‘The Disaster Artist’ reviews: James Franco delivers ‘a sincere tribute’ to eccentric filmmaker Tommy Wiseau

The Disaster Artist” opened on Friday, December 8, and suffice it to say that it has received better reviews than the movie that inspired it. It’s based on the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Film Ever Made,” which told the true story of the making of “The Room,” the 2003 film so bad it has become an enduring cult hit. The new movie about the making of that movie is directed by James Franco, who also stars as Tommy Wiseau, the eccentric filmmaker behind that classic of schlock cinema.

As of this writing “The Disaster Artist” has a MetaCritic score of 76 as well as 94% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes, with the RT critics’ consensus saying, “‘The Disaster Artist’ is a surprisingly poignant and charming movie-about-a-movie that explores the creative process with unexpected delicacy.” But the movie is also funny according to reviewers, who call it “hilarious and big-hearted” as well as “shrewd, affectionate and squirmingly funny.” And Franco’s performance “gets at the pathos” of Wiseau and “climbs into the head of this character,” ultimately delivering “a sincere tribute from one iconoclast to another.”

Franco currently looks like a strong Oscar contender for a Best Actor nomination, with 14 of the Expert film journalists we’ve polled betting on him to make the cut. He’s also the frontrunner to win the Golden Globe for Best Film Comedy/Musical Actor with 10 Experts giving him the edge to prevail in that race. Franco has also earned nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards and Independent Spirit Awards, and he recently won the Gotham Award for Best Actor. Do you agree that “The Disaster Artist” will continue on its strong awards track? Check out some of the reviews below, and discuss this and more with your fellow movie fans in our forums.

Dana Stevens (Slate): “Though no cinephile’s life would be complete without a viewing of ‘The Room’– an experience one early reviewer compared to ‘getting stabbed in the head’ — there’s no need to have seen it in order to enjoy ‘The Disaster Artist,’ James Franco’s hilarious and big-hearted adaptation of [Greg Sestero’s] memoir”

Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly): “The story belongs to the two Francos: Dave as straight man Greg, whose slow retreat from his increasingly volatile friend drives him further into self-destruction (and whose copper-penny shag is the movie’s only truly unforgivable wig), and James as would-be auteur Tommy. Though the latter can’t help leaning into his muse’s mush-mouthed absurdities, he gets at the pathos, too.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle): “Rarely, if ever, has a living person been portrayed with such hysterically funny disrespect … But Franco does more than an imitation. He climbs into the head of this character and gives us his thought processes, which are ultimately an even greater source of jaw-dropping comic amazement.”

Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “While mediocrities are a dime a dozen, a genuine, off-the-charts fiasco is something to cherish … James Franco’s shrewd, affectionate and squirmingly funny new movie understands this completely. Approaching ‘The Room’ in a spirit of mocking celebration, it is both a re-creation of its making and a deconstruction of its mystique, as well as a sincere tribute from one iconoclast to another.”

Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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