opinion

James Franco's snub from the Oscar nominations is the sign of a huge change in Hollywood.

James Franco’s performance in The Disaster Artist is flooring.

His portrayal of Tommy Wiseau – the director of the 2003 cult film The Room, widely considered to be “the worst movie ever made” – is superb.

He is accurate, empathetic and helps you understand a person who’s near impossible to understand in real life – Wiseau has never revealed his real age or birthplace. He denies he has an accent. He funded and directed The Room himself after no one in Hollywood would give him a break. And he’s never revealed where the money came from.

But Franco’s performance has not been enough. And now we ask: for the first time in Hollywood history, are people refusing to separate the art from the artist? Quite possibly.

The 39-year-old actor from Palo Alto, California, has been left out of the 2018 Academy Award nominations.

James Franco
Actor James Franco attends the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Image via Getty.

It comes after a string of sexual misconduct allegations publicly levelled against him since The Disaster Artist's success. Allegations that arrived in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which has seen hundreds of actresses, models, and media personalities publicly accuse Hollywood heavyweights of sexual misconduct.

In any other year, almost certainly, Franco's art would have been nominated.

Firstly because his performance is, whether you like it or not, stunning. And also because he has received recognition at every other awards ceremony leading up to this year's Oscars - a path typically trodden by trophy winners.

He received the award for Best Actor for his role in The Disaster Artist at the Golden Globe Awards on January 7.

A few days later, at the Critics' Choice Awards, he took home Best Actor in a Comedy Film.

And, on January 21 at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Franco was nominated in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.

All these wins and nominations pointed to one thing: Franco being a contender for the one of the most coveted awards in Hollywood: an Oscar. And, any other year, they would have gotten him there.

But this year, Franco the artist is not welcome in Hollywood.

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LISTEN: Mia Freedman and Holly Wainwright explain the Time's Up movement, on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues after. 

On January 7, the night of 2018 Golden Globes, Franco stood on stage and accepted his award wearing a Time's Up pin - a gesture of protest against the mistreatment and exploitation of women in Hollywood.

The hypocrisy of his wearing that small badge led to five women publicly accusing Franco of sexual misconduct. It began on Twitter and, on January 11, the Los Angeles Times published an expose detailing the experiences of Franco's alleged victims. Just days ago, Scarlett Johansson called him out at the Women's March.

Franco was accused of harassing women on set; tricking women into auditioning for sex worker roles that didn't exist; removing the protective guards covering women's vaginas to perform oral sex while shooting; and coercing a woman into giving him oral sex in a car.

He denied all allegations and apologised, but now - as his name is glaringly absent from the nominations list - we see with certainty the damage done to his reputation.

As they stand, these remain accusations. The claims have not been investigated by police and charges have not been laid. That someone's career can be crushed before legal proceedings even begin is, of course, a matter that divides the public opinion. Perhaps Franco is a scapegoat? If so, that is extremely problematic.

Nonetheless, Hollywood's response to the allegations-that-refuse-to-go-away shows how #MeToo is leading to some change. It is creating an industry where - no matter how strong your talent or how powerful your position - you cannot get away with harming women. You are not entitled to exploit women. And women do not need to succumb, in order to be heard.

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