James Franco’s Best Actor Oscar Chances? History Weighs In
First Published: January 25, 2011 8:06 PM EST Credit: Getty Premium
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- James Franco was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar on Tuesday morning, but he’s also doubling up as co-host (with Anne Hathaway) of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, something that’s only ever happened three times in the show’s history. Based on the past, does he stand a good chance of winning? Access Hollywood took a look back to see how history might help or hurt his chances…
In 1959, British actor David Niven co-hosted the ceremony along with Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Rosalind Russell and, well, Donald Duck. Niven also had a Best Actor nomination for his role in 1958’s “Separate Tables.”
The dramatic role pitted him opposite Deborah Kerr and bombshell Rita Hayworth in a story about several people who were staying at a hotel in Bournemouth.
Niven scooped the award for playing Major Angus Pollock, beating out tough competition, including Paul Newman’s performance in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” both Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis in “The Defiant Ones,” and Spencer Tracy in “The Old Man and the Sea.”
Brit Michael Caine co-hosted the Oscar ceremony in 1973 alongside Rock Hudson, Carol Burnett and Charlton Heston. Caine was also nominated for Best Actor, for playing Milo Tindle in “Sleuth,” a thriller that pitted him opposite the great Sir Laurence Olivier.
The London-bred Caine lost the statue to Marlon Brando, who scooped the prize for playing Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.” Also losing out to Brando? Caine’s co-star, Olivier, as well as Peter O’Toole for “The Ruling Class” and Paul Winfield for “Sounder.”
Walter Matthau co-hosted the Oscars in 1976 with Goldie Hawn, Gene Kelly, George Segal and Robert Shaw, and he was also nominated for the Best Actor prize for his role in “The Sunshine Boys.”
“The Sunshine Boys” saw Matthau playing a former vaudeville comedian reuniting with his estranged partner for a television show.
Jack Lemmon directed Matthau in the picture, but unfortunately for the actor, he lost out to Jack Nicholson for his performance in 1975’s “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” Also up that year for the statue were Al Pacino in “Dog Day Afternoon,” Maximilian Schell in “The Man in the Glass Booth,” and James Whitmore in “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!”
While not quite the same set-up, Australian star Paul Hogan had the honor of bringing his big personality to the Oscar hosting job in 1987, alongside Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. Hogan had an Oscar nomination that year, not for Best Actor, but for Best Original Screenplay for his monster hit “Crocodile Dundee.” He lost out to Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.” Other screenplays that lost out to Allen included Hanif Kureishi’s “My Beautiful Laundrette,” and Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” and “Salvador,” which he co-wrote with Richard Boyle.
So, what are Franco’s chances then? One in three, if you’re counting the exact same criteria — co-hosting and being up for Best Actor. Or, one in four if you count co-hosting and just being up for a major award.
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