For his role in director Danny Boyle’s highly-anticipated film 127 Hours, actor James Franco will be presented with this year’s Outstanding Performance of the Year Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, executive director Roger Durling announced today.

In 127 Hours, set to be released some time this fall, Franco plays young adventurer Aaron Ralson who famously sawed off his own arm after it became trapped under a boulder as he hiked in a remote Moab Desert canyon.

“[Franco is] a truly exceptional actor who embraces the character and lives the story to tell it,” said Durling. “James Franco eases onto the screen, seducing the audience no matter if he is the hero, the villain, or the victim.”

Franco first made a name for himself in 1999’s Freeks and Geeks, a short-lived but much-loved small screen hit, and followed it up with the made-for-TV bio-pic James Dean, convincingly playing the late, great actor.

Since then, Franco has starred as Peter Parker’s best buddy, Harry Osbourne, in the three Spider Man films and worked alongside Robert De Niro in City by the Sea as well as Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah. He also received widespread acclaim for his work as Scott Smith in Milk and displayed his versatility in the same year playing a bumbling but lovable stoner in Pineapple Express.

Next year he can be seen starring with Natalie Portman in Your Highness and will be featured in the Planet of the Apes prequel, Caesar: Rise of the Apes.

Franco will receive his award for Outstanding Performance of the Year on Saturday, January 29. Tickets for the event are available at a 20 percent discount until November 30 and can be purchased at or by calling (805) 963-0023.

Past recipients of the award include Colin Firth (2010), Penelope Cruz (2009), Angelina Jolie (2008), Helen Mirren (2007), Heath Ledger (2006), Kate Winslet (2005) and Charlize Theron (2004).

In its 26th year, the 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival is set to run January 27 – February 6.


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