And now that the Los Angeles Film Critics Association has awarded Franco with a best-supporting-actor win Sunday for his memorable turn as the rapper Alien in “Spring Breakers,” expect A24 Films to ratchet up its fledgling campaign, too.
When A24 launched its “for your consideration” effort back in September, most saw it as nothing more than a clever marketing moment for a film that came out in March and had been released on DVD/Blu-ray a few weeks prior. Even the ad’s tagline was tellingly tongue-in-cheek: “Consider this shit,” read the ad (below, left), a callback to the fictional rapper’s most quotable scene.
At the time, a few Oscar prognosticators took a “why not?” approach to the notion of awards nominations for Harmony Korine‘s polarizing cult hit – it was certainly a memorable performance. And there were even earlier outliers; writing for Hollywood.com, Matt Patches was among the first to declare Franco’s performance award-worthy, even commissioning a mocked-up “for your consideration” ad to accompany his piece that ran after the film’s March release, stating: “James Franco“>James Franco‘s work in Spring Breakers is one of the best performances of the year. In fact, we’re ready to call it award-worthy. Believe it, b**ches.”
But few saw Franco as a truly serious best-supporting-actor contender, especially since the campaign was coming from the scrappy distributor, whose consistently irreverent Twitter feed is reason enough to think it was all meant as a joke.
Individuals familiar with A24’s thinking told TheWrap at the time that yes, they were having some fun with it – but the intent to stir up awards buzz was in earnest. And when they began to get traction with the idea in the blogosphere, they got a little bolder.
Exactly one month after running the first “for your consideration” ad, A24 made clear on Twitter that its Alien campaign was no goof:
The first concrete indication that someone else was taking it seriously came Saturday night, when the Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association nominated Franco for best supporting actor (winners will be announced Monday). A24 was already celebrating.
Then on Sunday, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave the win to Franco (in a tie with Jaret Leto, whose turn as a drag queen in the AIDS drama “Dallas Buyers Club” has been a contender from the very beginning). To be fair, LAFCA is notoriously contrarian – they love to dish out-of-left-field winners – and according to tweets from inside the room, Leto had built a big lead that led to a backlash, and a subsequent surge for Franco.
But the significance of the win wasn’t lost on anyone; least of all the members of LAFCA. When the final vote stuck, critics described a “war whoop” that went up in the room.
A24 execs never expected much more than a stray nomination for Franco here and there, with perhaps a runner-up or two to show for them – but between the Washington critics nomination and Los Angeles critics win, the campaign has, without a doubt, been legitimized. What started out as a half-joke suddenly “feels more real,” one insider said.
So far A24 has limited its FYC materials to online, most recently with a video ad (at the top of this post) that first appeared Monday on the Huffington Post. That’s A24’s style – even in its theatrical campaigns, the year-old, New York-based distributor favors clever DIY publicity and digital marketing over expensive print ads and site takeovers in the trades — the traditional arena for awards campaigns.
But if momentum continues to build for Franco, don’t be surprised to see a gold grill, cornrows and wraparound shades on the glossy pages this awards season. Weirder still, imagine the delicious discomfort of having James Franco“>James Franco back at the Oscars, where he hasn’t exactly been welcome since his spaced-out performance as Anne Hathaway‘s co-host in 2011 — for playing Alien.