Franco's multi-tasking started to seem like a Joaquin Phoenix-style put-on a couple years ago; not only was he writing, directing, and starring in various films, but he was also, it seemed, studying for graduate degrees at several universities at once. But then, it became apparent that he really was spreading himself too thin when he practically fell asleep onstage while co-hosting the 2011 Oscars. He took a lot of flak for that, but he hardly seems to have lessened his pace.
Indeed, the Oscar jokes ceased once Franco returned to the good graces of moviegoers with the 2013 smash "Oz the Great and Powerful."
According to IMDb, Franco worked on some 49 film and TV projects in 2013, and while many of those were just guest spots on talk shows, that still means that, on average, you couldn't go more than a week without Franco making a new bid for your attention. Plus, he's already got a dozen projects slated for release next year.
Since it's all but impossible for anyone who is not James Franco to keep up with everything Franco has in the pipeline, here's a guide to the highlights of his work on both sides of the camera in 2013.
1. "Oz, the Great and Powerful": Franco re-united with "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi to play the wizard in this "Wizard of Oz" prequel that was one of 2013's biggest hits.
2. "Spring Breakers": In theaters at the same time as his Disney blockbuster was Harmony Korine's indie tale of debauchery that featured a standout performance by Franco as a cornrowed creep named Alien who sets out to corrupt some vacationing co-eds, including Disney princesses Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. Franco's transformation into the nearly unrecognizable sleazebag was seen as further proof of his chameleon-like versatility.
3. "The Iceman": Released in May, this drama starred Michael Shannon as notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski. Franco appears as one of his victims.
4. "This Is the End": The apocalyptic summer comedy hit featured several stars playing exaggerated versions of themselves as they face a Biblical armageddon in Los Angeles. Much of the action takes place during a party at (what is supposed to be) Franco's house.
5. "Lovelace": This summer's much-hyped, little-seen biopic of Linda Lovelace starred Amanda Seyfried as the "Deep Throat" star-turned-anti-porn activist. Franco has a small role as "Playboy" publisher Hugh Hefner, in what would turn out to be the most mainstream of the many porn-inspired movies Franco would be involved with in 2013.
6. "Palo Alto": Franco co-starred in this crowdfunded anthology adapted from his own short-story collection.
7. "As I Lay Dying": Franco directed and co-starred in this feature-length, commercially released adaptation of the classic William Faulkner novel.
8. "Lily": Franco co-produced writer/director Zach Singer's short film, based on a one-act play by Tennessee Williams.
9. "Kink": Franco is credited as an executive producer on this documentary about fetish website kink.com, which played at Sundance at the beginning of the year.
10. "A Fuller Life": Samantha Fuller's documentary, which played at the Venice Film Festival, takes an unconventional approach to recounting the life of her father, pulp director Sam Fuller ("The Big Red One"): it features various well-known actors and directors reading excerpts from his memoirs. Franco reads a segment titled "Copy Boy."
11. "The Director: An Evolution in Three Acts": Franco is listed as a producer of this documentary about Gucci designer Frida Giannini. It screened at New York's Tribeca Film Festival in April.
12. "Venice 70: Future Reloaded": Also at the Venice Film Festival was this anthology, with segments directed by 70 international filmmakers, about the future of cinema. In the credits, at least, Franco gets to rub shoulders with the likes of Bernardo Bertolucci, Catherine Breillat, and Abbas Kiarostami.
13. "Child of God": Yet another Venice entry, one that also played the big fall festivals in Toronto and New York, this is an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel about a man's violent downward spiral. Franco directed, co-wrote, and plays a supporting role in the feature, which should see a commercial release next year.
14. "Third Person": This romantic drama by Paul Haggis ("Crash"), featuring three interwoven love stories, played at the Toronto Film Festival. In a cast that includes Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, and Mila Kunis, Franco co-stars as an artist who comes from a wealthy family.
15. "Interior. Leather Bar.": As notoriously sensationalistic as the 1980 Al Pacino thriller "Cruising" was, there was as much as 40 minutes of even more lurid gay-bar footage that was cut to secure an R rating. (Director William Friedkin claims he shot the extreme scenes knowing they'd be cut, in order to get the scenes he wanted to keep past the censors.) This short film, co-directed by Franco and Travis Mathews, imagines what the content of that lost "Cruising" footage might be.
16. "Richard Peter Johnson": A comedy about a porn star (note the triple pun in the name) who tries to go legit. Franco reportedly has a cameo as himself in this yet-to-be-released feature.
17. "Acting Class": This unreleased short is a mockumentary about an acting class with an egotistical martinet of a teacher. Franco executive produced the film, which reportedly features some of his own acting students.
18. "XR91 BioRebellion 2.0": Writer/director Steven Huffaker's unreleased short is about a film student trying to complete a sci-fi epic. Franco has a cameo as himself, in his role as a film professor.
19. "Comedy Central Roast of James Franco": It's Franco's turn in the hot seat as he's roasted by various comics and pals.
10. "The Mindy Project": Franco guest-starred on two episodes of the Fox sitcom as a handsome, troublesome new doctor in Mindy's practice.
21. "Homefront": Franco co-starred with Jason Statham in last month's action thriller. Playing a small-town meth dealer named Gator in a movie written by Sylvester Stallone is about as normal as it got for Franco this year.
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