco fan.


6 127 Hours

Inspired by the story of Aron Ralston and his book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 127 Hours tells the story of an outdoors enthusiast who becomes stuck in a canyon, pinned beneath a boulder. The film is directed by Danny Boyle, and stars James Franco, who plays Aron Ralston. Franco’s acting in this film is similar to how we see him in many others; However, here, in parts of the film, there is a level of sadness and hopelessness that Franco reaches that really is impressive. The film was nominated for six Oscars, including one for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

5 The Interview (2014)

The Interview is a comedy that was co-directed and written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan. It depicts a US reporter named Dave Skylark, as he lands an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, and is then approached by the CIA to lead an assassination of the dictator. Franco shines bright in his role as Dave Skylark; He does a great job of creating a funny and lighthearted character, and his chemistry on-screen with Seth Rogen is second to none.

4 This Is the End (2013)

Another film that was co-directed and written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan, This is the End is an apocalyptic comedy depicting a group of actors held up in James Franco’s house as the world around them deteriorates. Acting alongside Franco are Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel. It is quite the comedy ensemble, and the choice to have the actors play themselves adds another layer of hilarity.

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3 Pineapple Express (2008)

A comedy classic, Pineapple Express is directed by David Gordon Green, and follows two buddies as they incidentally get involved with serious drug runners after one witnesses a murder. This film stars Seth Rogan as a process server, and James Franco as a low-level drug dealer. The Rogan-Franco recipe is a surefire method for a successful comedy, and if you enjoy comedy-action films, then this one should be high on your watch list.

2 The Disaster Artist (2017)

Directed by and starring James Franco, The Disaster Artist tells the mysterious and funny story of Tommy Wiseau, a one-time Hollywood director who made what some consider the worst film of all time, The Room. Franco does a great job of capturing the essence of Wiseau in this film; The movie also features several shot-for-shot remakes of the original film, which are incredible to see side-by-side. The film was ultimately nominated for one Oscar, and is well-worth the watch, even if you have never seen the film upon which this one is based.

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1 Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Franco’s arguably best performance comes from the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The movie is directed by Rupert Wyatt, and in it, Franco plays a scientist who is experimenting with a drug to help the brain repair itself, and tests it on a chimpanzee who gains an impressive degree of intelligence. The action-packed film is a great revitalization of the old franchise, and Franco plays his part fabulously. The film was nominated for an Oscar relating to its visual effects work, and its success went on to inspire two sequels.

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