You gotta love James Franco.  The man continues to take artistic risks other actors wouldn't dare dream of.  Whether it's an extended role on daytime soap "General Hospital," doing double duty to get a film degree (and now more post-graduate work) or playing two gay roles (let alone one) in the span of two years, Franco is becoming a legend among his peers before he hits 35.  So, when he was announced earlier this month as co-host of the 83rd Academy Awards along with the charming Anne Hathaway, what would normally have caused surprise was met by many in the industry as, "Well, it's Franco."  Still, as a potential best actor winner for "127 Hours" (let's be clear, the nomination is a lock at this point), hosting the show could be a death knell to his chances to take home his first statue.  As you'd expect, Franco doesn't care.  Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about his new gig, Franco revealed his inner circle of advisers (publicist, agent, manager we assume) advised him not to do it.

“When we finally met and discussed it in person, all my representatives were saying, ‘No! Of course not!’” Franco told the magazine. “So, that always sparks something in me. So I said, ‘Yes, of course!’ Because that reaction that they have is based on conventional wisdom of what makes a good career. And that can be boring — really boring.”

Franco does admit, however, that when show co-producer Bruce Cohen, who he had worked with on "Milk," offered him the spotlight his first reaction was to turn it down. But, as we've come to expect from the "Pineapple Express" star, he immediately reconsidered. "I thought about it and I thought, well, why not? Because I’ll look bad? Well, I don’t care.”

And if things don't turn out well on Oscar night?  Franco retorts, "I’m happy to take the criticism. Even if it’s ‘The Worst Oscars Ever,’ I don’t care. It’s one night of the year.”

Something tells us you and Ms. Hathaway will be just fine.

In other awards season news…

- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 248 films met the eligibility requirements for best picture this your.  In order to quality, a film must have a running time of more than 40 minutes and must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film, or in an acceptable digital format. The Academy did not make a list of all 248 pictures readily available.  As always, nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards will be announced at 5:30 AM PST/8:30 AM EST.

- Yawn, "The Social Network" won the Indiewire Annual 2010 Critic's Poll.  124 critics and bloggers participated (including this writer), but only four of my films made their 10.  Can you guess which ones?

1. "The Social Network"    
2. "Carlos"    
3. "Winter's Bone"
4. "Black Swan"
5. "Everyone Else"
6. "Dogtooth"
7. "The Ghost Writer"
8. "Mother"
9. "I Am Love"
10. "Another Year" and "Wild Grass" (tie)

In other categories, Edgar Rameriz of "Carlose" won best lead performance, "Winter's Bone's" John Hawkes took best supporting performance, "The Social Network's" David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin topped the best director and best screenplay lists respectively, "Exit Through the Gift Shop" won best documentary and best first feature, and "Film Socialisme" won best undistributed film.
 

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